KENYA: The Maasai Spirit

This series of images was taken while on assignment in the Maasai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya. As we were leaving the reserve one day our driver suggested we stop at a nearby Maasai village. I thought it would be just a quick stop and a chance to pickup some handmade souvenirs.

Knowing that the Maasai depend on tourists to supplement their subsistence farming, I didn't expect the warmth of our welcome and the genuine dialogue I would have with the chief. He introduced us to the village, showing every aspect of their daily life. Speaking passionately about the realities confronting the Maasai people and the hard choices they must make in order to preserve their cultural identity - from environmental issues threatening their homes and grazing lands, exposure to tourists and the lure of modern life. 

He was an erudite speaker, having mastered English and more than 6 African languages. This worldliness empowered him to make mindful decisions governing the collective future of his tribe. All the while recognizing the hypocrisies of a first world existence. In his village no one went hungry, loneliness and depression did not exist and the elders were a revered and integral part of the social dynamic.

He encouraged me to take photos, wanting to share their simple but dignified life, beautiful aesthetic and overt happiness. I hope these images honor the chief's wishes and convey some of the Maasai spirit.


Julien Capmeil is an Australian born photographer living in New York. His work has appeared in many publications worldwide including Vogue, GQ and Conde Nast Traveler.

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