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I have expressed how I feel about this piece elsewhere but I have to add my 2 cts to this discussion as a Kenyan Maasai Woman. What I find disturbing about it;
Of course the obvious ‘white savior’ aspect – she came, she did and now we all should be able to follow suit. Like we needed her to come show us the way. Who told her we want to be ‘warriors’? Who told her we need to be ‘warriors’ to make a ‘difference’?
The culture insensitivitya of it all – that she can just trot into the wilderness and claim to be a ‘warrior’ after a month WTF it takes about 15 years to be a Moran and even then some don’t make it – so what is she saying – the Maasai morans are slackers?
Insulting to the many Maasai women and Maasai Culture in general. Especially all the brilliant women working towards equality for themselves and girls. As far as I know Maasai women don’t become warriors and don’t want to be warriors But if they want to and choose to…they don’t need an ‘outsider’ to come fight their fight for them. We can fight our own battles ourselves thank you! and ps: we are and continue to in ways that are respectful to our culture and our traditions. How would Native Americans feel if someone showed up did a few sun dances, slept in a tee pee and then claims to be a navajo warrior or something! idiocy!
That she is making money off of this! That hurts! No difference between her and the colonialist or the slave traders….in my view she just came to take period! I would like to know if any of her book proceeds go back to the any of the people she used.
Lastly we have to look on our side as well. Why is it so easy for us to sell ourselves like this? I mean i understand the money aspect but how do we prevent/educate our own folks from disgracefully selling themselves like this? If this woman was not a ‘mzungu’ she would never have had this experience let alone write about it. Are we still enslaved in our minds or what?
These are just my views and i don’t speak for my entire community, am sure there are some that will differ.
Rarin Ole Sein, a Kenyan Maasai woman, responding to the over-hyped (BBC, Guardian, Glamour) white savior “‘Eat, Pray, Love’ comes to Africa” memoir by US entrepreneur Mindy Budgor, about her travels to Kenya that led to her becoming the ‘first female Maasai warrior' (oh the nerve!).
Whilst we’re on the subject of white saviorism and ‘nerve’, we might as well lay out just how and why Mindy was in Kenya in the first place. According to her interview with Glamour, she’d told her parents that she’d been ‘been sponsored by an athletic apparel company to train to be a warrior as part of a marketing plan,’ which turned out to be a lie (the sponsorship part, that is).
After starting her own company in college and gaining enough success through it to become financially independent and eventually sell it, Mindy felt as though the luxuries that were becoming common place in her life just weren’t fulfilling enough for her anymore (is this sounding familiar to anyone?). With that, she eventually made the decision to change the world, saying to herself that in a year’s time, she wanted to be “in a developing country, doing something that actively made the world a better place.” So why Kenya? Well, apart from the fact that it seems to be a hotspot for people on savior missions, it was through a friend that Mindy was tipped off on both travelling there and wanting to discover the ways of Maasai warriors.
Once in Kenya, and after hearing about how women in Maasai culture were prevented from training as warriors, the California-native was determined to pass by years of tradition and history in a few weeks and use every ounce of privilege she had to become the first woman Masaai warrior ever. She even admitted to not giving a second thought to both her sense of privilege and entitlement (referring to it as a ‘chance’ and matter of ‘opportunity’) saying:
'I know how crazy this all sounds—a Jewish girl from California getting this chance. Why me? Why not Faith? I didn't even think to ask those questions at the time. I just knew if I was given this opportunity, I wasn't going to squander it.'
With the both of them going public with their colonial fantasies, sentiments and experiences, all in the same week, something tells me Mindy and Prince William would get along like a house on fire.
And just in case you’re a little curious about the alluring factors behind Budgor’s literary excellence, Glamour’s given us a spectacular excerpt from her book that should cancel our any doubt you had concerning her prose:
That afternoon we headed into the bush. We brought nothing but the bare essentials (for me, that included a bottle of Chanel Dragon red nail polish—it just made me feel fierce—and a set of pearl earrings as a reminder of home) and our warrior gear: two tartan sheets that we would wrap around us as clothing, and the metal tips for our spears.
Our first task was to collect leaves and branches to sleep on. That was backbreaking, but the hardest task came next: killing a goat. The Maasai suffocate their goats, which they believe is the most humane way to kill. I was petrified, but not about to wimp out on day one, so I held its mouth closed until it went limp. Another warrior slit its throat, then everyone stepped forward to drink fresh blood from its neck. I closed my eyes and did it. Minutes later I vomited.
But my favourite part of the part of her book that was featured on Glamour’s website is:
After 31 cuts in the tree, our final test was to return to Lanet’s village to dance at two weddings. Would the villagers accept us as one of their own, or would we be rejected? We danced and sang all night, then one of the Maasai men lunged at me with his spear, shouting that white girls had no place at this party.