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Coming of age

“Living near the Great Rift Valley on the border of Tanzania, the Masai people still follow traditional ways. Before the boys of this tribe of true warriors are granted adult status, they must first endure several centuries-old rites. They must become men.” 

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Vadim Onishchenko sold his first photograph in 2003 and quickly became addicted to the profession. He traded in his computer shop for a job as a professional photographer, and since 2006 has been organising a Photo Safari Workshop to Kenya, the setting for this series of photographs.

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    “The Masai are a strong people; the most interesting tribe in Kenya by far. As soon as the males turn fifteen, they undergo an intense ceremony to honour their adulthood. The boys who do not cry when being circumcised get to hunt birds and make a headdress from their feathers, the first token of a warrior.”

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      “To gather their strength, the boys return to the house of their mothers one last time to drink cows’ blood. It may look distasteful, but the Masai see drinking cows’ blood in the same way we see drinking a glass of orange juice. It is an amazing sight.”

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        “The Masai women keep their distance from the men during these ceremonies. They spend their time doing their daily chores in the village; from building houses and washing to raising the children. I once saw three women build an entire village on their own!”

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          “When the son visits his mother’s home for the last time, she also shaves off all his hair; the symbol of freedom. Now all that remains is for the near-adult warriors to choose a woman to marry. The dowry is ten cows, which will eventually be used by the sons to breed a herd for their own dowry after they have become men themselves.” 


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