The new National Geographic Magazine arrived in the mail yesterday. My mother subscribes to the magazine for me and I usually read through the entire magazine. I love the reports about strange places and strange nature that my husband and I have often seen in our travels. There was a little page blurb in the December magazine showing a Masai junior warrior doing the famous Masai jump. (See my post from 11/7/2013 on this blog.) But this photo is accompanied by a very interesting story about the Masai and their worldwide fame.Surprising to me was the fact that worldwide there are 80 products which include even expensive items such as cars, clothing and jewelry that carry the name of this tribe. I have not seen advertisements for these products but I would guess that images of these famous warriors are used to sell these items. If no images, for sure the worldwide known stature of this Kenyan and Tanzanian tribe are used. But as indicated by Isaac Ole Tialolo, speaking for the Masai Intellectual Property Initiative, no one has asked the Masai's permission to so use their name, reputation, and indeed their branding to sell these products.
This Initiative organization is now reaching out to all the clans of the 3 million strong Masai nation, to elect an authorizing council to review requests to use this Masai branding and to review those products that already use the name. The plan would be similar to what our southwestern Navajo have done. Any merchandise that has been approved by the Council would bear a certificate that it is either manufactured and produced by Masai themselves, or their design and name has been officially approved by this Initiative. "As the cultural owners, we want respect," says Tialolo. "We want to protect our heritage, our name, our image."
Article by Johanna Rizzo.
|Here you can see the beadwork that the warriors|
wear, around the neck, the wrist, and the waist. These
two guides are serving us the morning coffee break.
They are also wearing the olive green fleece sweaters
of the Kenyan National Guide Service
|Here is the rustic Masai beadwork store at Porini Amboselli Camp.|
|The beadwork inside the Masai store.|
When we were in Kenya and Tanzania, we purchased a few things that were definitely of Masai origin. At Porini Amboselli Camp there was a small rustic store which was selling particularly beadwork done by the women of the local Masai village. I actually purchased a beautiful orange multistranded necklace which I like very much for just the equivalent of $11.00, and my husband got a beaded collar. As you can see from the accompanying photos the Masai warriors all wear many forms of beaded work, but mostly around the neck and around the waist. These items could easily be branded Masai just as the Navajo silver jewelry is branded.
Also the Masai make walking sticks and shields. Of course they also make their famous spears but I didn't see any of those for sale in the Masai store at Porini. There were some shields for sale. And in other souvenir shops along the way there were shields, and drums which might have come from some of the Masai tribes.
|African shields, maybe of Masai design.|
|This is the necklace I purchased at the Porini store. It is just|
made of glass beads and brass couplings, but it certainly
involved a lot of hours of labor to string all of these beads.
I found it quite attractive and am wearing it often.