This is why I asked all those questions about marrying into another culture the other day. (Thank you to all who commented!) I think I was still in disbelief about how this book ended, about the trouble Corinne encountered and how if what she wrote is true**, I could not have stayed either. And although I get infatuated with other cultures and people from other countries pretty quickly, I don't believe I would have married someone like this in the first place. I suppose my practical side is just too strong in some matters.
SPOILER ALERT: If you want to read this book, this may tell you too much information.
The White Masai by Corinne Hofmann -- A Swiss lady goes to Kenya
with her live-in boyfriend, sees a beautiful Masai warrior, realizes she's in
love with this long, lean man, and decides to go back to Kenya with the goal of living there with
him. They don't even speak the same language! As in, no common language because she knows very little English and neither does he. Forget his knowing German or her knowing his tribal language.
After reading the first chapter or two, I was laughing at myself
for reading such a book, but I stuck it out. And it was pretty
interesting. I did enjoy the cultural aspects, and mentioning the
Samburu was great since Andrew had his own experiences with them just
last December when he went to South Horr. In fact when they talked
about a wedding ceremony, slaughtering goats, drinking the blood, and the circumcision
ceremony, I had pictures and tales from Andrew's trip to help me
visualize what Corinne experienced.
By the way, Corinne refused the cliterodectomy when she had her marriage ceremony. Her husband told the tribe that white women had that done as babies so Corinne wouldn't have to undergo this rite of passage.
Some things I learned: warriors cannot eat meat that women prepare
although they can drink tea - and they like it plenty sweet. Masai don't kiss - the mouth is for eating. Never ever ever use both hands while eating. Everyone will stop and a hush will come over the crowd as they stare at you for violating social norms. When
Corinne brought a brown baby doll to someone as a gift, the little girl
ran away and even the grandmother recoiled in horror. "Is this really a
dead baby?" they wondered. This book showed how frustrating it is to
own a vehicle in Kenya - or at that time anyway. I remember Andrew
speaking of how bad the roads were and how often tires needed changing.
You just expect delays from flat tires when you go anywhere there, I
I think the greatest lesson I learned from this book is to make sure
of the other person before you invade his culture. While I admire
Corinne's sincere attempts to fit in, I was struck even more with how
difficult cross cultural marriages can be - especially when there are
such vast differences. (Or maybe her husband truly was crazy.) There are sequels to this book so maybe things
turned out better in the long run.
** I realize, too, that I never got to hear the Masai warrior's
point of view, his perspective since he didn't write a book. I don't
think he could have. He didn't know how to read or write much.