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June 2001

Endulen Diary
Vol. 16 #6
June 2001

Paralyzed and retarded child pictured on the Home Page of our Web site dies:

Some of you may have noticed that during the initial stages of creating our Osotwa web site, Fr. Ralph posted a picture of myself with a young child. I’m sorry to report that the boy, Tendeu has died. The totally paralyzed and retarded seven-year-old child was brought to the mission by his grandmother. She had brought him to us in the hope that I might find some help for Tendeu. I took her with the boy to two hospitals in the hope of finding someone who could do something for him. The answer was the same everywhere: “There is nothing that can be done.” On finding that there was no help to be had, the old lady returned with her grandson to their home village in the mountains of Ngorongoro. I recently received news that Tendeu has died; there was no explanation as to the cause of his death.

A light hearted wager turns to tragedy:

Recently a non-Maasai young man, working as a day laborer here in Endulen, was drinking with a gang of game scouts in one of our local drinkeries. The game scouts proposed a wager. If the young man could drink a box of Konyagi, the local gin, the game scouts would pay for the drinks. If he couldn’t finish off the box, he would have to bear the bar bill. A box of Konyagi consists of 24 plastic packets, each containing one shot (tot) of the gin. They look like the small plastic packets of shampoo provided in hotel rooms. The fellow finished the box, won the bet, walked to the room where he was staying and fell over dead at the door.

Maasai warriors chase rustlers:

Warriors of the Sukuma people, whose country borders the Western Serengeti, raided the herds of Endulen Maasai cattle two weeks ago. They came with rifles and, in daring coordinated daylight raids, got away with some nine hundred cattle of various Maasai elders. The Sukuma attacked when the cattle were far from their home crawls grazing. The accuracy of the numbers of cattle taken are from the Maasai themselves and may be exaggerated, a trifle salted as we say locally. One Sukuma was killed, speared as he drove the cattle away. The rest separated the cattle into smaller bands and took off across the Serengeti, headed for home. Local Maasai warriors quickly mobilized, asked for and got Ngorongoro Conservation vehicles, and were off in hot pursuit. They obtained the use of the Serengeti Park airplane to spot the rustlers from the air. They tracked them for three days and due to the airplane that was in contact with the land rovers by radio, captured about a third of the cattle and a number of Sukuma warriors. The Sukuma, like the Maasai, believe that all cattle really belong to them, having been given to them as a gift from God during the creation phase of history. Therein lies the basic ideological difference between the two peoples, and the source of their regular to-and-fro cattle raids. Our teenagers came back in joyful bands, singing of their victory, and promising a revenge raid on the Sukuma in the near future. The killing goes on.

Lemayani OleKeriko, a very old man talks of
the feelings the Maasai have about cattle and grass.

The Maasai love their cattle very much, and consider that nothing in the world is of equal value. As with people, each cow is known by name. There is a saying: “One cow is like a man’s head.” This means that if a man has a cow, which he looks after and tends, it bears, and by so doing enables him to live. He will marry and have children, and thus become rich.

Now cattle feed on grass, and the Maasai love grass on this account. Whenever there is draught, the women fasten grass on to their clothes, and go and offer up prayers to God. If a warrior beats a boy on the grazing ground, the boy tears up some grass. When the warrior sees that the child has grass in his hand, he stops beating him. Again, if the Maasai fight with an enemy, and wish to make peace, they hold out some grass as a sign.

Whenever warriors return from a raid, the girls desire to praise those who have killed some of the enemy. A girl takes a small gourd of milk, and having covered it with green grass, sprinkles it over them. When people move they tie grass on to the gourds during the journey.

Should one man ask forgiveness of another with grass in his hand and his request be ignored, Maasai say that the man who refuses to listen to his prayer is a Dorobo (a member of that hunter gathered tribe), and that he does not know about cattle. Again, if a man who is traveling sees a tree that has fallen on the road, he pulls up some grass, and throws it on the tree; otherwise he fears that his journey will not be successful.

The Maasai love cattle and grass very much for they say: “God gave us cattle and grass; we do not separate the things that god has given us.

Till next month…

Ned

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