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“Mzungu” is a Bantu term used to refer people from Europe or practically “someone with white skin”. Literally translated means “someone who roams around” or “wanderer”. It was first used in the African Great Lakes region to describe European explorers in the 18th century. Last week while David Wella was wandering round the land of Mwandet with the Tabasamu’s volunteers, Maasai children could have felt like that native people in the current Uganda when those saw the European explorers for the first time.
Mwandet is one of the native Maasai villages that fortunately have still remained isolated from any influx of tourists, this one is located in the surroundings of Mount Meru near the road towards Arusha. David Wella, Tabasamu’s founder, works as a teacher at Mwandet Secondary School. Last week he brought the Tabasamu’s volunteers, Shelly and Hen from Israel and Adrià from Spain, to Mwandet. The intention of this visit was seeing before their very eyes a bit of Maasai lifestyle and being a testimony to how Maasai life runs without artificial performance. The village is spread in several sets of cabins throughout a dirt track which crosses the hills where Maasai put herds out to pasture.
Maasai speak their native tongue, Maa, although they are able to speak and understand Swahili. During the visit, David talked to them in Swahili and served as interpreter between Maasai and the volunteers. The day was sunny and clear-skied, so they were very lucky. From the hills, it was possible gazing at Mount Meru with all its silhouette. Sunshine glimpsed radiantly the view of the land.
Adult and teenage people were really friendly with the three “Mzungus”, even an elderly woman showed them her ornaments, a necklace and bracelets, as a gesture of pride. But children were afraid of them and even some were pretty scared. The reason was that they had never seen people with white skin. Even though Maasai are nomadic people since time immemorial, this tribe doesn’t like to mingle with other communities and have always lived in nature. Shelly, Hen and Adrià were very surprised at this reaction, but also fascinated with this place unspoiled by tourism. There Maasai were collecting water in a source, putting animals out to pasture or spending leisure time with friends. In the end, they were really glad to have an experience like that.
This excursion meant a chance of seeing and talking to Maasai people in their own environment. It is one of these things that only is possible to be done if you mingle with Tanzanian community by volunteering. Tabasamu receives volunteers throughout the year where they are warmly welcome. For more information, you can visit our website www.tabasamuorphanage.org. Africa is a continent composed of countless different cultures of millenary tradition and Tanzania is one of its most meaningful lands where you can explore places such as the Maasai Market in Arusha, Mount Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar Island.