The Adumu – Kenya

7th April 2014

There is a Masai village on the edge of Amboseli National Park where daily life is probably no different than it was 100 years ago. The young male warriors clearly take great pride not only in their appearance, but also in the evident sustainability of what is a very basic farming community. I have been to this village many times and always return humbled by the collective happiness of people that ostensibly may seem to have little, but to their own less contaminated minds, have everything.

This happiness certainly manifests itself when they partake in the traditional Masai-jumping dance “the adumu“. These uncompetitive dance offs – where the warriors must jump vertically upwards from a stationary position – have been well photographed by celebrated photographers and I needed to tell as wide a story as possible. Ideally it should emphasise the improbable height the jumpers sometimes achieve, but it should also show movement, rather than simply freeze and finally, if possible, I wanted a picture that framed a sense of community happiness.

There is no such thing as correct focus – as focus is an interpretive art and the blurred feet of the jumper to the right are the aesthetic making of this image. I think this photograph conveys a great sense of place and no little soul. I took a copy of it back to Kenya in early April and they seemed to love it. But then again, they are always smiling – so you never know.

Tusk Trust employ a holistic approach to conservation and this enfranchises local Masai communities. This is absolutely right – the warriors in this village know the importance of rebuilding the elephant population and poachers would not want to face them one-on-one. They may be content and always happy, but they are also fierce protectors of their ecosystem.

View highlights from David’s assignment with a local Masai tribe in Kenya. March 2014.