Business Acumen I

I proudly clutch my Masai dancing stick. I earned it. I danced with the warriors. I’ve also paid for it.

The Masai welcome us warmly after the young chief deftly separates the dollars and shillings, counts the Canadian tribe, and counts the money, which then disappears under  his red blanket. They have pockets under there?

The warriors dance for us, demonstrate the jumping contest springing high from a standstill, their  long thin legs, wire springs. The men of our group are invited to compete. The  warrior who jumps highest has the most girlfriends. The Canadian judged winner has a wife who says no girlfriends allowed. The Masai say never mind  girlfriends; what about cows? Do we have cows in Canada? We do. Good. All cows  belong to the Masai. They’ll be coming to Canada to claim their cows. All  cows belong to the Masai.

I’m given a dancing stick and invited to join them. I do my best to imitate the steps and  must have it right because now I’m wearing the lion skin hat. We circle under  the blazing sun and others of the Canadian tribe are invited to join in. The warriors grin, shake our hands, and tell us to keep the dancing sticks.

We watch a demonstration of fire starting. “We don’t buy matches,” the warrior says.  “They’re too dangerous. The children could start a fire and burn down the  compound. Starting fires our way is very hard and the children can’t do it.”

It is hard. It involves sticks and spinning a wooden rod and a whole lot of discussion, and fetching of fresh sticks and more spinning and more discussion, but at last they are successful. We applaud and cheer.

We’re shown inside their homes, come back into the open, and suddenly we’re negotiating a price  for the dancing sticks. Clever, clever Masai. We danced with the warriors. We’re not about to give up our dancing sticks. We pay. Have to admire their  business acumen.


8 comments on “Business Acumen I

  1. It’s all about marketing, isn’t it? At least you got good entertainment along with your “free” dancing stick (that you ended up paying for).
    Great adventure!

  2. Hi,
    I was looking for info on the Masai Dancing stick I bought from the Masai while in Kenya this July. It looks like we visited the same village. They are slick marketers, but it was so much fun! Your storytelling is so much better! The secret to dealing with them: have no more money in your pockets. I wish I had more money when I visited. I was able to but the stick, but nothing else. They did keep wanting to trade for my Timex running watch. I held on it, but I bet you could make a lot of good deals if you brought a bunch of cheap digital watches. They were eyeing mine from the first time we met them, but they tried to trade with others on our trip too. Someone trade for a knife.

    • You’re right – the visit was so much fun. The whole trip was amazing, the very best of all the travelling I have done, no question.

  3. Great story! Very clever marketing. Let the customer hold it, use it, and then they try to take it back. We always become children at that point. You gave it to me. It’s mine. hehe At least that’s how I am.

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