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People of East Africa All images and text are copyright John Nicklin, all rights reserved


The People of East Africa


Finding the unexpected... One of the joys of travelling is finding the unexpected. We may travel to see ancient artifacts, or to view majestic landscapes, or to see wildlife in its natural habitat. What we find can be very different from what we expected. East Africa draws thousands of tourists every year, most on safari to see the migrations on the savannah, the great plains of Kenya and Tanzania. On one such safari, to see the wealth of animals migrating across the Maasai Mara and the Serengeti National Reserves Janice and I encountered the unexpected, the people of East Africa. All images and text are copyright John Nicklin, all rights reserved


The People of East Africa


The vitality of local markets is not just in the array of colourful fabrics, trinkets, and souvenirs, but in the people who make their living selling to locals and tourists. For some, getting off of their tour bus is a daunting experience, as they are immediately assailed by street vendors with an passion for selling just about anything and sometimes, everything. If they don’t have it, they will assure you they can get it in short order. Making a purchase doesn’t signal that you are finished, it really means that you have only just started. And fleeing to the safety of your ride doesn’t deter the finest of the local entrepreneurs. I was told that if a vendor makes a sale in the first half hour of business it brings good luck, and if you bring good luck to one why not bring luck to all?

All images and text are copyright John Nicklin, all rights reserved


The People of East Africa


Every child in Kenya attends school; an attempt by the Kenyan government to raise literacy and prepare the new generation for life in a changing world. The languages here are Swahili and English, the latter being a leftover from the heady days of the British Empire. Armed with the lingua franca of both the majority of Africa and the western world, these young people will be poised to lead their country into new realities and economies. They’re nice kids too.

All images and text are copyright John Nicklin, all rights reserved


The People of East Africa


Old and new technology is evident everywhere in the countryside. Recycled parts make for a decent wagon. Donkeys with their wagons share the road with the latest motor vehicles, pedestrians, bicycles and motorcycles. The results can be bucolic or chaotic, but nobody seems to get overly excited either way.

All images and text are copyright John Nicklin, all rights reserved


Designer jeans and cell phones co-exist with traditional costume throughout East Africa. On the same street, it is common to see women in traditional dress carrying heavy loads on their heads and babies on their backs alongside women in business dress carrying briefcases‌ and babies on their backs. The People of East Africa


All images and text are copyright John Nicklin, all rights reserved


The People of East Africa


Kids are kids, some shy, some bold. A smile is infectious. Ingenuity is endemic. A few of the boys showed us the toy trucks they made from milk cartons, bottle caps and bits of wire. If you can’t buy it, make it.

All images and text are copyright John Nicklin, all rights reserved


When we arrived at our tent camp in the Maasai Mara, we came upon this fashion statement. She chose a party dress, but her little brother got by with a hoodie, a night-shirt and a pair of sandals. Each to his, or her, own.

The People of East Africa


All images and text are copyright John Nicklin, all rights reserved


The People of East Africa


We passed a Maasai village each morning and evening during our time on the Kenyan savannah. On our last afternoon, we stopped in to meet the villagers.

All images and text are copyright John Nicklin, all rights reserved


The people of Ololaimutiek village live a traditional life, herding goats and cattle on the savannah and wearing traditional clothing with some western adornments like baseball caps and runners. The headdress worn by the horn player (literally) is fashioned from a male lion’s mane. Traditionally, young warriors come of age by tracking and killing a male lion before they are recognized as adult men in their community.

The People of East Africa


All images and text are copyright John Nicklin, all rights reserved


The People of East Africa


All images and text are copyright John Nicklin, all rights reserved


The People of East Africa


In Ololaimutiek, as in many other traditional Maasai villages, people live in huts made from wooden skeletons covered with mud and straw plaster. Urban renewal, of a sort, is constant in Maasai villages; buildings are abandoned about every 10 years because of termite damage. Rather than rebuilding house by house, the whole village picks up and moves a few hundred yards down the trail.

Family life is cramped, especially so considering that some of the animals spend their nights indoors with the humans.

This young warrior to be is led to the village meeting area where he will demonstrate his prowess in the warrior "jumping" dance, where young Maasai morani (warrior youth) leap into the air from a standing position to show their strength and prowess.

All images and text are copyright John Nicklin, all rights reserved


The little warrior and one of his fellow Maasai morani demonstrate their jumping abilities for their admiring fans. The warriors with the most prowess can jump thigh-high from a standing position. Young men in our group managed to get both feet off the ground, barely.

The People of East Africa


All images and text are copyright John Nicklin, all rights reserved


Unlike many traditional tribal societies, Maasai women have a strong voice in the governance of their communities. Their shaved heads, bright clothing , and a missing bottom tooth identify them as Maasai women.

The People of East Africa


All images and text are copyright John Nicklin, all rights reserved


While their parents wear the traditional robes of the Maasai, the children wear more western clothing. It seems that its just easier for all concerned to adopt this custom. Most young adults change their garb as they get older and take on a larger role in the community.

The People of East Africa


Some things transcend cultural boundaries. This pair of young spies observed our group from their hidden position in the grass. They were no doubt practising for future lion hunts.

All images and text are copyright John Nicklin, all rights reserved


The People of East Africa


All images and text are copyright John Nicklin, all rights reserved


Many of the villages we passed through had some hints of a religious underpinning. in this case, the HAND OF GOD SHOP, in another village we spotted the Blessings Pub, but we were not sure which religion that one was.

The People of East Africa


All images and text are copyright John Nicklin, all rights reserved


A leisurely stop at a soapstone carving factory gave us an opportunity to see many workers, mostly women, practising their trade as stone carvers.

This factory has a large business making and marketing traditional and some not so traditional wares. One of their high volume items is a small soapstone heart, dyed red and inscribed with various sayings all destined for the North American market. Watching the speed and skill these carvers used to fashion lions, giraffes, hippos, and other wildlife from lumps of stone was both amazing and just a little frightening.

The People of East Africa


All images and text are copyright John Nicklin, all rights reserved


When we crossed over into Tanzania, we stopped to buy charcoal at a small roadside village. The making and selling of charcoal is illegal in Tanzania, which means that everyone does it. While we waited for our cook and the driver to make the deal, several children appeared to stare at the tourists.

The People of East Africa


All images and text are copyright John Nicklin, all rights reserved


The People of East Africa


Our exploration crew included fellow travelers from Canada, the UK, Australia and the USA. Many thanks to the great adventure people at G-adventures and to the people of Kenya and Tanzania who welcomed us to their beautiful countries. Special thanks to Wilson, our primary guide, Silliman, our driver and load master, and to our cook Nick. All images and text are copyright John Nicklin, all rights reserved


People of Africa - John Nicklin, 2012 The People of East Africa

People of East Africa  

The people we met on our journey through Kenya and Tanzania