“The Last Maasai Warriors” teen book club

Reading

Today is our January book club and we are in Africa on our trip around the world. “The Last Maasai Warriors” is a startling yet simple account of two boys’ lives as they navigate the changing world around them, as they transition from herding nomads to educated leaders.

I’m constantly taken aback that these men are nearly my age. That Victorian-age explorers found tribes of people with ancient and very different lifestyles seems obvious; that there are humans my age who had never seen even a car is something I am dazzled and delighted by. We read so much about the pervasive nature of globalization and how there’s a McDonalds everywhere. But not everywhere, not really.

The strength of this narrative is the boys’ ability to negotiate the traditional and the new. Their dedication to finding solutions for their people while respecting and participating in the traditions and ceremonies demonstrates a wisdom and steadiness that I find admirable.

Admirable. Steady. Calm. Wise. These are the words I’d use to describe the authors.

Fascinating. Educational. Readable. Those are the words I’d use for the book.

Here are the discussion questions I plan to use:

Start by explaining we are going to cut our hands and not flinch as a method of cultural understanding…just kidding.

What was your favourite part of the book?

Was there anything frustrating about the book?

Maasai don’t know their ages. About 15 years belong together in a generation. Can you imagine your life like this? What would be different about your life if you didn’t know your age or your friends’ ages? Is homeschooling a little like this in terms of grade levels?

Why does age matter?

If you could be reincarnated, would you want to be reincarnated as a Maasai?

What do you like better about their society or lives? What do you like better about yours?

What did you think of the section where Jackson follows the mamas and gets a sense of their lives? Is that something that would make sense in our culture? (Even in households where both women and men work full time, women do more childcare and housework – often called The Second Shift)

What do you think would be the strangest thing for them when they came to Canada? (other than the weather!)

If you could wave a magic wand and fix one problem facing the Maasai, what would it be? (And do you have any idea what the solution would be?)

Wangari Maathai – Kenyan woman to win Nobel Peace Prize for tree planting – video Taking Root video This is a 3 min video about Wangari Maathai (winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Kenyan woman, tree planting radical), and it makes me want to see the whole 80 minute show.

Book begins: “The world is full of heroes.” What is a hero? Are these men heroes? Who are your favourite heroes – real and fictional? What would transform you into a hero – what situation do you see yourself rising to meet?

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