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A Year in the Map Room

Out of the guest tents and into the Map Room, Leshan reflects on his first year in his new role — and his new office
Above: Leshan and his trusty map of the Mara

It has been a year since Angama's Map Room opened, and a year since I began my new career as both the 'Map Room Officer' and as a naturalist — a double blessing for me. Before this, I was a tent steward but my heart had always been in nature. Here, I give our guests an introduction to Maasai culture and the Mara, which is important because they are connected.

Leshan, and many maps, help orient guests
Maps tell the stories of where we've been

The orientation of the room allows me to share my culture easily with guests. You will often find me sitting with them around the big table discussing what it means to be Maasai and showing some of the cultural ornaments in the room to give them a better idea of traditional Maasai life.

People of all different ages come into the Map Room and I enjoy interacting with them all. I carry a Maasai talking stick called a rungu so I can maintain order (once I have explained how the talking stick works, of course). The children often want to play in the room with dress up or games, which is a lot of fun. Other guests will explain what they know about the Maasai people which opens the way to many other stories and so the conversation flows. I especially like to tell them stories about the Maasai Olympics and what ‘sports’ we engage in to demonstrate our strength — sometimes our guests want to try to learn how to perform in these events.

Too many rungus for one group
Training future warriors

Spending my days exploring history and geography, the things I left in high school, reminds me that there is no end to learning. It is very rewarding when guests get excited about Maasai culture and ask countless questions about the origins of things. While I am the one who is teaching, I sometimes learn from the guests too and they make me think about many things that I had never wondered about before. In this way, it is very nice to talk to people from all over the world and see my life and my culture through their eyes.
 
Over the years, the Maasai have gathered many stories and the Map Room helps me tell them. It’s important for me to understand each guest and their favourite subjects, such as cartography, movies or culture, so that I can choose the best stories to tell them.

The Map Room is also a movie theatre — hakuna mata

There are many different ways of sharing stories and we try to do it like the old days, with maps and verbal storytelling. Guests can also have some quiet time and read books here and it is a great place for entertainment, with a gramophone, Marshall speaker, DVD player and projector for movies. The Maasai also have different instruments in the Map Room such as the Maasai horn and some bells that, when tied in different ways, signal different kinds of information in different Maasai celebrations.

Leshan finding his light

Even though the Map Room has been open for a year, there are still so many things for me to learn and things I would like to add from my culture, but all will come with time. What is important is that when guests leave the Map Room, they feel more connected to the culture of the Maasai people and the beautiful land we live in.

Filed under: Inside Angama

Tagged with:

Angama Team , Maasai Culture , Map Room

About: Leshan Nadallah

For as long as he can remember, Leshan has loved being outdoors. He started his career at Angama as a tent steward but quickly found his true calling as a naturalist.

Browse all articles by Leshan Nadallah Meet the angama team

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