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Pole to Pole

Day 88: Marsabit to Shaba

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleWe are now entering the land of the Samburu, or 'Butterfly' tribe. They are a branch of the Ma people, of whom the best known are the Masai, who many years ago split from the Samburu and went south. The Samburu remain, like the Rendille and the Borena in southern Ethiopia, a colourful, un-Westernized tribe still practising male and female circumcision. They love dress and display, especially favouring ear ornaments - rings in top and bottom and lobes pierced then stretched into holes an inch wide.

I have fond memories of filming The Missionary in Samburu territory - at the village of Lerata. We built a mud-and-wattle chapel, complete with stained glass windows, in which I played 'From Greenland's Icy Mountain', which the local children specially learnt for the occasion. Our construction crew put a new roof on the schoolroom, and I wanted to return and see if it had survived and what, if anything, they remembered of us.

It is baking hot again - 112 degrees in the sun - as we reach the village. The schoolchildren, neatly turned out in gold and blue uniforms, have obviously been told to expect a celebrity, and as soon as we stop they crowd around Wendy, chanting, smiling and clapping. When eventually they are pointed in my direction they are confused and cannot whip up quite the same degree of enthusiasm. But Henry the teacher is still there and so is the schoolroom roof, and beneath it I tell the children about the journey I am doing with the aid of the inflatable globe that stood me in such good stead on Around the World in 80 Days. At the end I donate the globe to Lerata School, which they all seem to think is wonderful and proceed to play football with it.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 88
  • Country/sea: Kenya
  • Place: Lerata
  • Book page no: 198

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