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Oloicura’s dilemma

Oloicura has signed on with me here at Olbalbal to watch the place when I am out in the villages and when I go overnight to the main mission on the crater rim. Yesterday, he came with a big problem. He needs to get his wife and three children back. Years ago, Oloicura went to the village of a local elder and undertook to herd his cattle for years, about ten. The elder on his side agreed to give Oloicura his daughter in marriage. This is a common way for a Maasai man to marry, if he doesn’t have cattle to give his prospective father-in-law.
Oloicura shepherded the old man’s herd for some years and then was given one of the family’s daughters for his wife. Oloicura continued to live with his father in law and to herd his cattle. The old man also gave Olocura sufficient cattle for the house of his daughter. Three children came along and everything was going well. Then things went very bad very fast. Oloicura got into an argument with his mother-in-law. The disagreement escalated to name calling and some very serious accusations and nasty language. The mother-in-law, in a fit of rage went to her husband and demanded that he take his daughter back together with the children and chase Oloicura away. To maintain peace in the family he agreed to do as his wife wanted. This is where the situation stands and now oloicura wants me to act in the name of his father who is very old and lives far away. He wants me to go with him to ask forgiveness and get his family back. He figures that my position as the padre here in Olbalbal might prompt his mother-in-law to accept his apologies. Another bazaar factor in the mix is that both he and his mother-in-law are members the small group of fifteen that lead the singing in our Christian community here. I’ve asked around and a couple of the leading elders of the area tell me that there is no way that Oloicura’s mother in law is going to relent. Her feelings run too deep.

3 Responses to “Oloicura’s dilemma”

  1. Wow what a nightmare.  You’re right it is quite bizarre that they both sing together yet have this serious lingering family issue.  You would think that he would have taken his wife and children and left but it happened the other way around.  Does he have any legal rights?  If she won’t relent on moral grounds, will she perhaps on legal grounds?

  2. Ned on 31/01/2012 #

    The national legal system and the Maasai traditions are very different. Bypassing Maasai cusomary practice and taking the legal route would alienate him from his commmunity. At the same time to take his family and leave would not be an option. He has no resources, no where to go. It is doubtful if his wife would defy her father and go with him. To risk being cursed by one’s parents is an extremely risky business. It seems that Oloicuru’s only viable option is to make peace with his mother-in-law, however long that might take.

  3. Makes a lot of sense Ned.  Thanks for clarifying this.  Yeah what was I thinking.  Bringing your in-laws to court is an all around bad idea no matter where you live.  I hope Oloicuru is granted forgiveness by his mother-in-law.  How terrible to not see your 3 kids and your wife like that.

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