Vincent Donovan shares introducing the eucharist to the Masai people.
... I was extremely cautious in passing onto the people the liturgy of the eucharist ...
... To take the first step in directing them how to do this ritually was filled with dangers. Any symbols or gestures I might choose, as proper liturgical celebration, could easily seem a cultural encroachment to them ...
... So the first Masses in the new Masai communities were simplicity itself. I would take bread and wine, without any preceding or following ritual, and say to the people: 'This is the way it was passed on to me, and I pass on to you that on the night before he died, Jesus took bread and wine into his hands, blessed them and said, "This is my body. This is the cup of my blood of the New Covenant, poured out for the forgiveness of sins. Do this in my memory."'
... The people took it from there. It is extraordinary the way people will play the gosepl back to you, if it is presented to them in an uninterpreted way.
... Masai men had never eaten in the presence of Masai women. In their minds, the status and condition of women were such that the very presence of women at the time of eating was enough to pollute any food that was present. Hence, men could never eat with women. How then was eucharist possible? In their minds it was not. If ever there was a need for eucharist as a salvific sign of unity, it was here. I reminded them that beside the law of love which I had preached to them and they had accepted, I have never tried to interpret for them how they must work out this law in their homes and in in their lives, and in their treatment of their daughters and wives and female neighbours (as sorely tempted as I had been to do just that). But here, in the eucharist, we were at the heart of the unchanging gospel that I was passing on to them. They were free to accept that gospel or reject it, but if they accepted it, they accepting the truth that in the eucharist, which is to say 'in Christ, there is neither slave nor free, neither Jew nor Greek, neither male or female.'
They did accept it, but it was surely a traumatic moment for them, as individuals and as a people, that first time when I blessed the cup, or gourd in this case, and passed it on to the woman sitting closest to me, told her to drink from it, and then pass it on to the man sitting next to her. I don't remember any pastoral experience in which the 'sign of unity' was so real for me. And I was not surprised some time later when a group of teenage girls told me privately that the 'ilomon sidai' (good news), that I talk about so constantly, was really good news for them.
Vincent J. Donovan, Christianity Rediscovered: An Epistle from the Masai (SCM, 2001 ), pp.97-99.