Published: 19.07.2004.
Language: English
Level: Secondary school
Literature: n/a
References: Not used
  • Research Papers 'Masai', 1.
  • Research Papers 'Masai', 2.
  • Research Papers 'Masai', 3.

Daniel Lekimenju was the Masai warrior who killed his first lion at 17 and grew up in a community without running water, baths or flushing toilets then came to Britain to be with a short, blonde London hairdresser with two failed marriages and three children to her name.
The pair met in 1993 when Cheryl, now 39, was holidaying at a resort in Mombasa witn a girlfriend and Daniel was one of a troupe of dancers empioyed to entertain the packagetrip tourists.
Cheryl was so enamoured of the handsome warrior - ten years her junior and, at 6ft 2in, more than a foot taller than her — that within months she left her then husband, Mike Mason, and three children to make a return visit to Kenya.
A few weeks later she brought Daniel to Britain and on Valentine’s Day 1994 - in traditional Masai dress - the pair wed in Newport Register Office on the isle of Wight.
It was the union between a man from one of the most primitive tribes in the world and a woman as English as cream tea.
It took almost two years for the couple to convlnce the Home office it should award Daniel a permanent residency visa to live in Britain. At one point he was deported and Cheryl sold her belongings to finance another trip to Kenya, where she lived for a while witn Daniel's parents and eight siblings in a hut made of cow dung.
In Britain she was pillorled for leaving her children with their father and in Africa she struggled to survive in the stifling heat.
In 1995, when the couple returned to the Isle of Wight on a temporary visa, neither could find work and they moved from one grotty bed and breakfast to another, sometimes weeping with the cold they had to endure. But such hardships seem a world away from the apparently secure family life they now enjoy with Cheryl's children Yesterday's christening was proof that against all odds their unusual love has survived. For now at least.
The first thing that strikes you about this extraordinary pair is how very ordinary they and their lifestyle are. When we called at their modest, three-storey terrace house in Cowes, Daniel answered the door with Misti perched inquisitively on his hip.
Her concerns are those shared by mothers of small children the length and breadth of the Country. Obviously romance suffers because we have no family nearby to baby-sit, so we rarely go out together. I might pop round to see a friend or Daniel might go running.

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