SAFE MAA Samburu Dairy: Day 1

By Ali Alport, Conservation and Community Manager

See the introductory story on the SAFE MAA project, and how song and theatre is bringing positive change to the Samburu.


A project is not a project without a little bit of drama to get it going!

Why is it that you pray for rain for weeks, and then the one day when you really think it would be better if it didn’t, it rains in bucketfuls! So after a very long journey from The Loita Hills, with only a few km’s left to go – the Safe Kenya bus sadly hit a very soft part of the road and there it had to remain overnight.

The team kept their spirits high as they were ferried in two loads back to the lodge for a very late dinner and bed.

This morning, the team made their way to The WESTGATE headquarters for the first day, while Daniel the bus driver, Ron and I went to the bus’ rescue.

Fortunately, the Sasaab resupply truck was coming in, so we intercepted it and he helped us pull the bus clear, but as it pulled the bus out – Ii got stuck too. So the Safe Bus had to change roles and pull the truck free. It was like something out of a Charlie Chaplin movie!!


Safe Maa spent today with the Westgate Umbrella Youth Group, to lay the foundations for the week.

After introductions, and briefly discussing everyday life and the differences between the Maasai and Samburu on a very broad level, the groups split up into male and female groups to discuss things further. Sadly, as I do no speak Maa, I do not know everything that was discussed, but his level of animation was indication enough that they were all fascinated by each other.


In the girls’ groups, all four girls really opened up to the Maa team, asking question after question. There was lots of giggling and big gasps of disbelief when they talked about how the traditions differ between them. When the girls were talking to Sarah and Christine and the guys to David, the rest of the team were taken on a discovery tour of the headquarters to learn about the Westgate grazing and holistic land management they are doing.

After lunch, the two groups re-converged and Amos opened up a discussion and asked the Samburu youth team to stand up and talk about what they had learned in the morning.


Following that, Amos asked the Samburu youth to think of ways in which they could pass messages to their community using song. Everyone suddenly became very shy but after a little persuasion, they moved outside and there was a fantastic hour of song and dance.

Certainly, from my perspective, the day seemed to be a huge success. The youth team is very excited to have been given this opportunity and I would expect to see their confidence skyrocket through the week.