Through a partnership with Palo Alto College and the Carver Community Cultural Center, the Institute of Texan Cultures is bringing Nelson Lemeria Ole Ngotiek to the museum to share his knowledge of Maasai culture, music, and dance. Ngotiek is a youth leader from Narok, Kenya, where he serves as a conflict mediator and teacher in his tribal community. He is visiting Texas to share what life is like as a traditional “moran,” or Maasai warrior, in the 21st century.
The Maasai are a semi-nomadic people that live in the brush country of southern Kenya and northern Tanzania. With their traditional pastoral way of life threatened by economic and environmental change, Ngotiek travels to educate people about Maasai cultural heritage in the face of modern challenges. In the past, men his age would live in isolation in the African bush to develop the courage and endurance needed to be warriors. Instead of isolation, Ngotiek has chosen to travel and share his cultural heritage with the world. His programs throughout San Antonio this spring are part of an educational project, From Traditions to Transitions: a Maasai Community Meets the Challenges of the 21st Century.
As part of the educational project, Ngotiek is offering movement and dance workshops to museum visitors on April 10 at the institute’s dome theater on the exhibit floor. The Maasai people are known for a “jumping dance,” where men leap high into the air to show others their strength and agility as warriors. Ngotiek will also present on Maasai music, which is particularly interesting as it is usually entirely generated by the human voice and without musical instruments.
To complement Ngotiek’s workshops, excerpts from Maasai documentary films will be screened in the museum’s first floor Auditorium. Additionally, ten students from AYUSA, Academic Year in the USA, will present on the music and dance of their home countries, including Malaysia, the Netherlands, Bosnia-Hertzegovina, and Tanzania.
Visitors from 12pm-4pm can enjoy several crafts and activities focused on music-making and cultural celebration, including beaded anklets and handmade drums. Kids will be encouraged to create and wear a Cultural Ambassador Sash that celebrates their unique heritage.
To go Beyond Texan Cultures, visit the UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures on Free Second Sunday, April 10, noon to 4 p.m., or visit TexanCultures.com.