November 18, 2017
Arts & Entertainment
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  • In late October, six members of the Maasai tribe from Kenya came to Maryland to perform at Anne Arundel Community College, Severn School and Chartwell.
    In late October, six members of the Maasai tribe from Kenya came to Maryland to perform at Anne Arundel Community College, Severn School and Chartwell.
  • In late October, six members of the Maasai tribe from Kenya came to Maryland to perform at Anne Arundel Community College, Severn School and Chartwell.
    In late October, six members of the Maasai tribe from Kenya came to Maryland to perform at Anne Arundel Community College, Severn School and Chartwell.

World Artists Experiences Brings Maasai Tribe To Severna Park

Judy Tacyn
Judy Tacyn's picture
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November 3, 2017

It started as an experiment 14 years ago by Arnold resident Betty McGinnis. In an effort to celebrate the creativity of worldwide cultures, showcase the arts and build bridges of understanding among people, McGinnis formed World Artists Experiences (WAE).

“Mexico and Brazil were the first countries we worked with, and from there, it really caught on worldwide,” said McGinnis.

The vision of this Arnold-based arts organization is to create a “world where citizens open dialogues, establish friendships and build fruitful partnerships that foster mutual understanding, respect, trust, and peace among the people and cultures of our world.”

Through partnerships with embassies, ministries of culture and education, and local U.S. organizations, WAE specializes in bringing international acts to Maryland for the enrichment, education and entertainment of local residents.

“We try to bring at least one country from each continent to the U.S. every year,” said McGinnis. “I believe we need to build bridges in our world to avoid misunderstandings. We invite groups with a focus on sustainable development and education enrichment in their communities, where there is the most need.”

Once an invitation has been extended and accepted, McGinnis said it’s up to the country to determine what they want to showcase in their stage productions.

In late October, six members of the Maasai tribe from Kenya came to Maryland to perform at places around Severna Park, including Anne Arundel Community College, Severn School and Chartwell.

Along with their performances of tribal dance in spectacularly colored native dress, the members sold their intricate native jewelry as a means to raise $50,000 to fund water drilling projects for their community back home.

“We are very blessed to have this opportunity to come to the United States to share our dancers, singers and storytellers,” said Joseph Olesunguyia, a spokesperson for the Maasai group and one of the performers. “We love to share our culture and to learn more about America. We are also raising money for water projects and education in Maasai.”

This is Olesunguyia’s second tour in the U.S. He spoke candidly about the need for new water wells in the vast Maasai region in southern Kenya.

“The situation is very dire,” he said. “We have not had rain in two years. People have to walk many miles to find water. The people and animals are suffering.”

Water wells in Maasai often must be dug very deep (180 to 200 feet). A geological survey is done to determine which area will be drilled and to find an adequate underground water source. Once a location is determined, and materials are ordered and delivered, the building of the well may take two to three weeks. Some areas are so remote that it may take weeks or even months for supplies to arrive to a drill site.

Olesunguyia said each well can cost up to $32,000, which is why the performances in the United States are so important. Travel is paid for by embassies and by donations. Performers stay with host families.

As for his experience in Maryland, Olesunguyia was appreciative of the hospitality he and his group received. The only challenges? Food and weather.

“We used a lot of blankets,” said Olesunguyia, “and Americans like their food very spicy! But everything was very beautiful and we could not be happier.”

For more information about the World Artists Experiences, learn of upcoming performances, or to make a donation, visit www.worldartists.org.


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