Maasai chief wins international award for preserving culture

Maasai cultural chief Salaton ole Ntutu. [Robert Kiplagat, Standard]

A 67-year-old Maasai elder has been recognised by a US-based organisation for his undying passion to protect the community’s culture.

Chief Salaton ole Ntutu, the director of Maji Moto Maasai Cultural Camp in Narok South, was conferred with the 'Wisdom Treasure Award' at David Bower Center, Berkeley in the US over the weekend. The award was given by the Sacred Fire Foundation.

Ntutu (pictured left), a self-styled Maasai cultural ambassador has traversed several countries abroad to showcase the much-adored Maasai culture. He is the first African to win the award.

According to the foundation that was founded in 2007, Ntutu is the tenth annual award winner this year. He was found to be dedicated to keeping his culture alive and thriving.

“He champions self-sustaining initiatives in the areas of employment, water, women’s rights, education, conservation, and tourism through organisations he has co-founded,” read the attribute.

Ntutu founded the Enkiteng Lepa, a community-based organisation, that protects cultural values, ceremonies, and traditions while working to eliminate harmful practices such as female circumcision and early marriage.

In 2009, Ntutu founded the Maji Moto Maasai Cultural Camp whose proceeds fund progressive projects and promote the value of his community’s traditions.

“A lifelong dream for Salaton is to demonstrate that people can thrive by simultaneously preserving traditions and respecting the natural world, and while doing so, can increase awareness of the criticality of indigenous wisdom for all humankind,” said the Sacred Fire Foundation in a statement. Ntutu traveled to the US last week to receive the award.