Vol. 22, #8
August, September, October, 2007
Girls graduate primary school…
Primary school closed this month. Forty one Maasai girls, who have now completed their primary education, have come to me here at the mission. They are asking to stay here with us till the examination results are published early next year. The girls fear that staying at home may result in getting pregnant and/or being pressured into getting married. I have taken each one home to talk to her parents and all the parents, except two have agreed that their daughters stay here. We are teaching some English and Math to these girls, hoping that many or most will be chosen by the government to enter secondary school. This is a confusing time for these girls and they face an uncertain future. The one certainty in their lives is their desire for an education and their wish to help their families, especially their mothers and younger brothers and sisters.
One day a couple of weeks ago as I went about my regular round of teaching, I neared a Maasai encampment after about an hour’s walk from the Mission. I was a little disconcerted at not seeing elders sitting under the shade tree outside the village playing their board game. The one with the board having parallel lines of scooped out holes filled with small round stones representing cattle to be won and lost by the two opposing players as the game progresses. As I walked through the gate my disquiet increased when there were no groups of women sitting by the houses gossiping and sewing beads on their skin skirts. The usually busy Maasai village seemed deserted. The sudden cry of a child, evidently in pain, drew my attention to the other end of the village. There partially hidden from view by the corner of a house, was a small crowd of people. I walked over to what all the excitement was about. In the center of a circle of men women and children, there sat on a three legged traditional stool a middle aged women. In her hand was a short knife sharpened on both sides and at the moment dripping with blood. Between her legs and on the ground sat a girl of about eleven, the source, I realized, of the sharp cry which had drawn me over. As I watched, the girl opened her mouth and, what I now realized to be a surgical operation already in progress, continued. The woman proceeded to carefully dissect out a very large tooth. She cut with painstaking care deeply all around the tooth. Then she proceeded to dig and pry till after just a minute or two, the tooth came free, its’ three roots perfectly intact, each half and inch long, curved and pointed, glistening with droplets of blood. During the operation, except for two what must have been especially painful moments, the little girl was very quiet. The people too were dead silent too during the whole procedure. One woman, the mother of the little girl, did speak a word of encouragement to her daughter from time to time. Hers’ was the only voice to be heard, and it was not often that she spoke. I was amazed at the whole event and even more so when I was told that no painkiller or anesthetic of any kind was used. After just a short time the patient was sitting quietly with the other children, not taking an active part in their games, but not looking very much the worse for wear either, after what must have been quite an ordeal for her.
Today near the marketplace here in Endulen an old man of about 70 was herding mama Ngayeni’s herd of goats. Without warning two young men appeared, speared the old man, who died on the spot, and made off with a large ram. As the days have gone by, the reports concerned this murder are more and more conflicted. As far as I can figure, it was somehow a family matter that erupted into violence. No one seems to have the full story.
Till next month,