Many years ago, in the late 1980’s, we took a family safari in Kenya with several Canadian friends from northern Quebec, who had never been to Africa before. They were enthralled by the differences between the African wilderness and the northern Canadian pine forests , where they camped for long periods during moose hunting season. As we drove to the safari lodge, our vehicle hit a large pothole in the middle of the dirt road, causing the front tire to burst. Needless to say, the spare wheel had also been left unrepaired from its last use. Hence, our driver headed off to the nearest safari camp to get help, while we waited in the vehicle.
A few moments later, we were joined by a tall, young Masai man, dressed in a dusty, orange loincloth, holding a long spear. He must have been around twenty years old. He pressed his face against the closed window as he stared curiously at each one of us and our belongings. A few moments later, our two-year old daughter squeezed her squeaky toy, making a shrill sound that alarmed the young man. He stepped back and clutched on his spear. In the meantime, our Canadian friend Bill, had pulled out a long, metal crowbar from under the drivers seat. “What are you doing, Bill?” I whispered with alarm. “This is our equalizer”, he replied. He considered the Masai dangerous, as he had heard rumours of tourists being speared for photographing them without permission. “Put it away immediately”, I insisted. “This guy is so fast, you won’t even know what hit you…!”
To defuse the situation, I got out of the vehicle and walked over to the young man, who appeared very agitated. I smiled warmly and greeted him in Swahili, offering my hand in friendship. He responded by shaking my hand and calmed down, as he realized I meant no harm. I asked him if he had enjoyed looking at everything in the vehicle and he nodded with a smile. Even though he was so tall and strong, I recognized he was as innocent as a child. I placed my hand on his shoulder and asked what time he had left home that morning? Before sunrise, he replied. “Don’t you think your parents would be worried about you by now?” I asked. He nodded affirmatively. “Maybe you should head home and tell them you are okay.” I suggested. He agreed and darted off into the tall, yellow Savannah grassland…
“What did you say to him to make him run off so fast?” Bill enquired. I laughed and replied, “I simply suggested it was time to go home…”.
My dear friends, love and absence of fear enables us to communicate with our fellow beings at the most peaceful level of the human spirit. We all share a beautiful common essence that binds us together. Why not draw upon this strength rather than succumb to fear and use of force, which are seldom of any help...?