MOMBASA, Kenya (Reuters) – Maasai warrior Lempuris Lalasho went to Kenya’s tourist haven Mombasa to find a white woman to marry, but he ended up working as a hairdresser, a profession that is taboo in his culture.
His story opens a window on the strains faced by this ancient tribe as it adjusts to modern life in east Africa’s largest economy, whose Indian Ocean beaches lure thousands of tourists, including women seeking sex.
Maasai warriors, or moran, are a familiar sight on Kenya’s beaches and in its renowned safari parks — dressed in distinctive red robes and wearing beaded jewellery, they often act as guides or work in security.
But sometimes, the eager young men who flock to the coast hoping to make their fortunes — some with dreams of marrying a white tourist — have to go against their traditions.
Lalasho’s status as a moran means he is charged with protecting and providing for his people, and it makes his transgression all the more serious.
Maasai warriors are not allowed to touch a woman’s head: it is regarded as demeaning in the patriarchal culture. Moran who become hairdressers risk a curse from the elders, or could even be expelled from the community.
“If my father finds out what I am doing he will be very mad at me or even chase me from home,” said Lalasho, who comes from Loitoktok, near Mount Kilimanjaro on the border with Tanzania.
“But I have to eat, that’s why I broke my taboo since city life is very expensive,” he said.
An estimated 500,000 to one million Maasai live in scattered and remote villages across northern Tanzania and southern Kenya, eking out a semi-nomadic existence with herds of precious cows.
As drought and hunger bite harder in their rural homes due to climate change and increased competition for resources, hundreds of Maasai men are heading to towns and cities.
In tourist resorts like Mombasa, these men end up as hotel workers, night guards, herbalists and hairdressers.
Lalasho, who is illiterate and does not know his age, was inspired by the good fortune of a friend, Leishorwa Mesieki.
“My friend Leishorwa is now rich. He married a mzungu (white) woman who took him to … is it New Zealand or Switzerland? I don’t know. He came back to build a big house and bought so many cows. I envy him,” he added, shaking his head.
Lalasho did not have such luck and he was forced to use his skills at spinning hair, which he learnt during his initiation into moranhood in a thicket near Mount Kilimanjaro.
Morans learn to weave hair into thin, rasta-like dreadlocks during the initiation, which takes place when boys are aged between 17 and 20. The warriors’ hair is often dyed red as well, and the red style is popular among women in cities.
For Maasai elder Michael Ole Tiampati, the fate of men like Lalasho threatens the wider Maasai culture.
“It’s an abomination and demeaning for a moran or Maasai man to touch a woman’s head,” said Tiampati, media officer for the Maa Civil Society Forum, which protects Maasai traditions.
“They have gone against the cultural fibre … They have to pay a price to be accepted back into the society,” he said.
CULTURE UNDER THREAT
Kenya’s Maasai are based in the picturesque Great Rift Valley region, home to the famous Maasai Mara game park. But the tribe who gave the park its name earn little from tourism, which is among Kenya’s top three foreign currency earners.
This lack of revenue pushes young Maasai into other activities, but their increasing renown in tourist resorts is also bringing competition.
Men from tribes like the Kikuyu or Samburu are disguising themselves as Maasai on the beaches of Mombasa and elsewhere.
“Foreign tourists love Maasai for their sincerity. We are good-hearted people who do not feel jealous,” Lalasho said.
Tiampati is more explicit.
“(Maasai) warriors are perceived to be erotic, that is why women pensioners from Europe come to look for them. The warriors take a lot of herbs — some known to have Viagra-like contents like the bark of black acacia tree — to re-invigorate their loins.”
The copy-cat trend has angered some Maasai.
“It’s the beginning of an end of Maasai culture,” said tour guide Isac Oramat in Nairobi.
“Soon our tradition will just exist in books … I warn tourists to be aware of these fake Maasais.”
But for the morans in Mombasa, survival for now takes precedence over preserving their traditional ways.
“I have not gone to school. This is the only thing I can do,” said hairdresser Ole Sambweti Ndoika, 35.
“The women here love our style. We get good money … I hope to save enough to marry my second wife … by end of the year,” said the father-of-four from Narok in the Rift Valley.
Longishu Nyangusi, 25, also works as a hairdresser and like Lalasho came to Mombasa to find a white tourist wife. He says his lack of English has held him back.
“I could have hooked a white woman by now. I regret refusing to go to school. I was fooled by our fat cows and thought life is just fine,” he said near his open-air salon-cum-shop.
Handcuffing of 2 Black Men Waiting For Friend in Philadelphia Starbucks Called ‘Reprehensible Outcome’ by CEO
Two black men were handcuffed and paraded out the door of a Philadelphia Starbucks for allegedly refusing to leave when asked by staffers and police in an incident captured in a video that went viral and prompted the chief executive officer of the coffee company to say the “reprehensible outcome” should have never happened.
The video, posted by Melissa DePino, took place at around 4:30 p.m. on Thursday inside of a Starbucks on Spruce Street near South 18th Street.
DePino’s footage immediately went viral on Twitter, racking up more than 9 million views.
@Starbucks The police were called because these men hadn’t ordered anything. They were waiting for a friend to show up, who did as they were taken out in handcuffs for doing nothing. All the other white ppl are wondering why it’s never happened to us when we do the same thing. pic.twitter.com/0U4Pzs55Ci
— Melissa DePino (@missydepino) April 12, 2018
Starbuck’s CEO Kevin Johnson released a statement apologizing to the two men on behalf of the company and saying he hopes to meet with them to “offer a face-to-face apology.”
“The video shot by customers is very hard to watch and the actions in it are not representative of our Starbucks mission and values,” Johnson said in his statement released late Saturday. “Creating an environment that is both safe and welcoming for everyone is paramount for every store. Regretfully, our practices and training led to a bad outcome — the basis for the call to the Philadelphia police department was wrong. Our store manager never intended for these men to be arrested and this should never have escalated as it did.”
In an interview with ABC News, Melissa DePino, a 50-year-old writer and mother of two, said a Starbucks barista shouted from behind the counter at the two men to make a purchase or leave.
“They were sitting quietly minding their own business, and waiting for their friend to come,” she said.
DePino said she was so appalled by the incident, she plans to not go anymore to Starbucks.
“Plenty of other local places to go,” she said.
The incident caught on video also brought criticism from the mayor of Philadelphia, which has the nickname, City of Brotherly Love.
Mayor Jim Kenney tweeted: “I’m very concerned by the incident at Starbucks. I know Starbucks is reviewing it and we will be too. @PhillyPolice is conducting an internal investigation.”
— Jim Kenney (@PhillyMayor) April 14, 2018
On Saturday evening, the mayor put out another statement saying he was “heartbroken” to witness what “appears to exemplify what racial discrimination looks like in 2018.”
“For many, Starbucks is not just a place to buy a cup of coffee, but a place to meet up with friends or family members, or to get some work done,” he said in the statement.
Kenney also said that he had asked the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations to “examine the firm’s policies and procedures” and would be reaching out to Starbucks “to begin a discussion about this.”
He went on to add there would be “a thorough review” of police policies with regard to “complaints like this.”
The same day Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross Jr. posted a detailed account of the incident, in which he defended his officers’ actions.
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SOURCE: ABC News – M.L. Nestel
raceAhead: A New Nielsen Report Puts Black Buying Power at $1.2 Trillion
A new report from Nielsen on the current buying power of consumers of color offers a fascinating look at how we’re spending our money. For one, we seem to be eating a lot of vegetables.
For another, we’re shaping markets.
In the report Black Dollars Matter: The Sales Impact of Black Consumers, the message is clear: While African Americans make up just 14% of the population, we are responsible for some $1.2 trillion in purchases annually. Further, consumers of color are showing an outsized influence in several key consumer categories, and are increasingly demanding that businesses do and be better.
In some cases, black consumers make up over 50% of overall spending, such as the category of dry grains and vegetables. But other categories are stand-outs as well, like baby food (42.76%) personal soap and bath needs (41.64%) and air fresheners and deodorizers (38.29%).
But the big takeaway is the willingness of smart brands to respond to the needs and feedback of black shoppers.
“Our research shows that Black consumer choices have a ‘cool factor’ that has created a halo effect, influencing not just consumers of color but the mainstream as well,” says Cheryl Grace, Senior Vice President of U.S. Strategic Community Alliances and Consumer Engagement, Nielsen. “These figures show that investment by multinational conglomerates in R&D to develop products and marketing that appeal to diverse consumers is, indeed, paying off handsomely.”
But don’t try to play if you’re not ready.
Nielsen’s research shows that 38% of African Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 and 41% of those aged 35 or older expect the brands they buy to support social causes, outpacing the total population by 4% and 15%, respectively. The data also shows that once black-themed products are leaving the “ethnic” aisle and finding a wider audience. But the process can be fraught, as charismatic Shea Moisture founder Richelieu Dennis discovered last year when a poorly conceived video advertisement rankled their core customers.
Andrew McCaskill, Nielsen’s Senior Vice President, Global Communications and Multicultural Marketing, and long-time diversity advocate, breaks it down. “With 43% of the 75 million Millennials in the U.S. identifying as African American, Hispanic or Asian, if a brand doesn’t have a multicultural strategy, it doesn’t have a growth strategy,” he says.
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Industrial building in southern Dallas’ Redbird district sells to investor
A southern Dallas warehouse and manufacturing building has been acquired by a California investor.
San Francisco-based Polk Street Industrial LLC purchased the building in the Redbird area at 4949 Joseph Hardin Drive.
The industrial property purchase includes a 289,000 square foot manufacturing facility with 10 acres of storage yard plus an additional 24 acres of land contiguous to the leased facility and yard.
The building has been used by a pipe and plastics fitting manufacturer. Linron Properties sold the property in a transaction negotiated by JLL’s Dustin Volz, Zane Marcell and Grant Matthews.
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