With their traditional dress, which is a part of their daily lives, and with dances and singing - even inside the church - the Maasai natives of Kenya welcomed the Patriarch of Alexandria Theodore II yesterday, in the region of Ewaso, some 30 kilometers away from Nairobi.
This was the first visit by an Alexandrian Primate to the Maasai in Kenya - in this land where there are five Orthodox parishes - four of which are situated at the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro.
It is a fact that the Orthodox Maasai preserve their customs and traditions. This was encouraged by the Alexandrian Primate, Patriarch Theodore also, when he met them at their village:
"You must remember that you should hold onto your traditions, your morals and your customs."
Then, on addressing the younger generation, he did not omit to stress that "these youngsters are the future of their homeland, and Orthodoxy is also expecting just as much from them."
It is worth mentioning that the Orthodox Church in that region is at the side of the Maasai who have embraced Christianity over the past 30 years at least, and this, thanks to the efforts of the local Metropolitan, fr. Makarios, whom the Patriarch of Alexandria Theodore yesterday thanked publicly for his opus.
Among the initiatives of the Hierarch was the translation of the Divine Liturgy -but also all the other services- into the Maasai language so that they will be able to practice their faith in their own tongue; also the supply of scholarships, and the creation of a school and a medical centre.
There are even several young Maasai who attend lessons at the Patriarchal Ecclesiastic School "Archbishop of Cyprus Makarios III" in Nairobi, who will eventually become liturgical staff of the Church.
As a minimal gesture of solidarity towards their families, the Patriarch of Alexandria offered items of food, clothing and also toys for the children.
The overall reception was completed with traditional dances and songs of the Maasai tribe, who offered the Primate the sceptre of their tribe as their show of thanks for his visit.
Immediately after, the Patriarch of Alexandria returned to Nairobi, to continue with his current pastoral itinerary through Kenya, which will culminate on Sunday with the official celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the Metropolis of Kenya.