Vol. 17, #5
Our District officer held a meeting today here in Endulen. Large numbers of both Maasai and non-Maasai attended. He explained that he had received a letter from the non-Maasai people of our area complaining that only the Maasai of Ngorongoro are allowed to cultivate. The letter went on to say that people working for the hospital, Conservation, the local primary school, the police and local shop keepers are unable to properly feed their families because of not being allowed to farm. They asked for a food distribution program to supplement their diet. The DC announced that there would be absolutely no cultivation in the Conservation area of Ngorongoro by anyone who is not a member of the traditional residents of Ngorongoro. The Maasai themselves are allowed to cultivate for two more years and then all farming will be forbidden for everyone.
Many Maasai women of Endulen had a march today to protest the forbidding of women’s circumcision. The police have taken seventeen into custody and fined each woman the equivalent of $25 dollars.
…… A few days later… Matei OleTiman, Member of Parliament for Ngorongoro, came to Endulen and had a meeting with the Maasai women, announcing that there will be a long jail sentence people caught circumcising their daughters. This is a very difficult thing for the Maasai people to come to terms with.
A spokesman for the retiring warriors is being chosen. Normally this takes place near the opening of an age group. The man that the IlKing’onde (Landisi) chose when they were new warriors has not worked out. He has no leadership qualities. In Maasai life, leadership, at least retaining leadership, depends on personal qualities more than having been chosen. An ineffective age group leader (Olgwanani) is simply ignored and falls by the wayside. Someone more capable slowly emerges and replaces him. The new leader often simply moves into leadership without fuss or official recognition. Less often, his selection is more public and official. This is what is happening now in the Ngorongoro area. The front-runner is a graduate of our Osotwa Education program. He is Pakai Olonyokie, who is my Head Teacher here at Osotwa Prep. Pakai is also the secretary of the pastoral council that advises the Conservation Authority on Maasai concerns and… is chairman of Endulen village.
The popularity of Pakai is surprising. He has been fully involved with me in working for the education of Maasai Girls for many years. Pakai has gone to court with me on numerous occasions and we have even, now and then, been instrumental in getting fathers, brothers and lovers temporarily locked up when they have tried to block the education of Maasai girls. The warriors are exactly the people with whom we have often come into conflict. It is a tribute to the genuine concern of the senior warriors for the good of their age group, that they would choose someone like Pakai, even though they have had many difficulties with him in the past. They are aware that Pakai is a person of integrity, who does not take bribes and is ready to fight for his convictions and stand up for people he is concerned about.
On arriving at one of our places near the Serengeti, we were met with a sea of sad faces. Last night a woman was bitten in the head by a snake while she slept. Her head swelled up and she died early this morning. Snakes often live in the walls of people’s homes.
Till next month…