Vol. 19, #8
Kusiande tells her story…
My name is Kusiande EnOleNdango. I am a Maasai girl of eighteen years. My father has five wives and seventeen children. I started primary school in 1992 and finished seventh grade in 1998. During those years in grade school I didn’t like school very much. Many times I would hide in the bush so that I wouldn’t have to go to school and often my mother kept me home to help her on her trips for water and firewood. The teachers didn’t seem to care much and my friends and I avoided school as often as we could. This situation and attitude continued till I was near the end of fifth grade, then a couple of teachers talked to me about the importance of education. Slowly I began to look around and realize that education could make a real difference to my future, my family and my people, the Maasai. I began to see that we are at a disadvantage at the shops when we go to buy things because we don’t know arithmetic. When there are government meetings about water or cattle disease, we often can’t follow much of what is being said because we don’t know Swahili, our national language. After this advice from a teacher and a lot of eye opening, I began to think that education is important and that I should try to go on to secondary school. From that time, I began to make an effort to get to school every day and to pay attention to my school work. At the same time, it was clear that my parents were dead set against my going on the secondary school. Since the beginning my father allowed me to go to school only because he was afraid of the police, not because he thought education would be helpful in the life of a person. He wanted to marry me off as soon as I would finish primary school. I decided to do as my father wanted because if I refused I would be chased away from home. I became very discouraged. I gave up hope of getting an education because of my fear of my parents. I really wanted to go on to secondary school but the obstacle was my parents.
Because I was terrified of being chased away from home, I purposely failed my seventh grade exams, so that I would not be chosen for secondary school by the government. After leaving school I went home and began to prepare for marriage. I was home for seven months helping my mother. Then I began to get the idea again of getting an education. I came to the conclusion that it was important that I go on with my education even if my family would hate me. I went to my teachers and told them my goal. They helped me get to Endulen to Fr. Ned. I studied there for one year in the Osotwa Prep School. When I finished my year at Osotwa Prep, I got a place in Secondary school in the year 2000 and finished Form IV in 2003. After secondary school, I returned here to Osotwa as a teacher where I am now. In the future, I hope to attend Teacher Training School so that I can be of help to other Maasai young people.
I want to say that this history that I have written is repeated many times over in the lives of Maasai girls here at Ngorongoro. We have great difficulty in getting an education and meet discouragement from every side, especially from our families who want to marry us off as early as possible. Many of us have been helped by the Osotwa Education Program of Fr. Ned.
After telling my story, I want to tell you that I and many other Maasai girls are thankful for the help that you have given us. Your help and support has made a big difference to so many of us.
Pakasi, one of my Prep school students told me of the following indent that took place during his recent time at home. He and two other boys, Kirinda and Lendapa were running down a steep hill. The hillside was covered with shiny black rocks that shimmered in the mid day sun because of crystal chips embedded in them. We stumbled several times running down the hill, he told me. About halfway to the bottom Kirinda gave an anguished cry and fell down. I’m dying he shouted, a snake! Lendapa and I ran over to Kirinda and there, a few feet from where he lay, was a very fat puff adder. We grabbed Kirinda by the hands and pulled him some distance away. Lendapa threw his stick at the snake and missed. I threw my spear; it caught the snake in the neck and pinned him to the ground. Lendapa easily finished him off, crushing his head with a big rock. Kirinda had been bitten in the ankle. I tied a strong cord below my friend’s knee as my father had taught me.
Lendapa, the son of a Maasai healer, drew the short sword he wore in a leather scabbard at his waist. He told me to hold Kirinda’s shoulders and press them to the ground. He sat on the boy’s thighs and held his legs firmly to the ground. Lendapa made small cuts around the area bitten by the snake. He untied a small piece of horn that he wore as an ornament from around his neck. He placed the horn on the wound and bled it by sucking the blood into his mouth. The horn was open at both ends and as Lendapa sucked it became full of blood, and a little went into his mouth. He spat. He did this several times. Then Lendapa ran off without saying a word. After a while he returned with some roots he had dug up. He pounded the roots against a rock, us
ing his stick. He took the pounded roots and rubbed them on the bleed
ing wound. Then he pounded other roots and put them with water into a gourd we had with us. He shook the gourd, mixing well the crushed roots with the water, then opened Kirinda’s lips. His teeth were clenched. When still very young children, the lower center tooth is always removed. So he put some of the dark colored fluid through the opening in the boy’s lower teeth. Kirinda sneezed and the teeth unclenched. Kirinda opened his eyes and Ledapa made him drink some more of the fluid. “Now let him go”, Lendapa said. Kirinda was too weak to move. But Lendapa said that everything was all right. “If he hadn’t sneezed, there would have been little hope,” he explained.
He picked up Kirinda and, caring him over his shoulder, we set off for our village. We took turns carrying him and arrived home late in the evening. Kirinda was very sick for a number of days, but slowly got well.
Maasai Proverb of the month:
Be of firm heart!
(An expression often used when a person face many troubles at one time.)
Till next month….Ned