Saturday 9th, January 2021
I hear from a friend dating back to our school years… back in the days when we were there to learn… as though when we left we’d be prepared for everything. She wrote:
-I’m sorry I’ve taken so long to get back to you but I was waiting for a quiet, calm moment for that, but there’s just no way.
I found that reflection on intelligence and wisdom very interesting and Simón’s reply very tender. (Reference to post nº 1 of this Blog). Intelligence can have a cold connotation to it and wisdom is warm. There may be many types of intelligence but wisdom is unique.
Someone can be very intelligent, but that doesn’t tell you anything else about the person, whether nice, unfriendly, unsociable, clumsy, out of the ordinary, fantastic … being a wise person denotes more and calls up and suggests many qualities: the aforementioned warmth, reflection, full intelligence, tenderness. Knowing how to use all that baggage of experiences, shaping a way of being, maximizing tolerance in all situations in life.
The desire to learn must always be nurtured.-
It is helpful and clarifying for me to read that intelligence can connote coolness while the connotation of wisdom is warm. I easily understand that warmth is welcoming and gives affection, that it is sweet and never bitter. We left school a long time ago; perhaps they did teach us that there is always a path open to us, to learn.
I continue pondering these ideas, those that serve as my personal building blocks.
I wonder if one must be intelligent to be wise. I’m well aware of the path of learning I am on, but I always think of the calm wisdom of a shepherd with his flock, with his many hours of solitude and silence, without access to great tests of intelligence … With the innate tranquility of Peace conquered, of the Accepted life. Is achieving Wisdom the great challenge of humanity? Someone — I believe a biologist — told me that we could also destroy ourselves.
MAASAI CULTURE. “Admired and treated with deference by all younger persons, the Maasai Elder looks forward to an old age not of isolation and fear but of continuing involvement in the life of the people.”
From the book -Maasai- from Tipelit Ole Saitoti
We have launched “Manyatta Memories” as a “venue” for first meetings and conversations with some prominent representatives of the Maasai community. They always surprise us and we greatly value their ancestral culture, so distant from ours. They stopped time and said “No” to advancements and evolution. Many of them, still today, continue to live as their ancestors did long ago.
We have had, in fact, two meetings, even though the “manyatta” is not yet ready in terms of the message that we want to convey through its contents: a cultural legacy of history and life with emphasis placed on the Elephants, the Maasai culture, Evolution and the many personal stories of those who have lived here and formed part of the history of this country, Kenya.
The first meeting focused on their traditional medicine, which they call “DAWA.” We asked some members of the community for recommendations on who could inform us about the characteristics of the different plants, roots and trunks that they use to maintain and strengthen their health. The Maasai do not go to “doctors and hospitals” except in cases of force majeure. We want our “Manyatta Memories” to document and bear witness to that knowledge still very present in their culture.
They directed us to Mzee Mpeti. We explained to him that we are interested in documenting that knowledge that, maybe a generation from now, could end up being lost. We expressed our interest in learning about and documenting these roots and plants, and asked if he could provide us with some samples and explain how and why they are used. I think that, somewhat surprised, he nodded in agreement and offered to be our first teacher.
One morning he shows up with a bag full of samples, and we ask “Branice,” a young and very elegant Maasai who has just finished her studies as a primary school teacher — and by chance is now at the Camp — if she could translate for us. They are always very friendly and appreciate that we take an interest in them.
The second meeting was with Mzee Ntutu, the oldest Maasai in the community. He belongs to the well-known group of “Elders” of the Maasai culture. The “Elders” are the old men who have carried on the Maasai tradition and did not adhere to the Christianity that came with the British colonization.
In this case the conversation centered on the sacred trees of the “River Trail” that runs through our Camp. Why these trees are sacred to them, what significance they carry, and what ceremonies are celebrated beneath them.
We come to realize just how complex the Maasai culture and tradition is. His explanations are long but the translations much more concise. They explain that expressing an idea in the Maasai language requires many more words than in our Western languages. The meeting took some time.
All of us here are working to give one last push that will allow us to open, taking into consideration all the details that we consider important.
Shopping, transportation, meetings, conversations, decisions … work.
We have continued preparing the Camp to be ready for opening.
Back home again, looking at the photos, I find it hard to believe that all of this has now become a reality. And not because it has not involved a sustained effort throughout this year, with constant perseverance, day after day…
The strength and commitment of an entire team that we often refer to as the “Enkopiro Team”!!! … A way of giving ourselves encouragement, of knowing that we will succeed. It is not easy to believe that dreams can come true…
NOTA: He luchado con estas últimas frases marcadas abajo en amarillo que me sonaban un poquito forzadas en inglés. 1) “Un trato de gran exclusividad aprovechando las circunstancias que vivimos”. I don’t exactly know what the message is here. I would avoid the word “exclusividad” and I don’t exactly understand what specifically is meant by “las circunstancias que vivimos”. I don’t know if my shorter suggestion works. 2) “Vivir el privilegio de esta naturaleza exige un cierto grado de intimidad”. Again, I don’t know if I have reflected your idea correctly. Puedo hacer los retoques necesarios según tus indicaciones.
We start off this first phase with two tents, each able to accommodate 2–3 people, and provide guests with utmost privacy, offering a quiet, personal space that our current circumstances call for. We will continue working on the third tent, and so on until the 5 tents that we initially proposed are completed.
The privilege of enjoying this natural setting calls for a certain degree of intimacy.
“I came back time and again. I was able to enjoy and get to know the silence in the landscape, before infinite horizons, beneath its clouds and skies. With the wild animals I learned about the laws of the origins of life. I learned that, in the struggle for survival, animals would eat each other. And there I felt the cruelty of the stronger one eating the smaller or weaker. Moreover in the Maasai tribe, the one that had fought to maintain its culture, despite the passing of the times I could witness the origins of mankind at a certain point of evolution.” From the Book -The African Elephant- Lisette Pons.