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Poisoned

A neighbor died this week. He had been having major stomach pains and swelling for about a week and a half. Some days ago he was taken to a hospital run by Europeans at Karatu, the nearest town two hours away. Then, after a couple of days with no improvement, he was taken to the big hospital in the small city of Arusha, a five-hour drive from here. Again, he did not get better and his condition continued to worsen. Then, afraid that he would die far from home, the family brought him home. He died in great pain a couple of days ago.

Shortly before dying, the man told his brother that he had been poisoned and had no hope of surviving. He related to the brother that he and gone to the Maasai area of Oltepesi to collect a cow that an elder owed him and stayed at a village there. He did not know the people well but simply slept in the house of a member of his age group, as is normal Maasai custom. The woman of the house gave him some maize porridge to eat and shortly he began to have some stomach pains. The doomed man said that he did notice that the woman cooked the “uje” especially for him and cleaned the cooking pot afterwards. No one else in the house ate any of the food that he was given. In fact, he offered one of the children of the house a spoonful of his “uji” and the woman of the house knocked the spoon out of his hand and told the child to go out of the house.

This week also came the news that the police in the town of Mwanza are holding the son of a local Maasai family. He was acting as a night guard at a car repair garage. Thieves broke in and stole some car parts and the police of the robbers arrested the guard, a boy of about 18, as a suspected accomplice. Now word has come to Olbalbal that, although the boy has been cleared of any involvement in the break-in, he will not be released until a bribe of the equivalent of one thousand dollars is paid to the police. His family has few cattle and this news is a mortal blow. They have no way of raising that astronomical amount of money and don’t know what to do.

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