“Lighting a fire with two sticks? Why, it’s easy, just like one-two-three!” And I cringed at the recollection of a 13-year-old desperately trying to rub a stick on a piece of wood to prove she is really a scout. Shrugging the frustrating memory away I sighed, grabbed the stick and began to twirl it between my hands. “More pressure, come on, every woman in the village does it!” Clearly I have no strength in my deltoids and triceps because I could not produce even the slightest wisp of smoke.
“Oh never mind, give it here” the Maasai sighed. He gave the stick perhaps ten well-targeted twirls, and puff, it began to smoke at the base. A couple of quick blows, a little kindling, and voilá, a little fire. Easy peasy, yes?
(Tsavo East National Park, Kenya; September 2013)