Maasai Warriors visit The London Eye
10 Apr 2008
London, 10 April 2008
Six Maasai Warriors from Northern Tanzania will visit today the London Eye as part of a tour of London ahead of taking part in Sunday's Flora London Marathon.
The determined Maasai Warriors, who arrived in the United Kingdom on the 4 April 2008, will run the marathon wearing their traditional clothing, beaded jewellery and shoes made from car tyres*. They will carry their sticks and shields, and chant Maasai songs as they go. The Maasai have a natural aptitude for running, but despite this, the young warriors have spent much of the last few months training on the African savannah for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Years of drought in Northern Tanzania, combined with the effects of climate-change, deforestation and over-grazing, mean the Maasai's traditional way of life is increasingly under threat. Children, adults and animals are often forced to drink contaminated water and their village, Elaui, is constantly victim to disease, famine and drought. As a result of this, two out of every three children born in the village die before the age of five. The proud Maasai see the marathon not only as a way to raise money, but also awareness for the plight of their village, and the traditions that they so strongly value.
Isaya, the Maasai warrior who is leading the tribe's marathon attempt, explains: "Our elders told us that we can do it because we have been running all over for killing a lion and herding cattle. We can help them by getting them clean water so right now all of us are training very hard because we want to do it to make life easier for the Maasai people."
Dave Bedford, Race Director of Flora London Marathon, strongly supports the scheme: "The Flora London Marathon is an excellent platform for any charity, and we're delighted to be able to offer our assistance to these Maasai runners to raise money for their village. Water is something we all take for granted, and it will be great to see two different cultures coming together on this sporting occasion for this worthy cause; we are 100% behind this."