I had a funeral this week.
Esipat has died of a broken heart.
This is one of the saddest events that has taken place here at Olbalbal in a long time.
Before his death some years ago, Esupat’s husband arranged the marriage of his daughter, Nasha. He accepted gifts of tobacco and honey beer, and also received a number of cattle as the bride price of Nasha. Then he sickened and died. Four years passed and the prospective in-laws made no further move to complete the negotiations for Nasha to be the wife of their son.
Then Nasha finished secondary school and met a young man, also a secondary school graduate. They fell in love and, with the agreement of Nash’s mother, the boy’s family began negotiations to marry Nasha to their son. They agreed to return to the first suitor the cattle that he had given.
Suddenly the first family was desperate to finish the deal and take Nasha to their village. Nasha’s mother, given the disinterest of the first suitors for years and her daughter’s wishes, came down on the side of her daughter. In resent weeks it became a huge issue, with frequent meetings of Maasai “Ileguanak” leaders, all siding with the family that Nash’as father agreed to before his death. They maintain that Maasai tradition must be followed. The wishes and decisions of a girl’s father must be honored. The girl herself and her mother have no say in the matter.
The pressure mounted over the weeks with the Maasai leadership pressuring Esupat to force her daughter to marry into the original family of suitors. Then, this week, Esupat developed very high blood pressure and died, I think…..of a broken heart.
There was a huge turnout for the funeral and burial Esupat’s village. The events remain a topic of intense discussion.