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July 2004

Endulen Diary
Vol. 19, #7
July, 2004

July 12th…

This morning, at dawn, I took four of our high school girls to the Ngorongoro shops, forty minutes away, to catch the bus to Arusha, the big town some 150 miles to the Southeast. During this time of the year the morning mist is a dense fog till about eight in the morning, so I didn’t see the elephant till I was almost on top of him. A huge rump took shape not more than three car lengths from the hood of our Toyota land cruiser. I slammed on the brakes and just in time too, because at that moment middle aged bull turned and begun to flap his ears at us. Both his tobacco stain colored tusks were broken off about a foot and a half from where they came out of his mouth. I don’t know much about the relative sizes of elephants but this one looked very big as he stood ears flapping staring at us with his tiny beady eyes out of the fog. After a minute or two he must have decided that we were no immediate threat; he turned and continued slowly on his way down the narrow track hemmed in by heavy bush on both sides. I followed at a very respectful distance. As time passed and the fog began to burn off with the coming of the sun, three other elephants, two cows and a half grown calf became visible through the gloom. None of the four elephants paid any attention at all to us and our Toyota, the initial inspection by the Bull having, I suppose, taken care of the curiosity of all of them. They ambled along browsing grass and leaves off the trees which lined the track. For more than an hour I followed them, unable to go around, and they showing no inclination to leave the open track. Only some minutes after eight o’clock, when the sun was brightly shining and we were in sight of a Maasai village located immediately on the side of the path did they turn off the track, silently swinging off into the dense brush. The most disconcerting thing about the whole episode for me was there total unconcern about the car. I didn’t even make them mildly nervous as long as I stayed twenty five or so yards behind them. The reason for this total lack of fear on the part of the elephants is, I suppose, the fact that they have no natural enemies.

When a child is born,…

women gather bringing gourds of milk to the new mother. They slaughter a sheep that is called “The Purifier of the house” or simply “The Purifier.” The women slaughter the animal by themselves, and eat all the meat. No man may approach the spot where the animal is slaughtered. Having finished their meal, the women sing songs, like the following, to celebrate the new life in the midst.

My God, to thee alone I pray

That children may to me be given.

Thee only I invoke each day,

O morning star (a praise name for God) in highest heaven.

God of the thunder and the rain,

Give ear unto my suppliant strain.

Lord of the powers of the air,

To thee I raise my daily prayer.

My God to thee alone I pray,

Whose savor is as passing sweet

As only choicest herbs display,

Thy bless daily I entreat.

Thou hearest when I pray to thee,

And listen to thy clemency.

Lord of the powers of the air,

To thee I raise my daily prayer.

(Free translation from A.C. Hollis)

Till next month…

Ned

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