January 2006

Endulen Diary
Vol. 21, #1
January, 2006

As the New Year begins here is something of who and where we are…


Endulen mission encompasses about half of the Ngorongoro conservation area, the central feature of which is the crater itself, with its’ heavy concentrations of wild animals. The great herds of buffalo, zebra, wildebeest, gazelle and the many predators, lions etc. make it, perhaps, the major tourist attraction of East Africa. To the North and West of us are the vast Serengeti plains, and to the South and East, the shear walls of the Rift Valley give onto breathtaking views of the Salt lakes on the Rift floor. The entire Ngorongoro highland area, of which Endulen is a part, is traditional grazing land of the semi-nomadic Maasai, and the landscape is dotted with their cattle camps.

Endulen itself is a small trading center some eighteen miles from the Ngorongoro Crater. There are small shops here, and twice a month there is the cattle market to which Maasai come from great distances. They come to buy sugar, tea, salt, corn meal, and the white “shuka” cloth, which they wear draped over their shoulders toga fashion. They “shop for these things with the cash they get from the sale of their milk and butter. The highlight of the market is always the cattle auction, which gives the Maasai access to the money needed for major expenses like getting married. Here in Endulen, we also run a hospital for the nomads. A Tanzanian doctor and four African sisters staff the hospital. The use of the diocesan plane every couple of weeks makes it possible to do clinics in otherwise inaccessible places and to bring critically ill people here to Endulen Hospital.

An important priority here at Endulen Mission is the education of young Maasai leaders. The Maasai have little voice in the decisions which affect them. Their primary schools are much poorer than in other areas of Tanzania, and they have only one secondary school, very poorly operated compared to the seventy post primary schools in the neighboring district of Kilimanjaro, serving the Chagga people. Their permanent water and arable land continues to be taken at an alarming rate. There is only one way to turn this situation around. There must be educated Maasai sitting on decision making councils at every level. Maasai will soon be nowhere if they don’t acquire a voice in the decisions that affect them. Here in Endulen, I want to do all I can to make this happen. Right now I have almost 100 Maasai girls and boys in secondary and technical schools, with a view to eventually becoming veterinarians, mechanics, nurses, teachers, lawyers, politicians etc. Also, many of our Maasai boys and girls are at University in various programs.

Kokarre Elekana Olenginoni…

Kokarre comes from the far North of Maasai country very near to the border of Tanzania and Kenya. Her family lives a traditional Maasai life in the mountainous country northeast of the Serengeti plains.

When Kokarre was a little girl she helped her mother carry water from the spring some two miles from her village. She carried the water on her back in locally produced tin containers. Most Africans carry loads on their heads; Maasai differ from the rest in this respect. Accompanying her mother on trips to the forest to cut firewood was another one of her tasks as a small girl, as was herding the young calves and goats near the village. All this was to prepare her for her life as a Maasai wife and mother.

Her father, Elekana, sent Kokarre to first grade in an effort to prepare her to deal with people of other more sophisticated tribes. So often the Maasai are cheated at the shops when they go to buy salt, sugar, tea and other things because they don’t know Swahili, the national language, and especially how to count and figure in Swahili.

When she finished grade school at the end of 2005, she approached her father about continuing her education. This was something of an unprecedented step for a young Maasai girl to take. In the normal course of events, Kokarre would have been circumcised and married soon after finishing grade seven. At this juncture I heard of her desire to go on and I joined her in pleading with her father. He reluctantly agreed and Kodarre joined my Osotua Prep School here in Endulen this month. With the remedial help in English and Math she is receiving here she hopes to be pass the entrance exams and be accepted into a high school come January of 2007.

Till next month….Ned

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