Vol. 15, #4
Ice Storm initiates Maasai into snowball making:
We had a terrific hailstorm recently. It totally shredded the leaves on the Maasai corn stalks that have grown to about a meter high. Generally it didn’t break the stalks though so the corn will likely recover. The storm also demolished the vegetable garden of the school planted just a week ago when the rains started. Some small goats and sheep were killed and some weaker huts were smashed to the ground. Afterwards, the ice was as much as ten inches thick on the ground in some places. It looked like it had snowed. The children, seeing ice for the first time, were all filling cups and other containers and were sucking on the ice the rest of the day. The rain and hail was coming down so hard, it was seeping through the walls. We ended up with half an inch of water in the house. We had a major clean up job. The house is now cleaner than it has been for years.
Rat freak-outs skip this:
This should gross you out. We have had a big rat in our outhouse for some weeks, seen from time to time running along the top of the wall. We put out a trap, baited with meat and got a sprung trap with a big tuft of fur. The second day we tried again and later found the trap five feet from where we had put it, sprung and with a rat leg in it. He had chewed his leg off to get away. No more rat sightings for the last five days, three legged ones or otherwise.
I ♥ my chain saw:
I can’t stop praising my chain saw. It’s the best thing to come along the pike since Maasai curdled milk and e-mail. I spent about an hour in the woods on the way back from teaching in a Maasai village yesterday. We filled the car with rock hard great firewood in about an hour. If STIHL Chain Saw Company wants someone from our Maasai Prep to do a TV commercial for them, we’re ready.
We continue to be the haven of last resort:
While at a Maasai village, a couple of weeks ago, we were asked to take, Sidima, a boy of about eight together with his very old grandmother. He is totally paralyzed and badly retarded. They say they can’t take care of him in the Maasai encampment that he comes from, and don’t know what to do with him. We don’t know what to do with him either but he’s here. He seems happy and pleased to be around a lot of people who pay attention to him and care for him. I’m going to check it out, but I don’t think anything can be done for him.
Ngaishambai looks like she has done twelve rounds with the heavyweight champ and lost all twelve. Ngaishambai is another recent arrival and is a woman with epilepsy. She is having seizures four or five times a day. She is really battered from falling down and getting bashed with things, when she has the seizures. New cuts and bruises show up every day as she continues to have seizures. Again, the people at her village gave up trying to take care of her and dropped her off here. I am taking her to the hospital regularly and they are trying to get her stabilized on medication, but they don’t seem to be having a lot of success.
Three Maasai high school graduates find hospital jobs; one perseveres:
Three of my Maasai girls, having graduated from high school (Form IV) in 1999 have gotten jobs at our Maasai hospital in the North. The doctor, an Austrian volunteer, wants a Maasai nursing staff. He has agreed to take them on and let them work in the hospital for a year. After a year, if all goes well, he plans to send the three, Nemburis, Selina, and Siyama to nursing school under the sponsorship of the hospital there in Loliondo. One couldn’t do the work and another found it difficult to be around the sick, so we’re down to one at this point.
The periodic wars between the Sukuma and the Maasai are flaring up again. Two weeks ago, a raiding party of Maasai warriors from here attacked a Sukuma village over on the Western Serengeti, taking a sizable herd of cattle and spearing a Sukuma warrior, killing him. Now the Sukuma have come and raided the Maasai of our area, driving off a large herd of cattle and shooting dead a Maasai warrior with a rifle. Things are escalating fast. The police have captured some of the warriors from here. I don’t know what is happening with the Sukuma to the West. The elders are always trying to put a stop to the cattle raiding, but it’s difficult. Many of the Maasai warriors feel it’s part of growing up to make their bones with a successful cattle raid or lion hunt.
In another event, a Tanzanian Lutheran pastor working here in North Maasai has been shot dead by Somali raiders. These outlaws are a spill over from the troubles in Somalia. It seems that in Somalia, there are great numbers of automatic weapons to be had for the taking. Large numbers of these Somali bandits operate in Kenya and a few here in Northern Tanzania. The government is constantly trying to capture them, but never seem to get them all. Maybe it’s that more keep coming. The Maasai are very afraid of them and their guns. Some few Maasai warriors take up with them to share in profits of their raids. The Maasai warriors that join the Somali themselves become outlaws and outcasts.
Prediction that Sein would turn white didn’t materialize:
Sein graduated from grade school (Std. 7) in 1998 and joined our prep school here on the mission in 1999. Her father is a very important person in the area, a leguanani (Maasai traditional leader) and a power among the local Maasai people. He wanted no part of Sein continuing her education and wanted to marry her off immediately after she finished primary school. Sein herself had other ideas and came to me asking that I take up her cause to continue her education. We did and it was a real battle ending up in the local courts. We took it all the way and won mostly because of the adamant stance of Sein to continue her studies. About the middle of the year (1999), Sein came to me saying that a brother and sister were to be circumcised and she needed to go home for the festivities. I thought long and hard about this because in so many instances, school girls, who go home for even a short time, come back pregnant. Sein felt that she could deal with that and so, reluctantly, I agreed. Two months later it became clear that I had made a mistake. Sein came to me and said that she thought she was pregnant. It had happened during the festivities a couple of months before. Those of you familiar with Maasai life know that Sein would have had little practical control over the situation. Sein asked that she be allowed to have her baby here and then continue her education. As we usually do when this happens, I met with the matrons of the girls and teachers. All felt she had a strong desire to continue and the kind of strong character to carry it through. We agreed that she stay with us and have the baby. After a couple of false alarms last week, we took her over to our mission hospital and she went into labor that lasted about six hours with no good results. It seems she has some kind of bone difficulty that makes it hard for the baby to get out. They did a caesarian section and both Sein and her little baby boy came through it. Sein lost a lot of blood during the operation and needed a transfusion. Since her folks were dead set against her going to school, they weren’t around. I, luckily, have a compatible blood type and was able to give her a bottle of mine. Many people were crowding around as my blood dripped into Sein’s veins. They thought she was going to turn white for sure. To the consternation of many, it didn’t happen.
Till next month….