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Maasai Cricket Warriors

Story by Enigma Images September 21st, 2016

Last year I got the opportunity to be one of the photographers selected to shoot for the Safaricom 2015 calendar. For ten days, we traversed Kenya looking for unexpected things because our theme this time was ‘Unexpected Kenya’.

On Day 3, I came across a group of guys who just warmed my heart. We had just come from the vast hot and dry expanse of Samburu when we were told to go to a place called Doldol to find this group of Maasai who play cricket! We woke up early the next day and drove off in our faithful Land Cruiser with directions given by some guy…SOME GUY! (I don’t know why we didn’t think that was stupid)

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THREE HOURS LATER (because we lost our way) we met up with Benjamin and his friends and he directed us to the site of their stadium, Il Polei. We got to Il Polei as the rest of the cricketers finished changing and were setting up the artificial turf.)

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We got to talking and they were curious over what I wanted from them, image-wise. I just told them to do what they do best! So they got ready.

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Then they begun doing their warm-up exercises. It was so funny to see these tough sinewy guys bend and stretch so as to not ‘hurt’ themselves.

Abit of background, these moran’s (warriors) were taught cricket by a South African lady named Aliya Bauer in 2007. Since then, their team has grown to 24 people and the warriors use the sport to promote healthy living within their community, and spreading awareness about HIV/AIDS and female genital mutilation (FGM).

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Teams being formed by their captain
And the game begun!


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By this point, I begun ‘feeling’ the shot coming…I had gotten used to the hot sun, I had gotten a ‘feel’ for the game, the guys were no longer acting for me - their concentration and desire to win was sincere. So when I saw one of them take a stand at the wicket and lift his bat, I knew that was where my final ‘hero’ shot would be. I just didn’t know what it would look like, yet.

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It was a very hot and bright day. We had lost precious hours getting lost so with the sun directly overhead, I knew I would need to ‘strobe’ the shot in order to add drama to it. Now, unlike some of the other photographers who were also contributing images, I didn’t have very powerful flashes that could easily overpower sunlight. I shoot documentary work in weird, far off places so my kit has to be small enough to fit it all in a back pack. I recruited both my blogger and driver to hold both my flashes and point them at the team captain. First I thought this was the image…

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But it didn’t sit well with me, so I tried this next one…

And I honestly thought this was the hero image…though a part of me felt like it was too ‘nice’ an image. Felt abit ‘touristy’.

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Before I show you the final image, we finished our cricket shoot and the guys showed me a huge rock where they used to play as kids and asked if we wanted to go there and take afew shots. I had my main image so I didnt mind.

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We hang out for an hour and they told me their dreams and plans. I was surprised to find out that some of them were already in university and technical colleges.

Finally we took them back and said our goodbyes

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Oh, before I forget, this was my hero image. It made it to the calendar for the month of August…plus all the smaller calendar printouts I see in Safaricom dealer stalls.

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Footnote: Nikon D7100 and D610; Nikkor 80-200 2.8, 35 2.8 and 14-24 2.8
Dol Dol, Laikipia, Kenya