Miscellaneous Ramblings by Tony Clegg-Butt of Travel News

Posted on July 2nd, 2012
Categories: News

The debate rumbles on

In days of yore when we printed this little ditty, we had a very lively discussion about the correct spelling of the place name – Masai Mara National Reserve, more accurately the word Masai. A lot of people tend to spell it with a AA – Maasai, in line with the spelling of the tribe of the same name. The language is after all Maa. It was agreed pretty conclusively by scholars and laymen alike, that the correct spelling was that of the tribe name.

The fault, if you can call it that, lay in our colonial past – where it was gazetted as a place name with a single A. An oversight surely, but perhaps not necessarily so. In the article in this issue, Meet David Read, we learn of a man who grew up among the Masai from a very young age and should know if anybody really knows. He insists on spelling it with a single A in all of his books, as that is the way it is, end of story, according to David.

There is a school of thought that the AA spelling came from our frightfully frightfully colonial past, who after all called the port city of Mombasa, Mom’baah’sa (some still do). So Masai became Maah’sai.

I know that all of this might not be terribly interesting, just a bit of even more useless information to share with your bored dinner guests.

On a similar note, Serena Hotels & Lodges did spades of research to determine what the correct spelling for their new luxury camp in Soysambu was. Was it Elmentaita, or the more commonly spelt Elementaita. Here is another Masai word spelt incorrectly, for the research concluded that the correct spelling was Elmentaita. Maybe per the previous Maah’sai and Mom’baah’sa scenarios, to the high and the haughty, it became El’aah’mentaita.

Now you know

I was in Mombasa last weekend, when I received over breakfast an SMS from a local newspaper telling me that foreign governments were ordering their citizens to abandon the town, due to an imminent terrorist attack.

So what did that do to a morning full of appointments?

It was actually quite simple. A colleague encouraged me that as we were not foreign we wouldn’t be at risk and that all should be OK. Sound advice, I don’t think, but encouragement nonetheless.

The appointments were kept without a worry, followed by lunch at the Tamarind, just reward for our high-risk adventure.

But the strange thing was that I didn’t see anywhere a heightened state of security, not even at the airport when I departed. We all know a hand grenade was detonated in a far-flung suburb the following evening while fans watched the England vs. Italy Euro quarter-final.

I mourn the loss of three innocent lives that this caused.

There is now an aura of ‘I told you so’ – which really gets up my nose.

My question is really – if foreign governments know so much, and I’m sure they do, why do they only hand out just enough information as to put the fear of God into the population, instead of dealing with the miscreants who intend to disrupt our peaceful country. Not going into Mombasa would have been a victory for the terrorists, and I’m happy that we recorded the victory and survived to tell the tale.

What a victory celebration we had at the Tamarind, the best seafood in the world washed down by copious Dawas – aaah, to be in Kenya!

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