The Maasai people of Ngorongoro continue to be resistant to educating the girls in their families. This is the case, although upon finishing their studies and getting a job, I don’t know of a single girl that does not substantially help her family.
I guess a lot of the reason can be put to the economic situation of most Maasai here at Ngorongoro. As time goes on, everyone seems to be getting poorer. Some years back, the people received a major blow when cultivation was forbidden in the Conservation area, No one had much of a farming plot, but the acre or less of corn and beans helped a lot, providing a cushion of food for some time into the dry season. That “cushion’ disappeared with the loss permission to have small plots of food crops. Now most families struggle to find the equivalent of seventy-five American cents to buy the small amount of corn flour to mix with whatever amount of milk they might have for the evening meal. During the rains things are better as wild spinach and more milk become available.
The immediate possibility of some cash and a couple of extra cattle is hard to resist in these circumstances. Especially when that immediate windfall is compared to the possibility of help from their daughter years down the line. Most fathers want to marry their daughters off soon after they complete grade seven, the last year of primary school. The father of Fabi is no exception. Four years ago, I was fortunate to find a place for Fabi at St. Joseph Secondary school. It is a very good school run by a group of sisters. Once a young girl has a place in secondary school and is assured of support for her education, the parents can’t refuse that she continue her studies.
Fabi has done well. She is smart and has worked hard. Her results for each of the four years of high school have been good. If we able to continue to support her in her studies, Fabi wants to go to college.
Solar Heist…There are some young people here in Olbalbal village that seem determined to embarrass the local police force. Our local “precinct” is composed of only a couple of officers, one of whom, exploiting an old foot treadle powered sewing machine, has become the village tailor. One night a couple of weeks ago, the poorly secured solar panel was stolen from the roof of our police station. In the morning, the constable began to investigate the theft and was rewarded by “dumb” expressions on the faces of all those that he questioned. To the surprise of everyone, The next night it was stealthily returned to the same roof. The officer in question, although happy at the return of his light providing solar panel, was very embarrassed by the whole incident.
Soccer Black out…A teacher here in Olbalbal has satellite TV specifically for showing the European FAFA games. He had a house full of paying customers some weeks ago for the final game between a Spanish and Italian team. Many Maasai young people love the soccer they learned to play at school and take advantage of every chance to listen to games on the radio or pay the teacher to watch them on his TV setup. The house was packed and the game began. Then twenty minutes into the game, the screen went blank. The monthly subscription of the teacher to cable TV from South Africa had run out. There were howls of disappointment from the assembled fans but there was nothing to be done. Their entrance fees, the equivalent of about seventy-five American cents, were returned and everyone sadly went home.
Dog Bite…A couple of months ago, Noonkuta was walking home from the shops with a bag of corn flour on her back. As she passed one of the houses in the village, a dog ran out and bit her in the leg. She fell to the ground and lay there holding her injured and painful leg. Some women friends found her there and support her as she limped to the clinic. The staff at the hospital dressed the wound and questioned her about the dog. She told them that the dog is owned by the “diwani,” one of the leaders of Olbalbal village, a Maasai man. The doctor wrote a letter to the “diwani” with the bill of the women’s treatment. Strangely enough, the village official has absolutely refused to pay the bill, saying that it must have somehow been the women’s fault. This kind of thing happens so often. The poor here have no redress against the rich and powerful.
Father Arkado has killed nine scorpions on the walls and floors of the house here at Olbalbal during the last two weeks. It is the deep dry season here and strong winds constantly raise great clouds of dust. I am always looking for a place out of the wind. Maybe the local scorpion population is too. One was crawling up the wall next to my bed…Lucky we spied that one!
A couple of days ago I noticed that my car license ran out and I was getting ready for the five hour trip into Arusha when I heard that it could be renewed at Karatu that is two hours away from here. I went there and was amazed at the technology that made it possible to renew the license quickly. At the mobile phone store, they led me through paying for the new license using my cell phone. That took just minutes. Then I went to the licensing office and they already had notification in their computers that I had paid. The clerk then printed out my new license and sticker for the car. That whole process took less than ten minutes. It used to take hours waiting in line to pay for a renewal and then about six weeks to get the new license and sticker from Dar-es-Salaam, the capital.
Another thing that is amazing to me is how adept the Maasai young people are at using their phones. They exchange Maasai music and Maasai music videos via blue tooth instantaneously. There seems to tons of contemporary Maasai music on line together with the Maasai music videos. The young people have ways of getting this stuff on their very inexpensive mobile phones. It is not unusual to come upon a couple of warriors herding their cattle out on the plains that are sitting under a shade tree watching a music video on the tiny screen of a mobile phone.