FACING THE LION: Growing Up Maasai on the African Savanna

Joseph Lekuton, Author, Herman Viola, With , with Herman Viola. National Geographic $15.95 (127p) ISBN 978-0-7922-5125-5

This involving, anecdotal autobiography sketches the childhood of Lekuton, who grew up in northern Kenya, a member of a subgroup within the Maa culture known as the Ariaal. He explains that the beloved cows dictate where their nomadic "village" wanders: "If the grass runs out or the water dries up, we move. If there's better grazing land somewhere else, we move." Articulate and likable, the author easily ushers readers into his primitive yet colorful culture as he vividly describes aspects of his people's way of life. His topics range from the quotidian (the practice of drinking milk mixed with cow's blood; the youngsters' responsibility for the herd's calves; the role of the "pinching man," who metes out punishment to village children) to the momentous (the elaborate circumcision ritual that young men undergo on the path to becoming a "warrior"). Following the government's dictate that one boy in every nomadic family go to school, Lekuton attended a school run by American missionaries (and, depending on where his family was living at the time, walked up to 40 miles home at vacation time), went on to enroll in an elite boarding school in Nakuru, received a scholarship at St. Lawrence University in New York and currently teaches at a private school near Washington, D.C.—and, during school vacations, guides American visitors through his Maasai home. An intriguing portrait of a remarkable life and a culture little known to most American readers. Photos not seen by PW . Ages 12-up. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 10/27/2003
Release date: 09/01/2003
Paperback - 112 pages - 978-0-7362-3133-6
Library Binding - 127 pages - 978-0-7922-8328-7
Prebound-Sewn - 128 pages - 978-1-4176-8960-6
Paperback - 127 pages - 978-0-7922-7297-7
Prebound-Glued - 127 pages - 978-1-61383-731-3
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