Masai Tale

The project is a photographic illustration of one of the archetypal African tales related to manhood initiation.

It is a story of an orphaned boy who inherited a wonderful, milking cow from his parents. The cow gives him an illusion of prosperity and safety. The boy dreams of becoming a warrior. However, he is not happy. He drinks milk but contrary to his sister, he is not growing. One day his cow is stolen by a hostile tribe. The boy asks other warriors for help, but they tell him that he needs to retrieve the cow himself…

The project describes the journey to manhood, it tells of the dreams, feelings of loss and weakness, overcoming of fear, and final discovery and acceptance of one’s own strengths.  At the same time, it’s a documentary record with archival value; most of these archetypal African tales are passed down through the generations verbally, and many of them have yet to exist in written form. Most probably, none of them have been illustrated through photographs before. Thus, the project included also records and transcripts of the original spoken tale.  

“Masai Tale” was made in 2010 during a series of visits to the Laikipia, Kenya, which is an enclave inhabited by the warlike Maasai tribe – one of the largest African tribes that continues to uphold ancient traditions. Laikipia lies within the Great Rift Valley in Africa, a region described by anthropologists as the cradle of civilisation.