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JMU research analyst rediscovers roots in Kenya
“I’m back to where I belong” are the words that introduce Jacob Mayiani in “Jacob’s Journey: A Maasai Warrior’s Journey Home.” The 30-minute documentary was just accepted into the African Film Festival in New York.
This film follows Mayiani, a research analyst at the Office of Institutional Research at JMU, as he reconnects with his Kenyan roots in a coming-of-age Olngesher ceremony that changes him from being a warrior in the Maasai tribe to an elder. It occurs every 30 years and involves hundreds of tribe members.
“I had the privilege to spend time with the Maasai tribe on my first visit to Kenya,” Blaze Nowara, co-director of the film, said. “I knew what I was getting into to a degree, but I didn’t realize how large the ceremony was going to be.”
This is the remarkable story of Jacob Mayiani, a Maasai man living in the US who returns to Kenya for the final ceremony completing his warriorhood —a ceremony that only happens once every 30 years. As filmmakers Blaze Nowara and Josh Morin explain, capturing the story was stepping into the unknown. The tribal elders would decide exactly when and where the ceremony would take place, decisions that could change at any time. ʼWe didn’t even know the day or location of the ceremony before we left. ʽ