It’s a land of mystery, a land where time honored traditions that die hard, plagued in some areas of blight and in other areas brutal mayhem. But where Africa is at peace, where the traditions are alive as vibrantly as they were a thousand years ago, Africans know the worthwhile elements of life like no other civilization on earth. It’s a place of natural beauty and wonder, of trials and tribulations, of celebrating life in ways so many of us will never comprehend. It’s a place where its dark skinned inhabitants have no misguided issues with the human body. It’s a place where men have sinewy bodies, well-shaped asses and magnificent penises.
In posting this series of photos, I thought about a scene from my novel The Strange Haunting of Johnny Feelwater. Johnny’s search for answers about his life and his confused sexuality takes him to Kenya, where he meets with a man in a remote Maasai village, a man he believes can answer his questions. During his visit the two men attend a Maasai ceremony, which has a dazzling affect on Johnny. Here is a scene from that part of the story:
Johnny had been watching one of them in particular. A young man who would be king, Johnny surmised as he leaned forward and stared, resting his forearms on his knees, letting his hands hang limp. The warrior, shouldering no more than twenty-five years of life’s trials, stood an inch or two taller than his companions; a stature enhanced by a magnificent, horseshoe-shaped headdress, feathered with stuffed orioles and kingfishers. Flaring nearly as wide as his shoulders, he wore it like a crown. Chalky white paint formed a raccoon-like mask around his eyes and strands of beads crisscrossed his forehead. Set in the perfect symmetry of a longish, oval-shaped face, his eyes shone with self-confidence and arrogance, his nose long and broad with large nostrils, his lips a voluptuous, omnipotent smirk. Tied at the back of his neck, a bright red cape draped down over his torso to his knees. It hung loosely open down the back, which allowed shadowy hints of rich black skin and the masculine contours of his lower back and buttocks.
The shadows had drawn Johnny’s eyes, and his imagination. And why not? Why not, now that his self-recognition was out in the open and clear? Why not allow for one opportunity to savor male beauty? He sighed as he stared at the uninhibited warrior as if no one else were there, with little doubt about what had caught and claimed his eyes, mindful of the feelings that warmed his inner thighs. He wondered what went through the young man’s mind, displaying himself that way, so freely allowing one and all to behold his sensual beauty. Reflections accompanied Johnny’s dream-like gaze that unmistakably defined his evolving vulnerability, enhanced each time the animated warrior turned this way or that, or a wisp of air stirred the red cape.
Such perfect gluteal flesh, as if by design this part of the body was meant to reduce one’s thoughts to one thing: two mounds separated at the convergence of strong and graceful legs by a darkened, tantalizing rift. So specific were Johnny’s thoughts as he stared at these umber and tar-like colors, that he sighed and let the image take complete hold of him. Yes, he knew. It was nothing less than another confirmation that rose out of his not-so-subtle gaze. Now he fully recognized these duplicitous urges. He was in touch with his need to enjoy such fine male sculpture, and enjoy it he would; for it was the one part of him, upon leaving Africa, forever destined to live in poverty.
As if the dead leaves had been raked from his consciousness, so many things were clear. He finally realized how often over the years his head turned for a second glimpse at a man in passing, those subliminal occurrences that went back to his earliest memory. Incubating inside him since birth, it had drawn its first breath that day in the gym. All those boys. How naked they were in the shower, that pageant of genitals and flesh every which way he turned, those gluteal contours that cast a spell every time one bent down to wash his legs. No, he had not been simply curious about the other boys’ penises that day—he had lain awake that night wondering about their weight and texture and taste, and set sailing by the infinite varieties of color and shape. So was it all buried on his wedding day? Hardly. Nor could he blame Julian, after all. Julian had not infused him with this propensity for firmer flesh and masculine smells—Julian had simply looked into his mind and responded to an invitation already there.
The tireless warrior did not hesitate to impose his lively antics upon the young women, teasing them and lifting their chins as if he were inspecting their faces, while the other warriors stood near and looked on with awe and envy, passively acknowledging they stood in the presence of a man with whom they could not compete. Spellbound by the warrior’s charisma, Johnny drifted on reverie as his eyes revisited again and again every glorious detail. On his fingertips lived the desire to touch; on his tongue the desire to taste; within his arms the desire to hold. Involuntary were the flexing muscles of his buttocks and legs, and within his loins lay a yearning for the penetrating warmth of another man’s need. Such was power of human genes, the instincts and desires that are called upon from within those dark creases and landscapes of flesh, those subtle nuances that connect the world’s like-minded men. Such was the power of one man to own another man’s mind.
Encroaching on his wistful thoughts came the deep resonance of Brian’s voice.
“What?” Johnny asked, jolted from his daze.
“His name is Seto,” Brian repeated.
“Who?” asked Johnny, turning to him.
“The one you’re staring at. He’s the one connected to the girl I was treating when you first arrived. Now that she’s recovering, she’ll become his third wife. He and the men he’s with have been out stalking some goat-snatching hyenas. …Quite captivating, wouldn’t you say?”
“Apparently you agree. You’ve been staring at him the last ten minutes.”
“Yes, I agree,” Johnny replied, looking back at the enigmatic warrior. “Three wives. That’s hard to fathom.”
“No kidding, when just one can be a handful. These men can marry as many women as they wish, and a young man like Seto has little difficulty attracting them. I’d say at least one or two of those gazing at him now are hoping to be his fourth wife.”
“Brian … how can you feel worthless one minute, I mean really worthless, not worth the cost of the bullet it’d take to kill you; and then feel justified to indulge yourself the next, because you’ve worked every day of your life and not once enjoyed a personal reward for the effort?”
“Sounds like guilt. Bet I could guess what was going through your mind when you were looking at Seto.”
Johnny stared at his companion without a reply.
“I thought so. Well, this isn’t an occasion to lose behind a blindfold of guilt, my friend. Take stock of what’s before you. Isn’t it obvious Seto has put himself on display? So why not enjoy looking at him? He represents God’s finest work. Why deny yourself the pleasure of such perfection?”
The young warrior turned suddenly and caught Johnny staring at him. Their eyes locked for a moment, Seto’s gleaming with humor and curiosity. He broke from his friends and started toward the knoll, his prankish gaze lit with hints of mischief. His friends followed, stopping behind him as he stood towering before Johnny, looking down at what likely seemed to him a rather plain looking, city dwelling black man, confined in a white shirt, blue jeans and sandals. The elders on the knoll stopped their conversation and watched with interest.
A nervousness settled over Johnny. He felt antsy becoming the sudden focus of Seto’s attention.
“Iloridaa enjekat,” said Seto, grinning. Laughter erupted from the elders.
“What did he say,” Johnny asked, aware the words had been directed at him.
“It’s a reference to your jeans,” said Brian. “It means ‘Those who contain their farts.’”
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