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February 2006

Endulen Diary
Vol. 21, #2
February, 2006

Great Form IV Results for two students…
Two of our students, one boy named Arpakwa OleSakedie from Olbalbal and a girl named Naisharua OlDumu from near the crater have now finished Form IV with excellent results. They are sure to be selected for Form V and after finishing Form VI. If they continue to get high grades, they will have a good chance of getting scholarships to the university.

Note: In the incidents reported below, I’ve changed the names so the people can’t be recognized.

February 8th…
Woman treated unjustly…
Near the trading center of Endulen, there lives a woman named Ngais. She has three children and lived in peace with her husband for many years. There came the time when the age group “Irkidotu” was to ceremonially eat meat from the hands of their wives for the first time. During their time as warriors, young men only eat meat that has not been seen by women, and only with other warriors. Beginning to eat meat at home, with one’s wife and children, is a major step in the process of becoming elders, settling down and becoming responsible heads of households. A woman can only perform this ceremonial act of preparing meat for her husband, if she has not slept with anyone of the following younger age group, the one below that of her husband. Ngais had no trouble with this prohibition. She was highly respected and above suspicion. For this reason she brought much honor to her husband. Many wives of the age group had to decline to offer meat to their husbands, afraid of the terrible curse that would fall on them if they lied.

The ceremony passed and time moved on. Then came a day when Ngais’s husband married another wife. As often happens among the Maasai, the entry of a second wife into a family brings great trouble for the older wife. She often loses the love and attention of her husband. He showers all his attention and available money for food and clothing on his young wife. The older wife and her children are no longer looked after and get the leftovers at best. This situation came as a bitter blow to Ngais, who had brought honor to her husband by being a good faithful wife all those years. Soon it became clear that he wanted to take the cattle that he had given to Ngais to feed herself and her children and give those cattle to the younger wife. To accomplish this effectively, he saw that he must get rid of Ngais. He did just that by taking her back to her father saying that he could live with her no longer.

Fortunately, Ngais’s father welcomed his daughter and continues to care for her. Ngais’s husband kept the children and even refuses that Seyanoi come to visit them.

February 17th…
Cattle raid…

Word has been received here in Endulen of a cattle raid near Oldupai gorge. It seems that at about nine in the morning, three very young boys were herding cattle on the open plains. Very young kids are only sent to herd cattle in such conditions where visibility at great distances make it both easy to herd the animals and also safe for the young children because they can be kept track of by adults from far away. Things went badly wrong on this day.

In the center of the plain, surrounding a flat top acacia tree was a clump of bushes. A Sukuma raiding party from the Western edge of the Serengeti were hiding in the shaded undergrowth of the bushes planning their raid on the herd of cattle tended by the young children. As the sun climbed higher in the sky and the plains began to heat up, the cattle and the children drifted the lone tree to find a little coolness and, for the children, a place to play.

The raiders pounced and the children ran for their village to raise the alarm. One boy was caught and the raiders cut a large circle of skin from his wrist and hand, a trophy to take home. He was then released, screaming in pain, to follow his companions in their headlong dash for home. The raiders made off with the cattle westward, raising a great pillar of dust as they pushed the cattle as fast as they could travel.

People raised the alarm as soon as the children reached home, with the peculiar call that the Maasai use in times of great danger, a call that soon had people gathering from the surrounding villages. The alarm reached more distant villages by means of the cell phones that have become common during the past year, and quickly warriors were gathering from every direction. Soon the warriors set off at their ground covering lope, following the clear tracks of the cattle and later the pillar of dust reaching far into the sky that marked the passage of the herd. The inevitable battle was short and the outcome predictable as the large band of Maasai warriors descended on the small Sukuma raiding party. One raider was killed, spear in the chest as he was trying to loose an arrow while running from the warriors. The rest made their escape to return and raid another day.

On their return home with the cattle, the old man who owned the cattle slaughtered a cow for the warriors. There was much singing and retelling of the chase, and I suppose some planning of a trip to the western Serengeti.

February 23erd…
Family destroyed by alcohol…

Near Endulen lives Mepukori with his two wives and their children. This man was not rich but until recent months had enough cattle to feed his family. Then local beer took over his life. More and more, he spent his days with his friends at the beer shops. Our local beer is made from corn, fermented till it is a thick strong drink. Many people fool themselves into the belief that it is really just a kind of healthy food and is harmless. Of course, it is as addictive and gets people just as drunk as other strong drink. Mepukori soon began to sell his few cattle one by one to get money for drinking each day with his friends. Before long his cattle were finished.

After he fed his small herd to the “pombe”, local beer shop, he was lucky enough to get his name on the list of destitute people to be given cattle by “Ereto”, an NGO (non governmental organization). His wives, knowing that he would immediately begin to sell the windfall from Ereto, went to the Endulen village authorities and had the cattle written down and registered to them, so their husband could not sell them.

Seeing that he could not get access to the new cattle to feed his addiction, Mepukori became very angry at his wives and decided to sell the couple of goats that his family had left. He caught the goat of his older wife and led it away to be sold. Recognizing what their husband was doing, his wives followed him, surprised him as he reached the market and returned the goat to their village. Unable to sell the older wife’s goat and wanting revenge for what his wives had done, he caught and slaughtered a goat of his younger wife, calling together his drinking buddies to eat it with him.

The situation continued to escalate, with his wives less and less able to feed their children. Finally, the younger wife had enough and ran away to the village of her father. Her father returned her to her husband but soon she ran away a second time. This time her father realized the situation was impossible and agreed that she stay. Her father saw that the children of his daughter, still in the village of her husband, were in great trouble without their mother to care for them. He went and took the children, bringing them to his village to be with their mother. The older wife carries on in great difficulty living with her husband.

Till next month….Ned

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