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.
Landscaping business owner helps fatherless kids through non-profit in Ennis, Waxahachie
Justin Chappell grew up without a father. Much later in life, he did find his heavenly father and now helps other fatherless children to do the same.
Chappell is an Ennis resident who runs two businesses in Ellis County – Bama Landscaping in Ennis and Chappell’s Copieshop in Waxahachie. Chappell said he works tirelessly throughout the week for both of his businesses, but he runs the two to fund his real passion: Bloodz For Christ, a non-profit he founded in 2009 to support and minister inner-city youth in low-income communities.
He said the goal was to help the next generation through one-on-one mentorships and relationships some of them might not have had at home.
“I donate probably about 85 percent of whatever profit we make to my nonprofit to keep these kids off the streets,” Chappell said. “My business is pretty much the only thing funding my nonprofit.” ″
But years before he even thought of starting BOC, Chappell had a bleak past that was filled with drugs, gangs and jail bars. He said he was able to overcome it with God’s help, and he hopes to help show others how to do the same.
FROM ALABAMA TO TEXAS
Chappell was born Jan. 23, 1984 in Birmingham, AL. Chappell said he didn’t have a father, and he got into it with some of the wrong people, which included a few gangs.
“Alabama is real bad,” Chapell recalled. “My buddy got kidnapped. They killed him. I was honestly scared.”
Chappell got away from Alabama and moved to Corsicana, where he received a scholarship to play basketball at Navarro College. He later transferred to the University of Texas at Arlington before suffering a career-ending injury.
Chappell said he got depressed. So, he attempted to fill the void through unconventional means.
“In Texas, drugs are cheap,” Chappell said. “So I started trafficking, living that lifestyle. Not having any other avenue as a black man, the easiest thing for us to do is to sell drugs. It’s right there. We can all do it, and you got people to train you.”
Chappell said his mother kept discouraging him from drug trafficking and kept pressing him to go to church. He didn’t listen, and he paid the price much later when he was arrested for drug possession.
He said his bail was set at $150,000. His mother didn’t have the money.
“It was my rock-bottom,” he recalled. “I remember praying to God, and it was like ‘God, if you get me out of here, I will go to that church my momma has been telling me about. I promise.’ I just kept begging him.”
That same week, his stepfather won a lawsuit he had been fighting for about a decade. Chappell’s freedom was bought and paid for. He was 22.
Chappell said he messed up big time, but God was watching him and leading him on the right path.
“It was like a reality check,” Chappell said. “I cried, and I thanked him for giving me the opportunity. He could have sent me to prison.”
LIFE OUT FROM BEHIND BARS
Chappell started going to church, just like he promised. He said as he went, his whole outlook on life began to change.
“I started seeing a lot different,” Chappell said. “I changed my whole philosophy. God had a purpose for me, and I had to serve it.”
But life was difficult to adjust to after Chappell left the county jail. He said he was on probation, and people didn’t want to hire him given his criminal record.
He said he couldn’t find a job because of his circumstances.
Around that time, he explained, a close friend had just been released from prison after being locked up for the better part of 10 years.
When they were discussing what they could do, he asked his friend what he was good at. He said, “cutting grass.”
That was when Chappell had the idea of starting a small landscaping company, ultimately deciding to call it “Bama’s Landscaping” after his sweet home Alabama.
“I was doing this broke, making $500 every two weeks, a single father with a one-year-old and a three-year-old,” Chappell said. “It’s sad, but it’s motivation. I was still doing this.”
One thing Chappell realized quickly was how difficult it was for many former prisoners to find employment after release. To help others and his business, he offered jobs to former inmates once they served their sentence.
Chappell has since purchased six trucks and partners with the Ellis and Navarro County probation departments to find new workers.
“I open it up,” he said. “Guys that normally can’t find jobs, I’ll hook them up with a job and give them a truck. Then they’ll pretty much create their own business.”
“The business kind of took off on me,” he chuckled.
BLOODZ OF CHRIST
Whenever he was working, Chappell said he felt like he needed to do more for his community. He said he saw many kids in the same dangerous situations as he once was.
So in 2009, he founded BOC to instill the values in the next generation that he never learned himself. The organization partners up with the Boys and Girls Club in Ennis and supports more than 100 boys from Waxahachie, Ennis, Desoto and Dallas.
“Black males with no father, it’s like a cycle,” he expressed. “And I know the only way to break the cycle because I’m supposed to be a statistic. You mold them. You teach them. You show them how to make it.”
Chappell said he started the program with six kids. Three of them are now preachers. The other three, he said, have all been to prison, but he plans to help them whenever they get out by saving a job for them at Bama’s.
“I go to poverty-stricken areas, and I lay my smack-down,” he stated. “I gather as many kids as I can get, and they just come to me like a magnet. I’m like a celebrity when it comes to kids.”
Chappell said the BOC has several activities that the kids can participate in. He said the kids could be part of a Mime Club and join in dance-offs, can compete in a chess club and make their own music from Chappell’s recording equipment.
Plus, Chappell trains their youth basketball team on Sundays at the Boys and Girls Club in Ennis.
But the extraordinary moments for Chappell involve the BOC’s outreach efforts to the community. He recalled one memory when a woman was diagnosed with cancer eight years ago, and the BOC went to the hospital to pray with her. Two weeks later, she visited one of the BOC’s dance-offs at their church and expressed her gratitude to them, saying that her own grandkids don’t see her as much as the BOC kids did.
She died two weeks later. Chappell said he was grateful that she got to spend some of her final moments with the BOC.
“They get to see this stuff,” Chappell said. “I get to teach them real-life lessons that school is not going to teach you – that not having a man in your life is not going to teach you. To see them to grow up and become ministers to the world. We fund that.”
Recently, Bama’s Landscaping won a customer video contest with Mulligan Funding, a privately owned family business in California that issues loans to small and medium-sized companies. The prize was a 60-second professional video animation produced by Mulligan Funding to be used for promotional purposes at the business’ discretion.
However, instead of the promotion, Chappell asked Mulligan if they would instead donate the money to the BOC. Chappell said Mulligan complied and gave $1,500 to the BOC, which Chappell said would last the non-profit about three months.
Chappell said he’s happy and grateful for the opportunities he’s been given to help guide these kids toward their futures.
“I’m doing something positive and feeling blessed from it,” he expressed. “We’re saving lives, man.”
If you would like to donate or learn more about the BOC, call 214-554-8358 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
By David Dunn | email@example.com
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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