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The Worlds of a Maasai Warrior: An Autobiography

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  346 ratings  ·  33 reviews
An autobiographical memoir revealing the traditional childhood, adolescence, and coming of age in Maasailond also documents the author's life on the plains of the Serengeti and his education and experiences as he journeyed to Europe and America
Paperback, 144 pages
Published October 14th 1988 by University of California Press (first published 1985)
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Frank Stein
Feb 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing

This is an amazing autobiography by a great author who just happens to be from a nomadic African herding tribe.

It is not an anthropological work that looks at Maasai society from the outside; it is an actual report about the Maasai told by someone who actually grew up and lived among them. In fact to describe it as a report about the Maasai probably overplays the anthropological aspects of it. The author is concerned more about conveying his own life than the mores of his people, and he does it
First read August 7, 2012. 4 stars.

Saitoti's autobiography is a breezy afternoon read, and it has an endearing naive and earnest tone. It is often marketed as an introductory reading to Maasai life in Tanzania, something people ought to read before they come (was rec'd by both the handbook for my study abroad program and the Lonely Planet Guide). However, I'd question its utility for that purpose. Having read it both before and after my firsthand experience with Maasai, I can't see I got much
Kathleen Fowler
Jan 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book is an account of one man crossing the enormous chasm between the traditional Maasai way of life and contemporary Western culture. What this man accomplished is more or less time travel, because the distance that divides the world he was born into and the one he learned to navigate successfully is far more than physical distance.

Saitoti’s descriptions of his childhood and youth enable the reader to appreciate the strengths as well as the weaknesses of his native culture. It may be “
Otis Chandler
Jul 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Otis by: Elias
My safari guide gave this to me, saying the author was a friend who had lived a life similar to his own. It's a very well-written memoir style book of a man who is raised among a very proud people called the Maasai in East Africa. By modern standards they live very primitive lives: herding cattle, and living in dirt huts. But some of them are sent to school and enter the modern world, and the juxtaposition of the author's viewpoint on both worlds makes for a great read.

One interesting thing I
Quite a fascinating look at the life of the Maasai. The author describes his traditional life as a boy herder than warrior. At the age of 20 he ran away and became a park ranger, tourist guide and through his contacts eventually went to the USA where he obtained a university education.
His observations of seeing his first wheel, airplane, Western city and other things we take for granted were almost as interesting as his life, traditions, culture and gulf between the blacks and whites. At the end
Aug 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Strange and compelling. One of those books that attempts to bridge a cultural gap and in doing shows you how immense it truly is. Tepilit's narrative is well written and evocative, but essentially personal and straightforward. There is no pandering, or false humility or pride, and rarely pontificates on the greater meaning of his unique life. It just tells his story as a Maasai, not not the story of the Maasai.
Jo Hogan
Aug 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
patrick murphy
Dec 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great read before you go to Africa.

Outstanding. I read it last month before my first trip to Africa/Kenya and it added a layer of depth and understanding to my experiences there. We spend a great deal of time with the Maasai during our three weeks there and I learned so much more about their traditions and how it fits into their changing modern world. The natural intelligence and confidence many display is matched only by the dignity and genuine sense of humor that many visitors may miss .
Raquelle Banuelos
Apr 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a really easy read and Tepilit's story is remarkable. From Maasai warrior to Harvard graduate. I wish I could find more information on him to see what else he did after he goes home. It's also really insightful on how these tribal African societies and families grapple with globalism. At what point do you accept Western influence in order to keep your family together?
Dec 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A very fascinating anthropological account, especially in regards to acquiring written language and pictorial competence, though I could have done without most of the sex snippets.
Sep 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
(found read date in diary)
Jun 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I read Tepilit Ole Saitoti’s The Worlds of a Maasai Warrior because I was so impressed with several books I read on the life of pygmies. The Maasai is another proud race that is disappearing, trampled by the march of so-called civilization. How other people live in the arms of nature while I’m snug and hidden in my man-made home with my store-bought food amazes me.

Tepilit grew up on the African Serengeti, drinking milk for breakfast, herding cows all day, and feeling lucky to have food for
Jul 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is probably my top recommendation if you are looking to read a book while on safari. For one, it's not depressing, and you really get a marvelous glimpse into a world that you see whizzing by from your jeep window. The Maasai (one of our fellows on our trip likened the group to the Amish of Africa, which I thought was a pretty good metaphor) are all over Western Tanzania and Kenya. They "try" to live the same life that they lived hundreds of years ago. Homes are made out of cattle dung, ...more
Feb 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is very different in that it shows us and our outreach workers under the view of the masaai tribesman and in their culture. This person travelled all over the world. He took pride in his heritage. There was nothing "soft" about these peple as a group. They had been known for centuries as fighters and just plain people who need to be respected. The person himself had no real trouble fitting into beth cultures as need be by the situations that came up. A worth-while book information-wise, but ...more
Jul 07, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2008
Very interesting book written by someone who was raised in a traditional Maasai family on the Kenya-Tanzania border. Big herds of cattle, men with 8 wives, ritual circumcision when it's time to become a man, etc. And then with the help of a US film crew and his English skills he made it out of Africa, to Europe and the US where he went to college. Only tragedy was that the book cuts off at the end, leaving you wondering where he decided to live ultimately. Very interesting, surprisingly little ...more
Julie Peacock
Aug 31, 2008 rated it really liked it
This was a really intersting book about the Maasai people. It was even more interesting when you add the HIV/AIDS prevention that we are trying to do in there with the ABC program of Abstinence Be faithful and Condom use. This is a group of people that believe that semen from the warriors aids in the growth of prepubescent girls. Additionally they are polygamous. ABC will not work on this group of people until things change within their culture.
Mar 10, 2013 rated it liked it
An autobiography of Tepilit Ole Saitoti. His life in Tanzania as a Maasai warrior. He pursued a higher education in Europe and the United Staes. He is now involved in rural development in Kenya and Tanzania
Cathy Scott
May 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
I read this right before spending 6 months in Tanzania. I was already familiar with the culture, but I enjoyed reading this book and learning more and seeing more details into the day to day life of the Maasai. While in Tanzania, I had the honor of meeting saitoti and his family.
Eli Hinze
Decent. Gives some interesting cultural insight. Has some great, thought provoking lines, and other sentences that I had to read five times just to understand what the heck he meant.
Sep 12, 2014 rated it liked it
A fun book to read whilst on safari Tanzania. I visited a Maasai village with my famiy. I really enjoyed learning some Swahili and doing the jump dance with the Maasai!
Della Scott
Jul 22, 2012 marked it as to-read
I registered a book at!
Jun 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A very interesting read. The author provides insight into the way of the Maasai and also on how he views the western countries he visits. Both are very interesting. A very good book.
Jude Grebeldinger
Dec 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
A rare look into the life of the Maasai.
Jan 07, 2016 rated it it was ok
I found that this autobiography shared many personal facts and lacked enough reflection to make it compelling.
Johanna C.
Feb 03, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2010
I think everyone should read some books written by former tribesman. Their style is very unique...interesting. Tone is different. Which is mainly why I read them!
May 27, 2012 rated it it was ok
Very informative book, but your opinion of it depends on what you're hoping to get out of it. Definitely more of an educational read than a leisurely one.
Justine Philyaw
Jul 19, 2012 rated it liked it
A good first person narrative of the Maasai culture that served as a helpful primer for a trip to Tanzania.
Jul 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Lived near the Serengeti Plain and the Olduvai Gorge
Dec 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
An incredible autobiography!
Terry Tracz
Sep 01, 2014 rated it liked it
Interesting insight into Maasai culture.
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