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The Masai Necklace

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Masai Necklace

One of my employees, Kokonia, is a native of western Kenya. He’s been in the United States for 15 years or so. The last time he was in Kenya was ten years ago.

When he went home ten years ago I asked him to bring me back a beaded necklace from a Masai Warrior. “I don’t want the necklace he’s selling. I want the necklace from around his neck,” I told him.

Kokonia said he would try.

He returned with a gift for me. A Masai necklace. “Are these from the Masai’s neck,” I asked.

“No. It is very difficult to get such things from a Masai. They will not give them up, and they are fierce. Besides he wanted way too much money for his necklace,” he said.

When I asked how expensive. He quickly computated from Kenya Shillings to US dollars and said, “About $10 US.”

“Kokonia! I would have paid double that!”

He returned to Kenya this winter. I gave him the same directive: “Kokonia, please bring me back beads from a Masai Warrior. Not the beads he is selling, but the beads from his neck. I will pay any price.”

He returned this week and handed me my necklace.

“Kokonia, are these from the Masai’s neck,” I asked.

He held the necklace up and told me how it was made. “The animals on this necklace were handcarved by a Masai. This one is a lion. This a leopard. An elephant. Zebra. A rhino and a giraffe. Beautiful work. And, I assure you, made only by the Masai,” he said proudly.

“Was the Masai wearing it?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“Jim. The Masai are fierce. They don’t want to give up their necklaces, but they will gladly sell you others that they have made,” he explained.

“Did you ask if you could buy his necklace?”

“No. The Masai have spears. If I had asked, he would surely have chased me.”

Comments

BWG said:

Have you taken out an insurance policy on Kokonia that he doesn't know about?

Posted on Feb 05, 2006 10:52 PM

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