We had some family over from the Netherlands, so we enjoyed a week’s break to see the beautiful landscapes and animals of Kenya. We went on safari to the most famous of the national parks of Kenya: Masai Mara.
The drive from Nairobi to the park alone was worth the whole three-day trip. It took us 5 hours, half of which on unpaved roads. As the rainy season had just ended, everything was very green so there was plenty of food for the herds. And we saw a lot of those! The Masai, one of Kenya’s tribes, are famous for their livestock. They roam the vast savannas with their herds of sometimes many hundreds of cows, goats and/or sheep. They are still a very traditional people. For example, they still wear the colorful traditional cloth wrapped around them. They build their villages in a circle, allowing them to keep their herds in the center at night and keep the wild animals out. The number of animals a Masai possesses is a very important measure of his wealth and status. I discussed this later with a Kenyan who had enjoyed higher education. He told me that there is a lack of knowledge and knowledge dissemination on cattle keeping. Deworming of cattle for instance is seldom done, but it would improve the health of the livestock and output significantly. It takes more education to get this message across.
Kenyans are overall quite reluctant to invest upfront when there is no immediate need. Health insurance is another example of that. I discussed this with several people and most of them believe they will not need it and have a better purpose for the money. With my Dutch background I would feel very uncomfortable without health insurance; in the Netherlands we tend to over-insure ourselves.
Maintenance, for example on cars, is also an upfront investment that is seldom done. It is unbelievable what cars are still driving around on the Kenyan roads. Especially the public transport minibuses, called Matatuses, are driven until they literally break down. The engineers designing those could never have imagined what people would do with them. Lots of cars also emit black smoke. I would imagine that this costs a lot of additional fuel and oil, and an investment in maintenance would pay back, but that does not seem to be the general Kenyan feeling.
In Masai Mara we were driven around in a safari bus and saw a lot of beautiful animals. Elephants were numerous and impressive. It took us some effort to find lions, but in the end we came across a complete family. And a lot of other safari buses, as the word had spread around. Fortunately the animals did not seem to be disturbed by all this attention.