Vol. 22, #6
Church marriage was no marriage…
I was brought up short recently during a meeting called by our Maasai elders to reconcile a marriage dispute. Some seventeen years ago I witnessed the marriage of Lekishon and Sitau here in the church at Endulen. Sitau had left her first husband because he beat her regularly and refused to support her and her infant son, using all his resources to support his drinking. She left the traditional marriage with the approval of the Maasai elders, of her family and of the area. Having married Lekishon with the approval of the elders and in church, Sitau gave birth to two daughters and everything went well enough for many years, then both began to drink heavily until finally they went their separate ways. Now the dispute is about cattle and a small plot of land with a small house on it which they built here at Endulen. Nothing was really resolved at the meeting, and after a number of acrimonious monologues from both sides, the meeting broke up with no firm decisions. The reason that the meeting was so significant for me was an intervention by an elder as the meeting was drawing to a close. OleSirme stood and said that to even talk of a marriage, a church marriage or any other kind was irrelevant. There simply is no marriage except the original one wherein a son was born. He went on to explain that no matter what kind of union Sitau might enter into, it will be of no lasting consequence. Her son, according to Maasai custom, will eventually grow up and bring her home, the home of his father and her true husband. The meeting gave me a lot to think about. I must be very careful in the future about agreeing to witness Maasai church marriages that have a traditional marriage in the background, especially one that has produced a son.
past three weeks has seen the hunting and killing of about forty dogs in the Endulen The area. There were packs of dogs roaming around looking for something to eat and finding almost nothing. This situation has been going on for a long time with the dogs getting thinner and thinner and ever more desperate in their search for food. The tipping point occurred when a chicken went missing and although never proved, the disappearance was attributed by many to the one or other of the dog packs intent on keeping body and soul together. Enter the Ngorongoro game department with a team of game scouts armed with a rifle, prowling the area in a land rover. Although many dogs were killed, these wily beasts quickly caught on to the deadly game and found daylight hiding places deep in the bush only emerging after dark to continue their quest for food. The hunt goes on with fewer and fewer canines bagged. The situation has been complicated by a few people who claim ownership of dogs about to be eliminated. Yesterday, I came upon such a situation that was fast developing into a fistfight or worse. I moved on and don’t know what happened after I left.
I ordered a small wind generator to augment the electricity produced by the solar panels on the roof. Many days during the rainy season are overcast and if the dark days become more that two or three, we’re reduced to using kerosene lamps with no internet or satellite TV, a situation that was the norm during my first 35 years of living in the bush. It is amazing how fast one gets used to luxuries like electricity. When there is no sun and therefore no electricity, it becomes a “hardship”, albeit a recently acquired hardship. My idea is that during dark days and at night, there is often some wind, enough to top up the batteries and keep our life style up to the standards to which we’ve become accustomed. I’ve put a 15 foot 3” pipe into a cement base and am just about ready to bolt the small wind generator spinner to the top.
A group from the UK has given us the gift of solar systems for our two dormitories and library. This will make a real difference for our Maasai young people. They will be able to study in the evening, something that they have done using kerosene wick lamps up to now. It will also give them the opportunity to see more clearly what they are eating in the evening…… although, some may not see this as a plus.
A further note on the wind generator…I think that we put it in the wrong place. The spinner doesn’t spin and the reason may be that the force of wind is broken by the house. I should have done my homework more carefully.
Last week I went to check on Naikunyinyika, a little girl of about five years with epilepsy. About a year ago her father brought her to me explaining that she was having seizures a number of times each day. She stayed with us here and with the help of proper medicine, her seizures stopped. Then about three months ago I took her home, thinking she was stabilized and people in her village could continue giving her the medicine each day. I found her in pretty bad shape. She wasn’t getting her daily medication and the seizures have returned, averaging three a day and she is very thin. Her mother died years ago and nobody seems to be taking care of her. She is here at Endulen now and we’ve started the medication again…no more seizures so far.
Till next month,