What Happens Next

They say a picture tells a story. This picture continues one.

In early 2018, I met William “Maasai Prince.” I got lucky—a journalist produced a feature story on him, a connection shared it on LinkedIn, and William answered my Instagram direct message inviting him to join a group dinner during my inaugural Venture Travel experience in Tanzania. His reply was so thoughtful that I knew we’d be friends. Born in a rural Maasai village and now a musician living mostly in Dar es Salaam, he’s a Modern Warrior.

After meeting William in Tanzania, our friendship continued viaWhatsApp. One day, he told me Something About His Sister. We embarked on a project that brought me deeper into his world and family. 

Daniel Kijo & William “Maasai Prince”

In 2019, I returned to Tanzania for my second Venture Travel. Once again, William agreed to be part of it. This time, I invited both him and Daniel Kijo—the journalist who produced the CGTN feature story that led me to William—to join our group for a discussion and dinner. We talked about identity, family, career, and connection. It was my favorite day of the week-long Trip.

Yet through it all, I was serenaded by memories from the week prior.


One week earlier, I landed in the middle of the night in Dar es Salaam. My driver whisked me from the airport to Morogoro, Tanzania’s sixth-largest city at the base of the Uluguru mountains. During the four-hour drive, I forced myself to stay awake; the single-lane highway connecting Dar es Salaam and Morogoro was a popular route for trucks and pre-dawn was their favorite travel time.

Morning Assembly at SEGA

As dawn broke, we reached Morogoro and our destination—SEGA Girls’ School. After breakfast, I would be a guest at the students’ morning assembly. I’d find myself scanning a sea of 280 fresh-faced teenage girls on a shared mission to change their lives through education. I hoped to find the girl I’d never met that inspired my visit.

The project William and I had worked on was helping his bright, motivated 14-year old sister Juliana escape child marriage and attend secondary school. Through research and outreach, I found SEGA; through a logistics plan I’ll never fully appreciate, William got her there. Juliana arrived at a foreign place with the clothes on her back. She didn’t know a word of English though it would be the language of instruction. As months passed, I received periodic updates. Juliana’s progress was slow, but she was committed to the work. “You just wait,” said Elly, the Head of School. She had seen this story before.

As I passed through the school gate and took my first steps on SEGA’s campus, I thought about Juliana taking the same steps one year prior. I couldn’t wait to meet her, expecting her to be a shy young woman who’d nervously smile and look down, softly answering questions asked of her.

Meeting Juliana

An exceptionally tall girl walked towards me. Juliana greeted me with a warm smile and hug. She picked up my lunch tray and escorted me to the pavilion where I’d join her and fellow students for lunch. To my surprise, she was quite the conversationalist.

Juliana showed me around her campus, and we made plans to have lunch again on Friday. The girls always look forward to Fridays, but this Friday would be extra special. Her brother William “Maasai Prince” would perform a concert at her school. Their mom would also attend. SEGA had already started playing some of Maasai Prince’s songs during breaks to get the girls excited; Juliana told me how funny it was to hear her brother’s voice over the speaker.

Friday finally arrived. William and his mother were on campus, and I couldn’t wait to greet them. William looked different and a full inch shorter having recently cut his spiky dreads. He introduced me to his mother, Sabrina, who was gorgeous in colorful Maasai cloths and beads. Seeing me, she erupted in a smile. She wore it every minute we spent together, a means of communication when our respective languages of Maa and English failed us.

When Friday classes ended, students and staff moved into the covered outdoor pavilion for the concert. Darkening skies began to dump rain. The DJ started spinning tunes. Add to that the voices of excited teenage girls…and it got loud! As Maasai Prince performed, I took video on his Samsung phone, photos on my iPhone, and scanned the crowded pavilion looking for Juliana. Students ran up to join Maasai Prince on stage while others danced in front of it. When the School Manager—a middle-aged man in khakis and tie—hit the dance floor, the girls exploded in delight.

The performance ended, the DJ turned up the music, and more students got up to dance. They surrounded Maasai Prince, and he led them in dance moves which they easily followed. Finally, I saw Juliana in the crowd. We briefly danced together before she fled across the room in embarrassment, hand over mouth and afraid to look back. 

It was time for Maasai Prince to leave. With his mom already in a taxi, we were finalizing our plans to meet the next day. I turned around and found a group of students surrounding us. We stopped talking. One girl asked a question. He responded. They all moved in closer. Soon the questions were flying:

“Who are the musicians you most admire?”

“What do you love most about performing?”

“Do you have a girlfriend?”

“What advice do you have for us?”

The crowd grew and the girls moved closer. I watched my friend espouse wisdom like an older brother. He was in his element. “But I have to go, the car is waiting.” He looked at me and we giggled. The girls fired away with more questions. I tried to back up to photograph the moment before realizing I was stuck in place—there were rows of girls behind me. The girl who asked the first question asked the final questions.“You’re good,” Maasai Prince said. “Persistent. Like a future journalist.”

“Thank you. Yes, I will be a journalist. That is my goal.”

Then I watched my friend dash through the pouring rain to join his mom in the waiting taxi.


The next morning, I picked William up in Morogoro town. We would stop for a visit at the family home he’d recently built for his mom, sisters, and their children in the village of Bwawani, about 30 minutes past Morogoro on the way to Dar es Salaam. 

Months before, William had told me he was helping his mom move from their rural traditional Maasai village, a remote location only accessible via a combination of car, moto, and foot. His mom wanted a better life, and he wanted her to live closer. He located some land near a cousin’s home and worked to have a new home built. I remember when he texted me with news of the move, sharing a celebratory photo of them around a campfire—their version of the pizza-with-champagne-on-the-first-night-in-a-new-home photo.

William’s sisters and their children made the move as well. One older sister had been married off as a teen to a 70 year-old man, who’d recently passed away. In total, there were seven children in the home. In addition, there were animals—cattle, goats, and chickens—which also needed food and shelter.

As we approached the homestead, William swapped places with our driver, knowing he could more easily navigate us through the mud-soaked grounds in the continued dumping rain. It hit me how big a deal this family move really was. You don’t just call a moving truck. I had a million questions for William—the logistics of finding land, building a home, and walking animals over 100 kilometers to a new location. I wanted to know his father and the other villagers’ response to the family’s leaving. Fortunately, William and I would have hours to talk on our drive back to Dar es Salaam.

Our visit to the new family home was brief. William toured me through four rooms and explained the work to the walls and windows still to be completed. I saw a small pile of cell phones in the middle of a room, and my eyes followed the attached cords extending to a solar panel on the roof. I met his sisters, nieces, and nephews; we laughed, hugged, and communicated via William’s translation. Then we ran back to the car in the pouring rain; I’d have to walk the land and see the animals another day.

By the time we returned to Dar es Salaam, the rain had stopped, and William and I enjoyed a seaside beer and dinner. I ordered a local Serengeti lager; he swears by Heineken. As the screen behind us played 1990’s music videos, I shared tales from growing up in the American MTV generation while he told me about his teenage training as a Maasai warrior.

On the surface, we couldn’t be more different.

We talked—about the importance of mentorship, how men are critical to changing deeply embedded gender norms. We are both people who seek to lead by example. We believe in the power of change; we know change often happens quicker than we think.

While I could have these same conversations at home, I traveled 10,000 miles to see them brought to life in Tanzania. William’s personal example and his sacrifices—big and small—inspire Juliana, his other siblings, his mom, and even those he’s never met to lead change.

It’s change that is real. It is visible. It’s definitely worth the trip.

I’m only two years into this friendship. I can’t wait to see what happens next.


CLICK TO HEAR JODI, WILLIAM & JULIANA TELL THE STORY

The story continues—and you are invited to be part of it. Join a future Venture Travel in Tanzania—including local experiences in Dar es Salaam, a stay at SEGA School, and safari in Mikumi National Park. Connecting with incredible individuals like William and Juliana will be your highlight. Subscribe to my posts to receive early updates.


Discover more from Jodi Morris

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.

Jodi Morris Written by:

Venture Guide to High-Achieving Seekers. Success Coach. Venture Travel Curator. Impact Investor. Traveler. Writer. Global Connector. When we connect to others' stories it changes our own. Let's Venture!