The Maasai Cricket Warriors have dropped their spears for cricket bats. They use cricket as a vehicle to transmit messages against social injustices, female genital mutilation (FGM), early forced marriage and wildlife conservation.
In Kenya, a group of young Maasai warriors from the Laikipia region formed a cricket team with big hopes: to promote healthy living, to spread awareness about HIV/AIDS and women's issues, and ultimately to become role models in their community and ambassadors for both the Maasai and Kenya.
Since they formed in 2007 they have gone from strength to strength. From leaving their village for the city of Mombasa for training, to competing in the Last Man Stands World Championship in South Africa.
The warriors bowl and bat in their traditional clothing – blood red ‘shukas’ and bright, beaded necklaces – symbolising the importance of maintaining the positive aspects of their culture. They relate their sport to their traditional hunting techniques: the ball is the spear and the bat is the shield.
The team captain is Nissan Jonathan Ole Meshami. Meshami was born in 1986 in a remote village in the Rift Valley area of Kenya, the youngest in a family of nine children. Unable to attend school, he helped his family tend their herds of goats and sheep. "I mastered the art of throwing a spear at a very early age and I also became good at throwing stones long distances. The aim of the spear was never to harm or hurt any wildlife, but rather as a protection if ever I had found myself in a one-on-one situation having to fight for my own life."