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The White Masai - Corinne Hofmann

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Genre: Travel / Author: Corinne Hofmann / Edition: New edition / Paperback / 320 Pages / Book is published 2007-09-04 by Arcadia Books

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    4 Reviews
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      20.06.2010 01:26
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      A great book to read for an insight into true African life

      I bought 'The White Masai' because of my interest in African culture, and having read a brief synopsis of this book, I realsied that this book was based around a woman and her journey to Kenya.

      *NOTE*
      This is a true story, written by Corrine Hofmann, who on a holiday to Kenya with her boyfriend fell in love with a Masai Warrior. It is written in story form, and it is easy to forget that this is real life, but try and remember that this did really happen, as it gives the story another dimension, and makes it an even more interesting read!

      SYNOPSIS:
      Corrine Hofmann went on holiday to Kenya with her boyfriend, only to have her life turned upside down. She fell in love with a Masai warrior, and moved to Kenya to live in a small hut with him.
      They face man obstacles together, but stay deeply in love, and the story follows how Corrine and Lketinga learn about each others way of life and learn how to live with each other the best way they can.

      MAIN CHARACTERS:
      Corrine: The author of the book, who moves out to Kenya
      Lketinga: The Masai warrior that Corrine falls in love with
      Mama: Lketinga's mother, who Corrine and Lketinga live with for a while

      WORTH THE READ?
      Definitely! I picked this up the first time, and read it in two goes; and I only had two goes as I had to sleep! If i could have stayed up all night reading this I would have. I have since re-read it twice, and am hoping to study it as one of my A-level texts. I recommend this to ANYONE!

      (Also posted on Ciao under the same username)

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        02.07.2009 11:05
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        An interesting thought provoking read

        The White Masai really appealed to me as I live in Africa and could relate to parts of the story. I could not wait to read it.

        The book is a non-fictional account of a young Swiss lady, Corinne Hofmann, who initially goes on holiday to Mombasa, Kenya, with her boyfriend. She befriends a Masai and falls head over heals in love. Her story develops into her eventually staying in Africa living in a Masai village in the middle of the African bush. They do get married and have a baby daughter.

        I found the book extremely addictive. It was hard to put down, partly due to the fact that I could not believe the risk the author was putting herself and her daughter in. I was dumbfounded that anyone would choose to live in the middle of nowhere, where no one spoke English, and life was about literally trying to survive. Contracting malaria and other illness's was a huge possibility. Medical facilities were miles and miles away.

        I think anyone who does what Corinne Hofmann did 'for love' needs to question their relationship. Life is too short, especially to put yourself through such hardship for 4 years. It is easy for me to say in hindsight though!

        I did enjoy reading the book, as it was well written and her story is an extraordinary adventure. So much so, that I went and bought "Reunion in Barsaloi" by Corinne Hofmann.

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        06.06.2009 23:22
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        an excellent page turner with lots of information packed in to boot

        The White Masai is the riviting story of a woman that found love in one of the most bizarre and unexpected places a person could fall in love and with a man she hadn't even spoken too. Corrine Hofmann tells the tale of her romance and marriage to Lketinga, the sandbur warrior with whom she fell in love with at first sight aboard the Likoni ferry with her then boyfriend, whilst on holiday in Mombasa.

        This was in the 1980's and with setting just a single glance at this man decided that this was the love of her life and he was worth giving up everything, including her shop in Switzerland to be with him. Unfortunately the course of true love never does run smoothly especially when the cultures are so hugely different and they speak different languages, Hofmann being Swiss and Lketinga speaking Maa the tribal language used by samburu and masai tribes alike. For her love of this man she leaves everything she knows to find him in the vain hope that he feels the same, after 3 month and eventually finding 'her darling', they are soon married and living in his extreme culture soon starts to create a rocky road ahead. In samburu marriages there is no affection, a wife may not even touch her husbands face let alone kiss on the lips, and they must always eat apart, all the simple things that us westerners take for granted as part of a relationship, as did Hofmann.

        However, brave and determined she accepted these differences to be with 'her darling' and did her best to fit into his and his families way of life, living in manyattas (mobile huts made of wood and cow dung) and narrowly escaping death after severe bouts of malaria and extreme malnourishment. After being married and having their daughter Napirai, the relationship turned sour when Lketinga became increasingly jealous and accusing her of having other boyfriends and in fits of rage claiming that his daughter was not even his. Fuelling these unjust accusations was his increasing love of mirraa (an amphetamine type plant that is chewed) and beer, it became too much and Hofmann hatched a plan to escape. Leaving the country was not simple when in Africa the child is the property of the father, but eventually after 4 years in Africa Hofmann arrives back home to Switzerland and has written two books since, Back from Africa and Reunion in Barsaloi.


        I have read this book twice now and I have to say its a favourite of mine, I truly felt that she brings you right in and by the end you almost feel like you were there living with them and you know each and every member of the family like your own. Its extraordinary writing and the book is packed with information as to the samburu way of life, which is still very much private. She shockingly tells about witnessing a female circumcision, a rite of passage for the girls as young as 12 that are married to sometimes much older men as their 2nd or 3rd wives. For women within this tribe they are worth less than cattle and know as much, and in my opinion a 'mzungu'(white) westerner would find this almost impossible to live with, since in the western world we are all treated as equals. The women of Barsaloi are property of the men and that is all, they live and breathe to serve them and to produce many many children for their husbands. The culture is full of rituals and acts of hospitality which are in fact quite endearing and in that way I can see how she could have been taken in and felt a false sense of security.

        Throughout the story I found myself asking 'what would I have done in that situation' and after I put it down I would often find my thoughts returning to Hofmann and itching to know what in fact she actually did do. So I finished the book both times in a record time of two days! I did find parts of the book confusing and frustrating, sat reading the book you can clearly see a disaster waiting to happen and it takes alot to try not to yell out to her to stop being so stupid and naive, but I think that's the charm of Hofmann, she didn't have the advantage of hindsight and was in way over her head but too blinded by love for her warrior. The dangers she puts herself in are unbelievable and this is where I myself got frustrated, she would call Lketinga 'crazy' after he accused her of being with another man. That's fair enough we think? But Hofmann lived in a culture where a woman never ever raises her voice to a man, in some villages violence towards women within the samburu is even encouraged. All quite hair raising reading as a woman myself but she makes it very easy to empathise with her and her determination to be with the man she loved is admirable if not completely insane.

        I have read other reviews and people say they are not sure what to make of it all and that she was stupid and naive and that makes the book hard to take seriously, and I can see their point. But after reading this book a second time something else crossed my mind and I'm not sure if I'm right or wrong but I am beginning to see this not for the love affair it was meant to be, at least not on Lketinga's part. I find it hard to believe that a man as a samburu warrior was willing to change the way he was and has known of men to behave and what is expected of a wife through hundreds of years of tradition, to take on a white woman that has a voice and opinions. Unless he knew full well that being white and being on holiday in a plush hotel, she probably had money and would make him rich. Hofmann never learnt his Maa language, and so I wonder if perhaps it wasn't all as innocent as it seems within his family to take on this opinionated, head strong, sickly white woman? Maybe the love affair was sadly all on her part? Either way its a great book but since thinking this is probably the case I have lost a certain feeling that us girlies get hearing about love stories and all that mushy stuff, still an absolute must read though even as an insight to this fascinating group of people.

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          08.02.2009 21:52
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          Worth reading

          On holiday in Kenya with her boyfriend Corrine Hofmann first saw the Masai man who was to become her husband. It was love at first sight! She knew it was her destiny! She just had to have him! On returning home to Switzerland she waste no time in ditching her business, boyfriend and old life to return to Africa and find find her fairytale 'happy ever after'. Her story is fascinating and her the insights into Masai culture make for a really interesting read but I did spend quite a lot of time growling in irritation and must admit I found it really hard to like her or empathise with her. Innocent and endearing or overly melodramatic and a teensy bit selfish? I'm still not sure, maybe a bit of all!

          The woman had conviction and spirit, there's no doubt about that. She saw what she wanted and went out to get it, giving up the comforts of her western life to follow her heart and find the life she wanted. That's something to admire, and her story really is a fascinating one. However, it is sometimes impossible to find her naivety anything but annoying - her innocent conviction that the fascination she feels for 'her' Masai, as she describes him from the start is more important than anything else; her seemigly callous treatment of her boyfriend, who must have found himself in a pretty awful situation as she dragged him around for half of their holiday in pursuit of Lketinga, 'her' Masai; her total lack preperation to fit herself into a new culture and her reliance on the help of some very generous friends to get her out of some difficult situtions (often caused by her own lack of forethought).

          An example; she has some sickness fairly early on in the book and Lketinga suggests that she might be pregnant. She rejects the idea because she is on the pill and I just gawped at her stupidity; she makes reference later in the book to the fact that AIDS was a danger that she was aware of and even worried about so what on earth was she doing having unprotected sex with a man she barely knew at this point? There are so many examples of her recklessness throughout the book - walking out of a hospital in Nairobi, delirious with Malaria, and driving for several hours before collapsing and ending up in a much more remote hospital, close to death - driving alone alone a dangerous 'shortcut' to the remote Masai settlement where she now lived. Her attempts to fit in with her husbands people are often marred by her distaste for the dirt, the smells of animals, the crowded conditions.

          On the other hand she does try, she really does, and she acts throughout with complete conviction. As an outsider learnig about a whole new culture she gives some fascinating insights and she definately knows how to tell a story. There are moments of real drama and excitement and I did find it pretty compulsive reading, racing through the book in just a couple of days. I may even try the sequel...

          In the end, however silly, however misguided I thought her at times I love the fact that she followed her heart and went in search of her dream rather than returning to safe boredom. There's something to admire and something to be learned from her, and her story was well worth reading for the wonderful insights into a culture so alien to me.

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