The White Masai

Posted on: April 29, 2012

Spoiler Alert: I’m going to talk about the book, The White Masai (by Corinne Hofmann), and how it ends. Read ahead at your own risk.

I had picked up ‘The White Masai‘ after hearing about it on a trip to Kenya. I didn’t know much about it except for that it was a true story about a Swiss woman who fell in love with a Masai warrior and moved to Kenya to be with him (in the late 1980s). I’ve had the book on loan from the library for more than a month. I kept renewing it because I wasn’t in the mood to read a love story about two cultures and how they made it work against all odds and I didn’t want to feel worse about not being able to make my own intercultural relationships work and blah blah blah.

I started reading while I sat at the Toyota dealer on Saturday and didn’t super enjoy the first half. It was a good book, but I think there was just so much of her life that could’ve been explored more, although I guess they couldn’t make it a 1000 pages. Anyway, she met the warrior while she was on vacation with her then boyfriend and felt this instant connection for the Masai. SO MUCH THAT SHE LEFT HER LIFE IN SWITZERLAND.  FOR A GUY. THAT SHE KNEW FOR A FEW DAYS. AND COULDN’T TALK TO BECAUSE NEITHER SPOKE ENGLISH! (They communicated through broken English and signs.)

Most people probably read that and thought ‘how romantic’ – I, jaded and bitter, read that and thought “how insane is this woman?” So to recap the first few chapters: they don’t speak the same language, they don’t really know each other and she abandoned her life to move to the bush to be with him. Except first she had to find him as he’d left Mombasa, so she searched for him in Kenya for THREE FUCKING MONTHS.   Seriously, at no point did she think she should just go home?!?!?

She found him and lived the life of Masai wife – no electricity, no running water, the only muzungu for miles and miles. They lived off her earnings. She had hepatitis and malaria, both while pregnant.  They barely had any money, but she started a few businesses. Then he started getting suspicious of her, thinking she was unfaithful, thinking she was lying all the time, telling her to ask her family for more and more money so they could live.

By the time I got to this point of the story, I was so curious to see what she did… how could she live with someone who didn’t ever trust her? Who thought it was ok to circumcise their baby girl (they didn’t though)? Who thought it was ok to have multiple wives? Whose life was so different from hers, even though they lived in the same hut?

I was sitting in my car, parked in front of the library, car off because I thought I’d skim the last few chapters in a few minutes. Don’t ask why I didn’t just go in – I’m a dummy. So with sweat running down my neck, door open for a breeze, I actually read the rest of the book — SHE LEFT HIM! SHE TOOK THE BABY BACK TO SWITZERLAND AND LEFT HIM!!!

Which, let’s face it, was the best decision possible but that’s not the ending I was expecting. I thought I’d be reading about how they were raising multiple children in the bush, all happy and together. Nope. Totally not. And to clarify a bit – she basically abducted her daughter. She told him she was going for a 3 week vacation knowing full well she was never coming back.

From what I looked up online, there are 2 sequel books, and she has since taken her daughter back to Kenya and she (the daughter) has a good relationship with her father and his family, which is great. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to read the books though, because for some reason they’re in the ‘Reference’ section at the library. Which… why? Why can I check out the first one, but not the others? Weird.

Anyway, she didn’t regret what she did, which is amazing. She holds nothing but fond memories of him and her life there.

I don’t think it’s possible to question someone else’s love or their story – unless you can feel exactly what they feel, there’s no way to say it wasn’t legitimate. But having said that, it did seem to me that it was LUST that drove her fucking crazy, not necessarily love. She hadn’t really talked to him, she just knew she wanted to be with him.  That’s not a bad thing at all – but she left everything, including her livelihood, to hunt him down to be with him? With no idea of what it would be like?  With no guarantee that he wouldn’t have moved on with someone else?

Just… What.The.Fuck.

(update: Found this post just now and the comments sum up pretty much how I feel too!)


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