In the forest above the mission here at Olbalbal there are herds of Cape buffalo and many elephants. In the deeply shaded glens of the forest these animals find shade and rich green grass, as do the
herds of Maasai cattle. There are many Maasai villages on the edges of the forest and in the open meadows inside the forest itself. This area, called Olgilai, is not far from Olbalbal village and people come to the shops in the village to buy corn, sugar and other necessities. Also many children make the daily trek to attend classes at the primary school located in Olbalbal village. Although the forest is filled with those very dangerous animals, Maasai people seldom have problems with them, having learned over the millennia how best to avoid potentially lethal encounters.
At night it is a very different story. No one dares to walk through the forest after dark. It is considered foolhardy and extremely dangerous to be on a forest path at night. People plan their trips to the shops so that they will be back home well in advance of twilight and darkness. School children have the danger of being in the forest at night drummed into them from their earliest years and never wait till late in the afternoon to leave school for home.
For all these reasons, there is almost never a problem with the lethal beasts that populate the forest so close to the Maasai villages of Olgilai.
The old men that come down to Olbalbal village looking for “pombe” alcohol are in a class by themselves. Although, alcohol is now forbidden here and offenders are subject to serious fines, “pombe” is still to be found, secreted in hidden places around the village. These ancients (most of them are about my age) spend their days seeking out these concealed caches of alcohol. Unlike the women who come to buy things at the shops and the children who study at the local primary school, these old guys feel no urgency to reach home before dark. They start out whenever they have had their fill of the local brew and as often as not travel the forests paths after dark even passing out by the side of the path in their drunken state and sleep right there till morning. Strangely enough, nothing ever seems to happen to these oldsters.
That is nothing happened till a few weeks ago. OleKiroiya had spent the day drinking with his buddies well hidden in one of the houses of the village away from the vigilant eyes of the village authorities who would have levied substantial fines on these oldsters. Dusk began to fall and the ancient celebrants began to take their various paths toward their home villages. OleKiroiya staggering a little, but still capable of walking a crooked line began his regular homeward journey of a couple of hours. This night he was not so lucky; his usual immunity from harm had run out. A Cape buffalo bull had chosen the same path as that of OleKiroiya and somewhere in the middle of the forest their paths crossed.
It could have been worse, the huge bull charged and caught OleKiroiya on the right knee. The old man dropped like a stone and was still, waiting for the sharp horn that would gut him. It didn’t happen. For some reason, the buffalo lost interest and moved off. The knee of OleKiroiya was totally shattered. People came upon the old man in excruciating pain the next morning. They carried him to his village and subsequently his family took him to the big hospital at the town of Moshi. He spent two months there undergoing various operations. It seems that OleKiroiya will eventually be able to get around with the help of two crunches that he will need to use for the rest of his life. His days of walking to Olbalbal village to spend the day drinking with his friends are over.