The White Masai, Corinne Hofmann

What a page-turner The White Masai is! A rivetting read. I was glued to my Emirates Airlines seat, fourteen hours bound for Sydney, the instant a kindly fellow passenger took pity on me and handed over his just-read copy of the book. From page one there was no putting this yarn down…

The White Masai by Corinne Hoffman Published by Amistad 2006

The White Masai by Corinne Hoffman Published by Amistad 2006

And thank heavens for this kind passenger who took one look at what I was reading (the cringeworthy – dare I admit to having ownership of it – Fifty Shades of Grey), heard my frequent lamentations on what I was putting my till-then well tended to cerebrum through with this drivel, and then audible winces as I approached its meaningless ending. There; done. Exhausted. Never again a bad book choice, I told everyone in my row. It was at that moment the kind sir gifted me his just-read novel, which I graciously accepted and began devouring immediately (doubtless in a bid to erase the 350 or so Grey pages inscribed into my brain), Corinne Hofmann’s personal journey of love at first sight, The White Masai.

The year is 1987. She was white, well-educated, from wealthy Switzerland. He was a Masai warrior from a remote village in the poorest part of Kenya. We are talking spears, huts and tribes. The warrior paints his face daily, wears a loincloth, doesn’t understand kissing, and drinks goat’s blood. A mutual language they do not share, they know nothing about each other, yet, from the first glance, Corinne pursues Lketinga and they begin a torrid love affair in an Africa which has never seen interracial dating let alone a white person.

She moves to Kenya. Her four years in a barren, drought-ravaged land, amid villagers and goats, enduring malnutrition, three bouts of malaria, egregious mistreatment, hepatitis, blood transfusions, the endless scares of losing the baby in her belly, and the torture that is the demise of their marriage, is set out as an astounding chronicle written in the first person.

In her memoir, Hofmann offers no insight into the allure of her Masai warrior, explaining only that when it comes to her ”darling,” she is ”a captive of his world”. But when a doctor calls her ”stupid” while treating her post-partum for such advanced hepatitis that her kidneys have shut down, it is difficult to argue. There is no denying Hofmann’s narratives are engrossing to the extreme; she recounts what was endured with clarity and simplistic passion. If you are willing to ignore what is lacking (and somewhat irritating) in her memoir – a blind perseverance in ensuring that she got her man – then The White Masai will prove to be a most entertaining, shocking, arresting read. Enjoy the adventure.

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