If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
- African Proverb
I still fondly remember visiting a Maasai home near Samburu village in Kenya a number of decades ago. After setting up camp for the evening, I searched for an interesting place to sketch and ended up at the village watering hole. Women came and went, filling their jugs with water to carry home for cooking and washing.
While there, I offered help to a mom with a baby on her back. How quickly I learned that transporting a jug of water strapped from the head is much more difficult than it looks. We walked roughly 500 meters toward her home, with an ever growing trail of children following us. Looking back, I’m sure she could have done it much faster without me, while also carrying her baby.
Maasai women and children spend hours gathering fire wood and collecting clean water. When the watering hole is far from home, nestled deep in the African savanna, it is safer for women to travel together in a group: an added protection from wild animals like ostriches, water buffalo and lions. However, if a water pump is nearby, women collect the water much faster when going alone.
I finally did reach her home, a loaf shaped, mud hut consisting of three rooms: foyer, kitchen, and bedroom. She kindly invited me in for a cup of coffee which we drank seated on a log next to the cooking fire, surrounded by stained black walls smelling of smoke. It was a special afternoon I shall never forget.