Hello, Mary Bowman-Kruhm here. I am about to fly to Kenya and am delighted Marc is giving me an opportunity to share what I discover there with you. Because of the present volatile political situation, I’m a little nervous. But, as a former high school teacher and special education administrator, I’m familiar with the unexpected! Along the way, I’ve also written over 30 books for toddlers to young adults.
Researching a biography of the Leakey family of anthropological fame took me to Kenya in 2004 and I immediately fell in love with the country. Three years ago my husband and I decided to financially help a bright young man, Jackson Minteeng Liaram, continue his education. Jackson is a Maasai warrior, who, in their brilliant red and blue tunics, spear in hand, often visually represent the other 99% of Kenya’s population. After receiving a poignant snail mail letter thanking us for our help I felt I had to write his story.
On this trip I’ll spend several days interviewing Jackson, now a nature specialist at a camp in the Maasai Mara, a vast wildlife reserve where humans are guests. Jackson respects traditional Maasai values but also quests for information about the larger world. Last spring after a day herding cattle, Jackson sent me an e-mail from new laptop computer, “’Now I’m with you in the Internet. Two worlds!’” Jackson has agreed to answer your questions about either of his worlds. Post a question as a comment and it will be forwarded to him.
As for me, I plan to spend several weeks mucking around in a palette overflowing with ideas:
· Concern that many American young people are comfortable in an electronic world but not a natural world and can’t, like Jackson, seamlessly move between both.
· Wonder at how Jackson has leaped several millennia from a pastoral world with no electricity, no running water, and a monetary system based on cattle into a Westernized 21st century.
· Questions how Kenya’s history sent a country considered stable with a growing economy into a trajectory of chaos and violence.
· Reflection on the Maasai culture, with its emphasis on living in harmony with nature and leaving a small environmental footprint.
Your comments definitely welcomed!