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From Maasai beadwork and construction projects to locally sourced milk and honey, Angama Mara’s Financial Controller Misheck Murage shares the stories behind our community of homegrown suppliers
The Great Rift Valley, home to the Maasai, largely consists of pastoralist communities who depend on their livestock to uplift their economic stature. Herds of cattle and many children are their pride. Daily they pray to The Creator to grant them more cattle and children – Meishoo iyiok Enkai inkishu o-nkera. However, there has been a paradigm shift in their way of life as they are now forced to the adapt to the changes in their environment resulting in shortage of pasture caused by drought and the creep of western civilization.
In 2015, the Maasai welcomed Angama Mara into their community. At Angama, we are committed to delighting our guests and making a difference by supporting our neighbours who have embraced change and decided to take a chance. Every month we spend over USD10,000 to empower our grassroots suppliers. This has gone towards educating their children, access to better medical services and savings for future needs.
Naanyu wakes up at 5am to prepare her sons for school. She then heads out from her manyatta to the cowshed where she prepares her 8 cows for milking giving her 5 litres of milk a day. She gets 3 litres a day from Ndambu and Norumongi, her recent acquisitions after she sold a steer. There are five families who supply milk at a monthly cost of USD650 to the lodge.
Kenyans love to drink chai and local milk is the main ingredient: 15 litres unpasteurized milk; 10 litres water; 200gms tealeaves; 2.5 kg sugar. Pour milk into a large pot and bring to boil. Add water and bring back to the boil. Add tealeaves and sugar and boil until tea turns brown. Sieve into a kettle ready to serve.
Joseph Ole Kipembeu is our main vegetable supplier. He knows too well that our food should always be good. The weekly supplies include cabbage, kale, tomatoes, onions, watermelons and bananas for the staff as well as avocadoes, which our guests devour by the dozen. Joseph, a father of four, embraced modern farming styles and animal husbandry as an income-generating venture. He recently acquired another 20 acres for his cattle and a new motorbike. Angama spends USD 2,000 monthly on locally sourced vegetables.
It is said that traditional Maasai beehives yield more honey than modern hives. John Penko, our Maasai naturalist, also doubles as the reliable supplier of Maasai honey. He harvests 20kgs of honey in one traditional beehive but much less from the modern hives. We use the honey to make Maasai Honey Biscuits for the guest tents. Our guests also enjoy Dawa, an East African mojito made with local honey, which has a lovely smoky flavour.
Mr Kanoi is our trusted mbuzi (goat meat) supplier. When slow cooked, mbuzi makes the favourite delicacy for our Angama staff. Partying at the lodge never goes without a mbuzi barbeque. In a good month, Mr Kanoi, father of six, receives USD 1,000 for supplying 230kgs of mbuzi.
Mr Dahir is our local hardware supplier from Mara Rianta, 10kms from the lodge. He receives up to USD 5,000 for projects undertaken at the lodge. From the construction of our clinic; a greenhouse at the shamba; office deck and the new staff gym, Mr Dahir has been a key reliable source of local materials.
We have contracted eight beautiful Maasai ladies at the beading studio in our Safari Shop to custom make key rings, bracelets, necklaces, lampshades and Christmas decorations among other items. Working in flexible teams of four they can also customize beadwork on guests’ clothing and happily teach our guests the art of Maasai beading.
We are proud that the community has embraced change and taken a chance to explore more sources of livelihoods by becoming our homegrown suppliers. We gave our local community half a chance and they took it…
“The only safe thing is to take a chance.” (Michael Nichols)