During the interim term of January 2014, I took a class on Religion, Society and Culture in Eastern Africa, which took me to Kenya. We spent time at a national park, with the Swahili on the coast, and with the Maasai in the mainland.
The Swahili are a group of people who share a cultural identity and live along the coasts of Kenya, Tanzania, and northern Mozambique. They are of african, Indonesian, Persian, Arab, and Indian descent, and they are the people who have been the middlemen between the African interior and the traders in the Indian Ocean. They are a proud people with a strong cultural identity.
The capstone for my trip to Kenya was traveling to Milepo near Kajiado. There, we studied the Maasai with the help of several Maasai elders. We completed our stay with a three day homestay with local families.
Stonetown, Lamu is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that retains the classic Swahili architecture and lifestyle that has existed there for the past 500 years. The town is thriving, and there was a lot to do, from bartering in the market to speaking with religious leaders. My class finished up our Swahili course here and also discussed several articles on the Swahili and other culture groups that live on the coast.
Trying on the buibui, what women wear when going out, which is really comfortable
A typical street in Shela
After going to Amboseli, we flew from Nairobi to Lamu, a small island on the coast of Kenya where the Swahili culture is rich. There, we studied kiSwahili (the Swahili language) and spoke with the locals about many topics. I will write more later, but for now, here are a few photos.
On our first day in Kenya, my entire class was jetlagged. Anticipating this, Professor Blunt scheduled a safari for the first couple days. We drove south from Nairobi towards Amboselli National Park, where we spent the day watching the animals, learning about the ecosystem, and learning about the history of humans in the area. During my trip, I wrote a journal on paper, which I will hopefully transfer up to this site slowly. For now, here are a few pictures from my time in Amboseli.