Jumping With The Maasai

by Robert Maisel (United States of America)

A leap into the unknown Kenya


My safari experience was unforgettable. The plethora and diversity of animals spotted, the breathtaking sunrises and sunsets, the smell of raw nature in the air, and the list goes on. On the third and final day however, my experience changed drastically. I was introduced to The Maasai People..and I would never be the same again. As tourists flood into and out of Maasai Mara, day after day, month after month, year after year, these folks remain. "If you can jump very high, you only have to give up five cows. If you can't jump that high, you will owe ten" I recall being told. This statement was in reference to what a man would have to give up when he marries. I was taken aback by these words. They were dressed in traditional tribal garb. Variations of the color red, and with different patterns. Some solid, some checkered, and others striped. I watched as, one by one, each participant launched his body into the air, touching back down to the earth only to repeat the action. Again. And again. And yet again, as if propelled by a hidden springboard. Without the slightest hesitation, I was beckoned to join -- what a rare opportunity to be afforded! I couldn’t turn down the chance to participate in this age-old and legendary tradition. Ecstatic, I accepted the invitation! Adumu is part of Eunoto, a ceremony during which young men become warriors and transition into adulthood, allowing them to marry. The height of their jumps increases their attractiveness to potential future partners. I didn’t come anywhere close to jumping as high as even the lowest jumper. I elevated myself as far off the ground as my body would allow, trying my hardest to retain the level of stamina they seemed to all have, yet found it difficult to do. But alas, it didn’t matter. I participated in this crucial rite of passage. I became, even if for only a fleeting moment in time, a Maasai Warrior. The ritualistic chanting created a sphere, allowing me to leave all prior known dimensions behind and enter another world. The world of the Maasai. A world previously undiscovered by me. The sheer power of being granted access to such a sacred realm felt unreal. It was. But somehow, I lived it. A new perspective on life seeped into my mind, stretching its limits. I had gained a newfound appreciation and respect for what I had previously viewed as simply 'jumping'. From that point forward, I would be rendered unable to ever view lifting both feet off the ground simultaneously in the same light again.