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November 2001

Endulen Diary
Vol.: 16, #12
November, 2001

November 2:
Maasai Girls discuss Women’s Rights…

We have now gathered 12 Maasai girls for the coming year of our prep school. They came to us immediately after the eighth grade (STD 7) examination. If they had gone home, their families would have implemented whatever arrangements they had to get them circumcised and marry them off. These are girls who want to continue with their education and have the endorsement of their teachers that they are capable. Our school term does not start till January, so we have worked out a program to have English lessons for the girls each day and also we are going chapter by chapter through a book that deals with the problems of young people here in East Africa. There are chapters that prompt discussions of AIDS, balancing Maasai traditional values with present day exigencies, the status of women in Maasai society, and other issues. Each chapter deals with a different issue and there are discussion questions at the end of each discussion. The girls are learning to talk about these issues that really matter to them, and to have a lot of their questions answered in the course of these conversations with each other and their leaders. Leading the discussions is one of my girls who has now graduated from secondary school and is back home here in Ngorongoro.

November 4:
Permission to Cultivate Spelled out…

The Maasai have held a big meeting today to discuss their meeting with the president. It seems that there are to be tight rules as part of the decision of the president in allowing cultivation to continue here. All the people from outside the Ngorongoro Conservation area who have come to cultivate must leave. Also police, teachers, workers at the hospital and others, who live here because of some kind of a service position, are not allowed to cultivate. Only the few non-Maasai, who have lived here all their lives, can continue to come under the same rules as the Maasai, whose traditional land Ngorongoro is. The rules that no tractors or oxen may be used in the limited cultivation allowed will remain in force. All cultivation of the small farming plots must be done by hand and a person’s plot is to be 70 paces by 70 paces.

November 10:
Pregnant Fifth Grade Munene Looking Space to be Educated…

Munene, one of the girls who live in the girl’s dormitory here at the mission so that she can go to school, has become pregnant. The police are seeking the father, a local Maasai warrior. He has run away to the forest to hide. According to recently past Tanzanian law, a schoolgirl, who becomes pregnant, can have her child and then return to school. Munene, a fifth grader, frightened that if she returns home to have her baby she will be forced into marriage, is staying here on the mission. Elders from the family her father arranged to give Munene in marriage years ago, hearing she is pregnant, have now come to take their bride away. They, an elder and two warriors, have been hanging around the mission here for the past five days. They are trying to convince her to run off with them, and the family of Munene to convince her to run off with them. Her family would like to see her quietly go off with her perspective in-laws because it would mean a number of cattle and a good deal of money for them. Finally today, I got tired of it all, and went to the police. The police have warned them to stay away from Munene and us or get locked up.

November 25th:
Conservation Authority paces of cultivation plot size…

Ngorongoro Conservation people have begun to go around to each Maasai village to measure the 70 step by 70 step plots that each family will be allowed to cultivate for the next three years. These plots are pitifully small when one is trying to grow corn to feed a family and little milk is available. The herds of the Maasai people, aside from the few rich individuals, have been badly hit by tick born diseases in the past twenty-five or thirty years. Most people have little milk and depend on grain for the bulk of their diet. No one is supposed to start preparing his or her garden till the people come to measure. Because the small rains have begun, many Maasai here in the Endulen area have begun to plant. No one knows what the result of not waiting will be.

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