AFRICA IS A COUNTRY

Loads of our readers have been badgering us to blog about Mindy Budgor, a young white, middle class American from Southern California (her site comes with a health warning) who traveled to Kenya for a PR campaign for Under Armour sports clothing prior to starting an MBA degree and disguised the trip as a white feminist cause to end sexism among the Maasai. Budgor predictably published a book (Warrior Princess: My Quest to Become the First Female Maasai Warrior) and goes on about her “tribe” of Maasai. She now gets  interviewed by glossy women’s magazines and even suckers The Guardian and the BBC (both of whom should be ashamed of themselves). The Guardian have chosen to indulge this sort of drivel plenty of times before despite always considering themselves better than other British newspapers, and we have to wonder why Mindy’s piece wasn’t posted to the Guardian Africa Network page if they really thought it was a piece worth publishing. It’s one thing to talk about getting past the bad old way of writing about Africa, quite another to show that you are really serious.

It’s incredible to us that editors have fallen for Budgor’s vapid attention-grab, as her prose reads like an Onion parody.

It’s like there’s a conveyer belt of this bullshit. Remember last week when England’s demented Prince William told CNN about how he relaxes with “African animal noises”? Not surprisingly, many of you have not been impressed by Budgor’s writing and have said so on our Facebook page (Andrew Hanauer: “Is UnderArmour a traditional Maasai clothing?”). So, this is an invitation to hear more of your thoughts. Just post them in the comments below. Maybe you have a message for Mindy? What’s the appropriate response to this kind of tired-ass trolling? If we just ignore it will she just go away eventually? We’ll feature some of the responses.

 

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80 thoughts on “The #Bullshit Files: Mindy Budgor, ‘the first female Maasai warrior’

  1. For sure, Mindy had a book deal in the pipeline before she got on the plane. I will betcha she had a literary agent waiting with baited breath for her to finish her little adventure in Kenya and get the outline. Jewish American Princess goes Warrior Princess…They’ll eat it up.

    Mindy is a serial entrepreneur, that is how that type thinks, ‘How can I make a business out of this’. I am not putting that attitude down as long as it is done within reason. When that attitude is used to the detriment of other people’s culture or lives, it’s wrong.

    I can guarantee you this, if Mindy was Folashade Kornegay (an African American) and did the same thing you would not have heard a darn thing about it, and she would have had to self-publish her book.

    Something else disturbs me. It would seem there is always a Black person willing to sell out his culture for a dollar. There have been NO Black female Massai warriors, but they allow this Yankee woman to travel to their land and qualify to be a warrior. There is a level of disingenuous manipulation going on here that is nauseating. I am sure she will be a darling of FOX!.

  2. I am absolutely DISGUSTED by this! And her personal website is the WORST. Apparently the “first female Masaai warrior” wears Chanel nail polish and washes her PEARL earrings in Smart Water. Are you effing KIDDING ME?!?!? Oh and 25% of book proceeds go to “empower” women. Yay! Let’s empower women of color to seek out “brave” middle class white women to be their heroes AND make money do that. “Go ahead! Appropriate my culture and get rich doing it! I’ll take 25% How empowering!!!!!!!!!!!!”

  3. Anyone read the White Maasai? That was about a German woman who married a Maasai man and went to live in his village. She did not try to be a warrior, and tried to live in harmony with the other village folks, but at the end the relationship became fraught and she left (with her child, unfortunately).

  4. I think Miss Budgor pursued her passion of experiencing a very interesting culture and has done an incredible job at creating a universe around this experience. All of the naysayers are clearly jealous of the ability to take a brazen leap into a new journey, and are solely focusing on her “privileged” situation. I applaud Mindy’s efforts and I think the book was punchy and sheds light on a culture that I was not familiar with. Bravo Mindy Budgor!!!!!!!

    • There’s many different ways to reply to your position. I have neither the time nor the inclination to offer a more nuanced reply, other than to say it’s clear that you’ve got your head stuck so far up your ass so as to not even consider the positions of the Maasai women who have commented that it just makes you, well, really quite dense. Vacuous. This topic and the pathetic racist, lunatic ranting and raving from white supremists decrying the nomination of an Indian(South Asian)-American woman as Miss America is regretfully, dragging America down a sink hole of idiocy.

      • or trolling! What I’m basically saying is, that shit was so dumb I can’t bring myself to expend an effort to respond. Kudos for putting in the effort though, I’ll take the next one for the team.

      • Now you’re just redundant. This is a site that tries to bring illumination to issues, of varying degrees and topics related to the African diaspora. It does not purport to embrace some dribbley, liberal notion of “can’t we all just be friends” type of crap that your friend Jane typifies. Explain what you mean. Jane’s position is pathetic. There have been first person accounts explaining to the average white listener as to the issue, yet they go dumb, deft and blind at the explanation. Maasai people have spoken here saying they are offended. Are you totally deft? You can drag a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. You, and many of the sniveling white people who lean in on the issues here understand the difference between shit and apple butter typify the ignorance of Jane. I will not reply to any further comments of yours.

      • yoooo hold on here dude, I’m completely on your side of the argument here. Maybe I didn’t articulate myself clearly (if so, my fault) — what I was trying to say was that Jane’s argument was so far out ridiculous that I wouldn’t even have responded to it. I was trying to give you kudos for even trying.

        I have no clue how you think I’m excusing her or am on her side of this argument. I commented above stating quite clearly how disgusted I was by this “woman maasai warrior” thing.

        Was this a miscommunication or am I missing something here?

      • Max, my bad, maybe. Got ya. Sorry for the misunderstanding. Typing and the internet leaves us in a quandary sometimes, and sometimes not Michah.

      • all good Jared. I definitely should write clearer sentences. Next time I’ll just be more straight up, as in
        “god that was a terrible comment from Jane. Also I appreciate your commitment to fighting the trolls here.”

        Clarity, I’m fast approaching it.

    • I’m a nay-sayer (this book is horse-crap, and she’s exploiting the concept of the noble savage for her profit), and I can certainly say I am not jealous of her. I think her a fool. I’ve spent over 5 years living in an African village, learning from them without trying to change their culture and without exploiting their culture for my profit. I think you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. Read some of the Maasai women and the Kenyan peoples responses to this article and maaaybe you’ll get a clue. Seriously, three months in a place is just a flashy vacation – to promote it as otherwise is moronic (Not Moran-ic).

  5. Jared, You have very angry prose and are continuing to attack without recognizing the validity of Jane’s points. Please recognize the true exploitation of the culture by pop artists like Beyonce and fashion houses such as LVMH which created a Maasai inspired collection. I think you should take a step back.

    • Micah, you have a very moronic, robotic prose, which typifies so many white people when they reply to issues concerning the African diaspora and /or post modern, or post colonial studies in general. Sorry if I sound complicated, I’m sure your simplistic mind is numb at this point. I’m sorry for your conditioning, it was not my fault. You continue to attack without recognizing the validity of the Maasai women who have offered up their opinions. To be told something by the people who are affected by said effect, and not to listen to their responses is stupid incarnate. Please recognize the true idiocy of your white supremacy, as embraced by so many mainstream artists and the public alike. I think you should take a step forward, into the present, or what ever abyss awaits you.

    • This is such a tired argument Micah…The ignorance and self-opportunism of one group of “true exploiters” does not justify/excuse the same in another. Beyonce’s has been taken to task on this website and others. The work of the fashion houses in appropriating black cultures, objectifying beauty as predominantly “white” and alienating a whole host of people in the process is also well documented and has been a source of debate for longer than Jane et al has likely been thinking about issues of race/class/culture. The sad truth is that we are still having to debate such things at all. The entire premise of Mindy’s story is appalling to begin with, a vapid and self-serving undertaking which serves only to perpetuate racist stereotypes, class, cultural and gender biases and the branding of cultural imperiousness as normative behaviour and fitting for mass consumption. The pit for such drivel is bottomless. I suggest you think before you jump.

    • As an “Ivy League educated individual” you should have a more discerning mind, Micah. The Maasai culture that you call “new” and “unpublicized”, is not. Your interest in “discovering” it should extend to challenging the very dangerous and longstanding stereotypes that have boxed African peoples (the Maasai among them) and their widely diverse cultures into little boxes to be ‘gift’ wrapped by glossy mags (from Glamour to National Geographic) for equally glossy brained readers. The geographic origination of the author is indeed telling, as is your insistence on reminding us of your “level” of education. The colonial gaze prevails in the Ivy League, no doubt!

  6. “What’s the appropriate response to this kind of tired-ass trolling?”
    I say laugh about it… At first, I was really annoyed by Mindy Budgor, but the more I read about her, the more I realize how ridiculous her whole story is. I watched an excerpt of an interview she gave to a British TV channel… (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLj6Oo3R720) We are doing her a great favor by taking her seriously.
    According to the paper Jared posted above, one is required to kill a lion with a spear to become a warrior… I wonder where’s the picture of the lion that Mindy killed?
    If you want to laugh more at Mindy’s expenses, I recommend the following article and the readers’ comments:
    http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/015439.html

  7. Middle Class Americans can’t afford to hire publicists. Thank you for seeing thru the web of words and inching toward reality proving once again ‘that time will bring to light whatever is hidden’. As for the majority of positive comments on this or any other forum, one only has to check the acknowledgements in the book to see that there is little to their independence and veracity.

    • Couldn’t agree more. Let her buy her way into her next meaningless endeavor. Google Luria Montecito Santa Barbara; money can buy a trip to Africa, a book about it and publicity. Not legitimacy.

      • I still see the book as a journey into a new culture. As an Ivy League educated individual, I accept new perspectives and recognize the value that exposure can bring to a somewhat unpublicized culture. I suspect you may be unable to understand this concept. Nor do I spend my time focusing on the micro details of the geographic origination of the author.

      • Micah – I have a PhD, what’s your point? Your Ivy League background apparently hasn’t led you to some critical thinking skills.

  8. Disgustingly indulgent, self aggrandising, ignorant, arrogant stuff.. Unfortunately only the tip of the iceberg in terms of wildly naive brats coming to discover themselves and ‘help’ East Africa. My friend is making a short film on the kind of social and psychological impacts this kind of thig has in Maasai community groups, if you are a swahili speaking woman there may be a job for you, please get in touch tjtr22@gmail.com thx

  9. It’s easier to blame the Westerners for their negative perceptions of Africa but as an African, I say the prime culpability for this is on us. We as Africans aid and abet this stereotype. in other words we feed this beast. Go to most African countries, an example Kenya..if you are white, you are treated like a demi-god, anything you say or do is right. We should all treat each other equal. Read Obamas book” dreams of my father” on how he as a black was treated less than his white counterparts when he went to Kenya for the first time.
    “Image” is everything in todays world. But in Africa, in order to appeal for aid money, we broadcast to the world our very worst dirty laundry, so we can be pitied and given aid. the worse the simulation, the more the aid.
    Did you know that in Kenya there is slum tourism? How disheartening! and as we know negative stories sell, that is why the average westerner thinks of Africa as an unfortunate place. If we as Africans take care of our”image” problem..maybe things can

    change.http://www.nation.co.ke/life+style/lifestyle/Slum+tourism+The+new+fad+for+foreigners+visiting+Kenya+/-/1214/1983218/-/3p38iez/-/index.html

  10. I have had the honor of having as a colleague in aid work a distinguished Maasai woman, Caroline Lentupuru, who was the recipient of the Sheila McKechnie Foundation’s International Campaigner of the Year award last year for her work combating child marriage and female genital mutilation among the IlChamus Maasai. She is the kind of heroine we should be talking about.

    There is a long history of the Maasai in particular being romanticized by Western visitors – I recall one infamous occasion where Oxfam ran an environmental campaign themed around the notion that we would all be better off if we all `lived like the Maasai.’

    The Maasai people are neither the ‘noble savages’ of early fiction, nor misguided primitives to be weaned from wicked ways by enlightened foreigners. They are not to be used as props in Western stories of self-actualization. The Maasai wrestle with the problems of what traditions to retain and what traditions to leave behind – as do all of us when faced with the modern world. It’s not appropriate for Westerners to tootle around the slums of Nairobi on day tours in between safaris, as other posters have mentioned.

    I would advise, therefore, that people who want to help Africa should bear in mind the history of exploitation, and should give in such a way that the manner in which the donor’s money is used to achieve the mission, is led and determined by African people themselves.

    Don’t give to build schools along Western lines and with inappropriately Western curriculum; give to support facilities at schools that already exist in places that will serve the need, and that teach a curriculum that is meaningful in that country’s cultural context. For crying out loud, don’t give a school ten copies of Jack Welch’s “Straight from the Gut” and think that you’re helping (true story). Don’t finance two-week-long poverty tours by green Western teenagers who know almost nothing of the country they are visiting, and whose presence will benefit the teenagers far more than the people they’re nominally helping. Give instead to well-run orphanages led by people you trust, verify that the money is used as intended, and don’t make it all about you. It’s not about you.

    If you’re interested in a charity that really achieves this, I recommend the charity Ms. Lentupuru represents in Maasai areas, “Growth Through Learning” – you can learn more at http://vimeo.com/35406976 or http://www.growththroughlearning.org.

  11. Feminism is a sham. Its just another tool in the playbook of the Imperialist White Jewish Hegemony.

    Modern Feminism has never once resulted in actually gaining rights for or bettering the lives of actual oppressed women. It is simply a tactic used to give rich, white, privileged, mostly Jewish women an even bigger slice of the pie theyre already hogging. Anyone who actually care about equality and ending oppression must oppose all White Feminists.

    • You’re an idiot, a paranoid, and an anti-semitic racist, probably misogynist and at the very least an idiot paranoid schizo sexist with silly delusions about who ‘really’ runs the world. Go back to your hovel cretin.

  12. Cringing my ass off.
    “Finding yourself” is limited to those who have the means and money to do so.
    Western feminism is still geared towards upper class white women who want to dismantle the patriarchy, rather then the Kyriarchy and ignores intersectionality.
    If she really wants to discover herself she can do this:
    live for one year working two part time jobs with no health benefits.
    Apply for food stamps, then observe how judgmental cashiers and customers will act
    Choose between paying rent or the electric bill.
    Keep the heat down to 50 degree F to conserve fuel oil.
    Not being able to see a doctor for illness or injury. If it gets bad enough you may get treatment in the ER. However by then your infection or injury is worse and maybe harder to treat, or not treatable. That small discolored mole that could have been removed earlier has spread to your organs and you’re in Stage Four,

    Stay in abusive relationship because you have no opinions.

  13. This woman is seriously delusional but Kenyans have a habit of putting white people on a pedestal. She stepped right up and must have felt incredibly comfortable. I doubt she believes her own silly nonsense but she has a lot of gall to even publish this fairy tale.

    • She makes very little attempt to even follow the rituals the men in the book lead her through. Everything’s too gross or too hard and the men shrug and let her off. She also really has no shits to give about the twelve year old girl she sees get forcibly married off.
      Seriosly, the whole process of being a warrior seems to be: go for very long walk, collect firewood, go to wedding and slap someone with your braids.

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