|After our little break at the Marsabit Lodge, we headed back to Laisamis for a final night at the camp. Thankfully, there were no hyenas chasing warthogs, but our security guard had built a protective barricade around our tent - just in case.
On our final day in Laisamis, we walked around the town, mixing with the locals and taking some photos. The local ladies were keen to sell us some beaded jewellery, and in the interest of fairness we bought one item from each.
THE (UN)KINDEST CUT
We discovered during our time in Laisamis that the local boys had recently undergone a mass circumcision. These boys were from the Samburu tribe which believe that circumcision heralds a boy's transition from a boy into a 'moran' - a warrior. These ritual circumcisions can only occur at specific times when the astrological alignment meets their tribal beliefs.
Unfortunately for the boys of Laisamis, the last time the planets had aligned was 15 years ago, so there had not been a ritual circumcision since this time. Therefore the boys being circumcised were between 15 and 29 years of age. Ouch.
And to make things worse, the transition to warrior-hood requires the boys to not show any pain - either during the procedure or after. So minor items such as infection or excess bleeding are ignored and lead to long term problems in an area without electricity let along sanitation or medical facilities.
Apparently the planets realign in May this year, so it will ensure the rest of the teenage male population of Laisamis has had the chop.
KIDS LOOKING AFTER KIDS
Juliet told us a great story about a researcher she met that had discovered a link between family size and predatory behaviour on their livestock. Apparently the larger the family (ie. the more children) the more likely it was that their livestock would be taken as prey by wild animals.
This seemed to contradict common behaviours since families had more children so that they could work on the land. The researcher was at a loss to explain why. Then she interviewed some local elders - and they just smiled and said yes, this was true. The more children a family had, the more likely they would lose livestock to wild prey.
And the reason why - the elders knew this too. Quite simply - children play. And if there are more of them to look after the livestock, they will play with each other and forget about the animals. Simple really.
TRAINING - KENYAN STYLE
A highlight of our trip back from Laisamis was a stop at a women's training workshop. The program was for tribal women in the manufacture and sale of handicrafts so that the women could learn to become self-sufficient and earn an income for themselves (and their families).
Items such as these would eventually be sold at Fair Trade stores which aim to provide a fair price to the people manufacturing the product. This is a fantastic idea and we have supported similar types of stores in India and Egypt. Unfortunately these stores are often undercut by mass produced items from China, imported and sold at local bazaars by men with multiple stores, rather than hand-made items with profits sustaining the communities within which they were made.
The workshop we visited was for approximately 40 local women (who arrived in the back of a truck singing local songs) to teach them the finer arts of making items that were marketable to Western tourists and how to price for the appropriate markets.
The women were fantastic and allowed us to take photos of them in their bends and tribal (everyday) dress. They came with their babies and friends, and it was as much a social occasion as a way to make an income. They made us feel welcome and I wish we could have bought something from them all.