During our safari, we will visit Bura, a small village not far from our Lodge. There, we will spend a day in the life of the Taita, one of the 47 tribes in Kenya.
Upon arrival, Mwamburi and his people welcomed us to his house. I love their smiles and genuine warmth.
I still remember the day I first met them. I was looking for a cultural experience for my lodge guests. In Maasai Mara we had the Maasai with their jumping dances, but here I was unsure.
A colleague once mentioned the Taita drums and Mwazindika ceremony. So I began asking around.
I finally found a few groups who could perform and invited them to the lodge. I watched ceremonies by four different groups, all amazing and unique. But Mwamburi’s group was different. Their performance gave me goosebumps – the energy, smiles and joy truly resonated. They were the one.
The house is a normal cement structure surrounded by an amazing, vegetation-rich garden. They built for us a small hut in the traditional way, demonstrating how their culture has evolved over the years.
I immersed myself in their daily activities. The women tought me how to cook beans and sweet potatoes over the fire, laughing lightheartedly when my first attempt of blowing the beans in the air falls flat. (coordination it’s an issue…)
Last year they suffered a drought like everyone else in Kenya, but this year the rains have blessed us all and the shamba had plenty of vegetables and fruit-laden trees.
They explained which plants can heal infections and relieve pain as we walked through scrubby fields. They gave me a stick, saying “This serves as our lipstick and toothbrush – if you keep it in your mouth, your lips will turn orange.”
Curious, I kept the stick in my mouth, hoping for naturally colored and maybe plumper lips. After a while, my tongue was definitely orange and my lips had orange patches, making me look like I ate tomato sauce and didn’t wipe my mouth.
We stopped to pick small red berries from a shrubby tree and they handed me some. Sinking my teeth into the red skin, sweetness burst across my tongue – I knew this succulent fruit!
The locals call them “Matunda damu,” which literally means “fruit blood” in Swahili, referencing the deep red stain the berries leave behind. But I recognized these small, tasty berries immediately – they are mulberries, known as gelsi back home in Italy. This little and tasty berries have colored countless childhood Sicilian summers, leaving my fingers red and soul satisfied.
Revealing more traditions, they patiently taught me how to extract strong fibers from sisal leaves and twist rope against the skin – but mine apparently wasn’t good enough. 🙂
Our day winds down with the Mwazindika ceremony. Soon, the pounding of drums fills the air, with ancient rhythms echoing through the plains.
We form a dancing circle, joining hands with the villagers as bare feet trace patterns in the dust keeping time with the accelerating beat.
As the tempo rises, we move together, men and women, visitors and tribespeople alike, distinctions vanishing in the dance.
I close my eyes, letting the drums and chants surround me. In this community tied so closely to nature and tradition, I feel profoundly peaceful, as if the outside world with all its modern concerns has fallen away.
I’ll see you there.
Watch the video here
Check the itinerary here