it is important that you wear underpants
April 7, 2008 7:40 PM   Subscribe

Six Masai warriors will face cultural challenges when they run in the Flora London Marathon to raise money for clean water for their village. Meet the runners (video clip) Think about making a small donation in their time of trouble because when we had problems here in the US, they were most generous to us. posted by madamjujujive (25 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
The part about drinking 3 liters of cow blood really squicked me out.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:53 PM on April 7, 2008

I sense an awful Hollywood comedy in the offing:

"N'buktu is the strongest warrior in his village. He roams the trackless wastes. As a youth, he killed a lion with his bare hands. He once defeated the Demon Lord Skulglak in ritual combat. Now he will face his greatest challenge....


using a public restroom!"

Guh-huck! somebody please kill me
posted by JHarris at 8:02 PM on April 7, 2008 [3 favorites]

I've just wasted the last several minutes attempting to get paypal to take my money. An exquisitely badly-designed site, made worse by its great slowness.

But it finally worked and I sent them 20 quid. Why not? And I have a soft spot in my heart for the Masai since I saw Mondo Magic (highly recommended for collectors of the weird, ignore what IMBD says).
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:06 PM on April 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

Shocking Anglocentrist attitude in that guide - we don't make the Scots wear kecks under the kilt and nor should we impose on these Masai lads.
posted by Abiezer at 8:07 PM on April 7, 2008

urgh, IMDB.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:07 PM on April 7, 2008

"When people drink they [seem] sillier or different. I am sure you have seen it with the Greenforce volunteers."

posted by Falconetti at 8:16 PM on April 7, 2008

Kudos to the people who produced this article, to pair such a stellar and resonant photo of teenage Masai warriors with an introductory paragraph citing their ability to kill lions with their bare hands, and contrasting this with their projected ability to deal with the complexities of life in England.

I'm serious. This is the real thing. It's real that these youths have undergone tests far scarier and more rigorous than the yobs that they may meet. Who knows how they will respond? Will they respond as to a lion?

Again, given the tenor of discussion here, and elsewhere on the internet, I must emphasize that I am speaking plainly. Bravo, and thanks, Madam JJJ.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 8:25 PM on April 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

wow. i wish i had the time and money to do some of those greenforce projects. volunteer reef surveying with underwater GPS, off fiji? yeah, baby.

the maasai marathon feels a little exploitative. is it just me? a marathon may not be a circus sideshow, but the whole thing feels a little squicky.

nevertheless, i wish the warriors all the best on their journey -- and, much more importantly, on the success of their water projects at home.
posted by CitizenD at 8:49 PM on April 7, 2008

I would just like to say that Maasai warriors look really badass.

Thank you.
posted by redteam at 9:46 PM on April 7, 2008

If I drink enough blood -- maybe two or three litres -- it gives me a lot of energy and I can go for days without food or water."

We have something in common then! I too am unable to eat for several days after I drink multiple litres of blood. People are really all pretty similar inside.
posted by GuyZero at 10:45 PM on April 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

the maasai marathon feels a little exploitative.

Well, the backers are definitely trying to PR the heck out of the event and play it for all the attention and curiosity they can get - but if it calls attention to the plight of the villagers and their need for water, and if the warriors can build goodwill and meet or hopefully exceed their goal, so much the better and what's the harm? The western world has exploited third world cultures for a lot less worthy reasons.

Every other week, some neighbor or colleague is looking for me to sponsor them for a walk for this or for that cause. This is something like that, only here the neighborhood is global. I'm going to threw a few bucks in and that will probably be the best money I spent this week.

But ya, mcd - that warm blood from the live cow is pretty gag worthy.
posted by madamjujujive at 10:46 PM on April 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

Actually the blood isn't too bad as it's usually mixed in with fresh milk.

I'm a little concerned about this, certainly the guide did seem a little patronising, almost as if it was written for publicity purposes. But aid work is often more about PR than anything else. I've been to their village - I have connections with the Maasai around Monduli - but that was before Greenforce, an organisation I don't know anything about, were around. I'm not a great admirer of 'aid tourism' that they practice. The picture of Maasai life presented is a bit 'National Geographic' and they do face serious challenges.

The Maasai are wonderful people. They make great and loyal friends and terrible enemies. I've learned several lessons in life from them, one being don't ever mess with the Maasai. They will kill you. Secondly, don't argue with them as they never, never back down.

Their culture and way of life is under threat, especially as pastoralism is becoming more and more unsustainable with climate change and many have settled and their reputation does guarantee them a large amount of autonomy; if you were a Tanzanian taxman, how happy would you feel about going into one of their villages and asking for money they don't want to pay?

I hope the guys do well in the race and I am confident that they will cope with any eccentricity England throws at them.
posted by quarsan at 11:19 PM on April 7, 2008 [2 favorites]

Cool post.

I stayed next to a Maasai village whilst in Kenya last year and got to know a few of the younger warriors. They're not big dudes - none of them were as tall as me and I'm a very average 5'10". But they are indeed badasses. One of them, Daniel, looked about 19 and fairly scrawny, and I didn't size him up for much until he handed me a lion's tooth as long as my index finger and told me it was from the first lion he killed. He killed it with a small spear and a sword about as long as my forearm.

I do hope they raise the funds they need, and I'll certainly be donating. Like people in many other parts of Africa, most Maasai ("all" is probably a safe way to put it, but I haven't been everywhere they live) live in huts made of mud or cattle dung and thatched roofs. They sleep on the ground, usually with a dried animal skin between them and the dirt. They have no electricity or clean running water, let alone basic plumbing / latrine systems.

Imagine coming from a life like that to London, where they could have as much clean water as they want. Imagine how mind-blowing that must be, especially when you're trying to raise money for it back home.

Thanks for linking back to the post about the cattle gift, missed that one first time around.
posted by allkindsoftime at 12:04 AM on April 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

Sounds great, as long as they don't start snacking on "their" British cows.
posted by Hello Dad, I'm in Jail at 12:18 AM on April 8, 2008

but if it calls attention to the plight of the villagers and their need for water, and if the warriors can build goodwill and meet or hopefully exceed their goal, so much the better and what's the harm? The western world has exploited third world cultures for a lot less worthy reasons.

And a simple Google search reveals other organizations raising money for similar projects, and opportunities for learning about the plight of Maasai villages and lack of drinking water. So it has indeed given me some enlightenment on something I was pretty ignorant about before.

madamjujujive, thank you for this wonderful post. It made me cry, thinking about all those children with no clean drinking water. I will give what I can to these guys, and hopefully all the Maasai will have access to clean water if we get our collective minds together and appeal to those with serious funds. Surely there is someone at some large company who can see a way to spare some money toward this cause.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 4:59 AM on April 8, 2008

Great post -- two things I'd like to highlight that I think are getting lost (generally, not just on MeFi) in the hubub about this - facts taken from from this link.

They are raising funds to drill deep bore holes to access possible subterranean water reservoirs.

Two of every Three children born in the village die before their fifth birthday due to contaimination in their current source of drinking water.

They are trying to raise a mere £20,000 - that's $39,392.64 US, or the price of nice sedan - to have this deep well dug. That's it.

Total current donations (at the time of this comment) total only £1,477.
posted by anastasiav at 5:06 AM on April 8, 2008

Well, that was quick. Per this page, the total is now £13,331.00.
posted by GrammarMoses at 6:19 AM on April 8, 2008

I think I cycled past them on Embankment this morning. They looked badass, a little cold, and completely unconcerned in the face of all us muppets gawping at them ("ooo, look - cool cloaks! cool jewelry! spears!").
posted by YouRebelScum at 6:27 AM on April 8, 2008

As a youth, he killed a lion with his bare hands.

It was a grizzly bear, and he had a knife. There was no element of surprise.
posted by ikkyu2 at 8:21 AM on April 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

Still £13,331 on GrammarMoses' page, but up to £19,643 over here. It's as worthy a cause as I've come across for a while, so I'll be throwing some money their way. Good luck to them.
posted by MrMustard at 9:36 AM on April 8, 2008

They should race in France. No one in France wears underpants.
posted by homunculus at 11:16 AM on April 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

Thanks madamjujujive! Great post.

However the following advice about customs from the Telegram article in the first link:

"Whereas at home for you it is acceptable to spit, in England it is not but, if you have to, you must do so in a sink or in some trees when no one is looking."

When nature calls they are advised to seek out a public convenience as opposed to using a tree or bush.

is exaclty 180 degrees of incorrect when applied to 99% of marathoners, especially during the event!
posted by stagewhisper at 7:54 PM on April 8, 2008

stagewhisper, I think Paula Radcliffe would benefit from reading the guide!
posted by quarsan at 10:35 PM on April 8, 2008

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