Maasai Tribesmen Visit Ross

On April 16, Maasai tribesmen visited Ross School and shared aspects of their culture with grades 4 through 8 in Gandhi Hall. The presenters were Chief Joseph Ole Tipanko, president of the Maasai Good Salvage Outreach organization (Magsa-Outreach), a nonprofit focused on improving the living standards of the Maasai, and John Kilenyi Ole Parsitau, Maasai community organizer.

Lori Gately, founder of Global Prose, began the presentation by speaking about how Global Prose works to bridge global educational and cultural exchange. Lori also introduced Central Islip High School students Sammy Decade and Jeremy Ivy, an intern and student ambassador for the organization, to relate their experiences. Next, Chief Joseph and John Kilenyi spoke about their people and practices. The Maasai are one of the last and most enduring tribes of Africa. A nomadic and indigenous group, they live in the Great Rift Valley and the savannas of Kenya and Tanzania.

To share some of their culture with Ross students, Chief Joseph sang a Maasai poem for them. He also invited students to try on traditional Maasai dress and jewelry. The attire of the tribe is brightly colored, with each color conveying a different concept—white, for example, represents peace, while red symbolizes courage and blood. John taught the students hand symbols Maasai use to count to 10. At the end of the presentation, everyone got to their feet and learned the traditional “jumping dance.” Ron Hamilton, a photojournalist whose two grandchildren, Walker and Clark Hamilton, attend Ross, documented the event.