Vol. 20, #6
As we begin the second half of 2005, I am happy to report that our Osotua Maasai Education Program has 38 Maasai girls and 31 Maasai boys in secondary and technical schools throughout Northern Tanzania. Also, we will be sending three Maasai girls to begin Teacher Training College at Tanga on the 25th of July. Another one of our Osotua girls will soon begin a three year “Assistant Medical Officer” program under the auspices of Salien Lutheran Hospital at Machame hospital on Mount Kilimanjaro.
I am Panin Olorpurkoi Kerika, a Maasai boy of 22 years old.
My father who is of the alteritoi age group (now very old men), married three wives and we are 13 children in my family. I am the third born of my mother who is the second wife among the three. One wife died and the other ran away to leave my father and he remained only with my mother . in 1989 my father had ordered by the government to give a child for school. He was told to send my older brother. He didn’t want my brother to go because he was the only one of us of an age to herd the family cattle. Instead, he promised the government to give a child in the coming year. In 1990 I was taken to school even though I was very young, so young that I couldn’t reach my left ear with my right hand by reaching over my head. This is the traditional test to determine if a child is big enough to go to school.
In fact it was not the intention of my father to take me to school but rather he was forced to do so by the government. Always in maasailand, in those years, school was the place to take the children who were least favored physically or mentally. Parents believed that a child taken to school will be lost to them, alienated from village and even from Maasai country. They believed that the child would never be seen again.
I completed my primary education in 1996 and then I stayed one year in our family village home. During that time my father took me to a certain group of people who have power to confuse the brains of children so that education is hateful to the child and he or she finds it impossible to learn anything (These people are called IRKIPOROON). My father took two of us to those people, the other was a brother who had also completed primary school. After I observed how the ORKIPOROONI totally confused the brain of my brother, I refused to go them again.
Then I decided to go to OSOTUA PREPATORY SCHOOL where I met other Maasai boys and girls preparing to go to secondary school. I went to father Ned and he allowed me to join 1998 I spend one year and 1999 I was chosen to join to the Arusha Catholic Seminary. My father refused that I go to secondary school, but my mother was on my side and advised me to call together some sympathetic elders. These men convinced my father to let me continue my education.
In 1999 I started form one at Arusha catholic Seminary were I completed in 2002. My results were good enough to go on to junior college (Form 5 & 6), but I could not look for a school because Fr. Ned was away in the states getting his second hip replacement. I stayed at Osotua Prep School in Endulen and helped out with the teaching there for the space of a year. I continued to look for sponsorship to continue at school but didn’t find anyone to help me.
Immediately after fr. Ned came back from America I went to him and first of all I gave him “Pole” by giving him a goat as a welcome home gift. I wanted thank him for helping me until I completed “O” level
studies. And after I explained what had happen to me, he agreed to help me again. We applied to Kilimanjaro Boys Secondary School and I was accepted there for Form 5 & 6. I am now in Form Six and doing well.
My advice to other Maasai boys and girls who find their desire for and education blocked by family and others is not to give up. You will succeed in the end.
Till next month….Ned