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Men abandoning families in Ngorongoro

Men abandoning families in Ngorongoro as hunger bites


19th November 2012


Women living within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA) have decried the increasing wave of men abandoning their families in the area and head to unknown destinations searching for alternative lives as hunger descends into the world’s heritage site. Speaking before the visiting parliamentary committee in-charge of Land, Natural Resources and Environment, NCAA-based women complained about the emptiness in their households as men and youth flee the area.

Nabulu Kolombo is one of the women in Nainokanoka Ward (one of NCAA wards), who revealed that all energetic men have left the Ngorongoro Division, setting out to unknown lands in search of alternative lives.

“Our youth are currently also following suit, crossing the border to Kenya, where they would rather work as night guards or watchmen in Nairobi,” said Mama Nabulu Kolombo.

District Chairperson of the Union of Women in Tanzania (UWT), Ruth Laltaika also pointed out that when it rains, women in other parts of the country plant seeds in their farms and harvest during drought season while in Ngorongoro agriculture is a forbidden activity.

According to Mama Laltaika, the district was still suffering the drought effects of 2009 when hundreds of thousands of livestock were decimated by famine which killed over 700,000 cattle, goats and sheep in Arusha Region.

Ngorongoro is resided by mostly the Maasai people who rely on cattle for their survival and the division which is mapped within the NCAA happens to be a conserved area under strict watch of the United Nations Educational, Science and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

“People here are given relief food of just nine kilograms per family of which they are expected to use for six months; imagine nine kilos for six-months and they are not allowed to farm here,” said the Nainokanoka Ward Counsellor, Edward Maula.

He admitted that men and youth are leaving Ngorongoro all together and that the division is only left with women, children and old men.

“Right now the people here have given up hope and are ready to do anything; the government should take note on that,” Mama Maula said.

For his part, Kakesio Village Executive, Saiboko Kimirei said a number of children and old people have died in the area due to hunger related ailments; “It was not ordinary diseases as reports claimed but hunger and just hunger.”

Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee, James Lembeli said the team will take concerns and table them before the next sessions of the National Assembly in Dodoma.

“Our delegations comprises of legislators from all political parties so be rest assured that your grievances will be heard in the right corridors,” he said.


Rains bring out the Dung Beatles

I took some pictures of a dung beetle foraging around in the wet dung after a rain. When I returned to sit on the front porch with some people, they told me this story:

Long ago a woman named Kaipoi gave birth to Senke, a baby girl. Senke grew up and there came warriors from the Ilumbua section of the Maasai to steal her away to their country. They called to her saying: “Come away with us! Here is milk in a white gourd”. Senke replied: “Go away, you are not my mother”. The warriors went away to visit the witch doctor to ask him what they might do to win Senke. The “olaibon” told them that they must stop eating dung beatles as was their custom. Then Senke would agree to go away with them. The warriors went back to the village of Senke but on the path they came across some dung beetles. Unable to contain their hunger, that broke off the legs of the beatles and ate them. On arriving at the village they called the girl as before. “Come away with us! Here is milk in a white gourd”. Senke answered as before: Go away, you are not my mother”. The perplexed warriors went back to the “Olaiboni”. He said: “You continued to eat those luscious dung beetle legs didn’t you”? You must stop! The warriors agreed to avoid their special delicacy and went back to the village of Senke. They called her as before and she immediately left the house of her mother and follow them to their far country. Her mother cried for days saying: “Those stupid warriors don’t understand how difficult it is for a woman alone without a daughter to help her”.

It’s Raining

The rains have come in a deluge. Two of our neighbors, women going for firewood were taken by by surprise when the churning waters swept down a dry river bed some one a football field distance from the house here. Both women saved themselves by grabbing tree roots. They were lucky. Every year people are taken by the sudden flooding of otherwise dry streams. The lizard in the picture jumped on the rock as the waters rose.

Maasai Girl Graduates University

Narropil Lememakua graduated from Tumaini University in Iringa Tanzania. Narropil has been with me since her very early years coming to the mission so that she could attend school. She started in kindergarten through seven years of primary school, four years of high school, two years of junior college, three years of clinical officer medical training and now three more years of psychology, qualifying her as a counselor and therepist. She now begins her career as a Clinical Doctor and Aids counselor at Salian hospital near Arusha. During her first eight or ten years with me she was under constant threat of being “sold off” in marriage so that her family could reap the short term benefits of the “bride price.” Narropil stuck it out and resisted all efforts to short-circuit her education. Her graduation from university was a very proud day for Narropil and for me. She  has now begun to help her younger brothers and sisters as they pursue their education in primary and high school.

A few tire punctures aside….

The new car is wonderful. The bad roads that I travel going to the places that I am evangelizing and the heavy loads of people that usually go with me are no problem for the new car. Of course punctures due to sharp rocks are a problem that one has with any car, but changing and fixing tires have been the only tasks we’ve had to keep us moving.

Blessing of the “Olkuma”

Blessing with milk
smearing the “okuma” with oil

Today I blessed the ceremonial knobkerrie of the new Maasai spokesman. Olendoiki had a bad fall a few weeks ago when getting down from a land rover. He dislocated his knee joint. Till the middle of December, he will have to wear a cast so his travel to settle disputes among the Maasai is put on hold for the time being. He mainly sits in the shade in his village and passes the time in conversation with people that come to visit.

Our blessing was accomplished with prayer, anointing with oil of both the Olendoiki and his “olcuma”, the sign of his office as Oleguanani, and a generous sprinkling of “Engare pus”, water mixed with milk from a the ceremonial gourd. There was plenty of singing and tea afterward.