Come On Baby, Light My Fire

I planned this post to coincide (more or less) with the season premier of Survivor, and I was going to diss the contestants for their lack of fire building skills. But much to my amazement, two teams got fires going almost immediately without tools. However, they cannot hold a torch to the Maasai when it comes to lighting fires.

During our visit to a Maasai village near Amboseli National Park, Kenya, three of the men demonstrated their techniques. Wow! They made it look so easy. Of course, having the right materials – hard wood, soft wood, tender, and dried dung from an animal that excretes undigested grass – and years of practice helps.

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Every morning, these men light a village fire. From it, other villagers kindle fires for their homes. Fire is their only source of heat and light.  So I was very surprised to see a solar cell atop one of the homes. What was it doing there? Well, it powers a small electric fence around the goat pen. The village itself and the pen were both surrounded by the traditional bomas (brush fences), but the electric fence provides some extra protection from wild animals (e.g., lions). The Maasai people’s livelihood depends on their animals. (BTW, someone has power and/or telephones – note the pole. Probably goes only to the tourist accommodations.)

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The village chief was perfectly comfortable with modern technology – and he was perfectly happy to take photos of our group using our cameras.

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