eNKaNg' aNg'

(In Maasai :'Our Home')

An immersive experience within a maasai enkang' (homestead)

How do we learn from our traditions

and re-imagine our future?

An audio-visual documentation of the rich Maasai heritage with stories from Maasai women, and a boundless future.

Project Details 🛖
What can we learn from our traditions?

The Maasai people are one of the few tribes in Kenya that until now, maintain more of their traditional culture and way of life.

They are mainly pastoralists with large herds of cattle.

They originally have a nomadic way of life; and many places in Kenya have their names from Maasai origin eg ‘Nairobi’ comes from the Maa word ‘Narobi’ meaning ‘cold’ (cold waters)

Due to effects of colonization, and climate change, the Maasai way of life has changed with time and most of them are now in settled homesteads and practice agriculture too.

We wanted to find out more about their way of life by engaging some of the women from Twala Tenebo women village in a series of conversations about the following topics :

-The history and design of the Enkaji (the Maasai huts)

-The Maasai culture; what’s their experience and takes?

-Maasai diet, methods of cooking, food & kitchen rituals

-Maasai accessories - beaded jewellery & dresses

-Climate change & permaculture

To have a limitless future, we must learn from our past traditions. This is what the performance art piece portrays. We were empowered with the knowledge gained from these conversations & experiences to create art that is boundless, and enriched with our ancestral wisdom.

We collected sounds within the manyatta; including the birds chirping, milking cows, women chatting and singing ….

We also 3d scanned the manyattas, objects around the space, the village women and the performers.

These assets were used to create an immersive interactive experience that can be experienced in VR.

(click for more information)

Coming up...

Exhibition Opening at Cedar Mall, Nanyuki 18th Nov 2023

Enkang' Ang' exhibition is coming up!

Location: Cedar Mall, Nanyuki

Opening: 18th November 2023, 3-9pm EAT

Ongoing until the 24th December 2023

Visitors will experience Enkang’ang’ through virtual reality, photographs, videos and wearable costumes


This exhibition is supported by the British Council, East Africa Arts under The Braid Fund with T.I.C.A.H.

Design Manchester 2022

Visitors experienced Enkang’ang’ through virtual reality, photographs, videos and wearable costumes; for three days during the DM22 pop-up festival, from 23-25 November. The exhibition stayed in place until the end of the year and was viewable on weekdays.

I also presented Enkang’ang’ at the DM22 Legacy Conference at Manchester School of Art on 23 November.

This exhibition and trip was supported by the British Council, East Africa Arts.

Check out this blogpost feature from Nairobi Design website.

Nairobi Design Week 2022

The theme was 'Where We Live'; an exchange of information that connects our senses and environments.

The festival was a two day expression (and two week exhibition) of the community's minds, bodies, neighbourhoods, global, and online spaces, that took place in April.


Here are some images from the festival.

The maasai Enkaji is a sight to behold

Rounded rectangular structures with flat-topped roof. The walls are made of twigs held together with cow-dung. It stands out as an eco-friendly minimalist building.

'You see, for a woman sitting under a tree, you watch the way the birds make their nests. And then you ask yourself, if a bird can use its beak to make a nest, why can’t I with both hands not build one?

The first woman must have learned from the birds and challenging herself by going to cut poles, sharpening, and making a house.'

Joyce Mamai (60 y/o)


The Maasai women build the homes, and hence, each house takes the height of the woman.

The cowdung cools the temperature and also acts as a natural insecticide.

The Enkang’ is the homestead, which has huts arranged in a circle around a cattle kraal.

A hut is called 'Enkaji'


The huts are aerodynamically designed to resist high winds, and the thicket boundary acts as a defensive barrier.

🛖 History of the Enkaji
Stories from Grandma Joyce Mamai were fascinating...

'These are the houses we Maasais have had since we were young. When you build your house, you plaster with cow dung, then raise the bed. Before we didn’t have beds. We slept on a cow hide on the floor.

Then it came a time when we knew how to make the beds. We kept asking ourselves why should we sleep on the floor? We then decided to cut poles, fix them on the ground, plastered the bed the same way we plaster the house then put a cow hide on top and the house became nice.

We also made a fireplace using three stones which was used for cooking food. And with a cooking pot, we could cook anything even ugali. We also milked our cows and drank milk. You collect the milk in a gourd and either drink it or use it for cooking food such as kiteke.(maize flour)

Before we did not have cooking pots, we only had gourds and cow hide. We didn’t boil milk. For cups, we used some lids that we made from cow hide. But currently we have both cooking pots and cups because we discovered about them.

We used our gourds to fetch water. I used the animal’s hide to make something similar to a cooking pot which we used as basins. We used a certain tree called Osarai to make soap. We even used urine from cows to wash our hands.

'

During a ceremony when a cow is slaughtered, there is meat for old men, morans, boys, women and girls.

There is meat cooked in the forest by morans and those cooked at home by women.

The neck is for boys, backbone for girls, and leg parts for men. The rest of the animal part is cooked and shared equally among people at the ceremony.'