We normally talk about the “Prodigal Son” parable of Jesus in terms of the old merciful father showing us that God is our merciful father.
Matayo OleTajeuo recently composed a song based on that story of Jesus, but his take on the meaning of the parable is very different than one might expect. He immediately jumped to a situation common in Maasai country these days. Many young men with little or no education and few cattle, goats and sheep leave home to find salaried jobs to help their families. They usually end up as night guards in the towns surrounding Maasai country. Every year some of these young Maasai are seriously injured or killed in attacks made on the places that they guard.
In composing the song about the “Prodigal Son,” Matayo focuses on this problem.
Refrain: Etii apa ninye orpayan obo oata ninny ilayok lenyena aare. Nejoki ninny olayoni oti menya. Mekure ayieu nanu ena kitoria ino (x2)
Long ago there was a man with two sons. The younger approached his father saying that he no longer wanted to live under the domination of his father.
Ore peeye eshoo menye lenye inkishu neoriki si’ninche o’ndare tenebo. Nereu sokoni newalu impesai nelo enelakua nelo aishiang’itie.
The father gave him his inheritance of cattle, sheep and goats. The son drove the animals to the market and sold them. Then he went off to a far country and spent all the money on useless stuff.
Ore peeye emuta pooki toki enye teng’iborra engong’u tiatua emerai, nelo aibung’are orkarsis lina’kop nejoki ninye, mirrita ilbitiroo.
When he had finished off everything with wild women and drunkenness, the boy went to a rich man who told him to go and take his pigs to pasture.
Lemaasai lang, maipima inkatitin amu etarrueiyei olameyu lena’kata. Tatala sii’yie ilayok linono enebaikita tiatua indipati.
Look out you Maasai, judge the times because the dry season and drought have brought hard times. Watch out that your sons are going off to put themselves in harms way among foreign peoples.
Amu ten’epuoo ninche ing’oru esiai nemeishore ninche inkulie siaitin. Kake eishori ina ‘rripor neaku ildiarin lemeirura iruai.
Because when they go to those places they are not given any other kinds of work. But they are given the work of night guards and they are like sleepless dogs watching through the night.