Language Learning and “Pencilgate”

study at desk
Spiritan at Maasai Language School

Maasai Language: Fr. Arkado, the Society of African Missions missionary, working with me here at Olbalbal, has begun a Maasai language course at Oltepesi in Kenya. Fr. Dennis, a Zambian Spiritan, is also taking the course. Fr. Dennis has just been appointed to the Nainokanoka area of Ngorongoro and will take the language course before taking up residence at his mission. The Kenya Diocese of Ngong sponsors the course. Hans Stokes, a Dutch linguist, together with Paul Morero, a Maasai language teacher, are giving the course. This initiative represents a major step forward in our Maasai work at Ngorongoro. Soon, we’ll have two more Maasai speakers among the four missionaries at Ngorongoro.

Solar Lighting for the School: The night is brightly lit these days due to the new solar lighting system recently installed in two dormitories of the primary school. Now the students are able to study at night and progress more quickly in their studies. At least that is the idea.

Solar power for our primary school

Musa is running everywhere and getting into everything. Just a few months ago we were wondering if Musa would ever walk. Then, all the children his age were walking and Musa was still crawling. We found this little boy neglected a year and a half ago and have been caring for him at his father’s request. Now at three years, Musa is chasing away the calves and goats that often try to enter our house. We’re afraid that he will be stepped on. Recently, pencil in hand, we found him half way to the primary school. He sees the other children going off to school and wants to follow them. Recently we caught up with him just entering the forest that borders the mission. Having seen the older children going for firewood, he had decided to collect firewood himself.

Pens and Pencils: On Saturdays we have a prayer service at a Maasai village near Oldupai Gorge. This is the place where Louis and Mary Leeky excavated artifacts in the way of bones and other things, relics of ancient dwellers of Ngorongoro. The proximity of this Maasai village to the tourist attraction of OlDupai has made it a place that tourists also sometimes visit. Pens and pencils seem to be the major gifts of the tourists to the people there. So much so that every time we go to the place, the Maasai load us up with pens and pencils to bring back for the primary school students at Olbalbal. The local shops that sell pens and pencils to the students have a huge unsold stock of pens and pencils. Our local merchants are not happy. I understand that a delegation of Olbalbal retailers is being formed to visit the Maasai village to complain about their loss of revenue.

Live Soccer from Europe: The new source of electricity has also made it possible for one of the teachers to begin a very lucrative business. He has bought a TV, a satellite dish, and has opened up a kind of small theater in his house. The attractions are the soccer games from Europe available live via satellite. He fills his limited space with European football addicts from nearby Maasai villages and shopkeepers twice a week. The teacher charges the equivalent of 75 American cents admission. Due to the limited seating and standing capacity of his living room, he must turn the overflow away on the Saturday and Sunday soccer nights. I think the next thing we’ll be hearing will be that he is expanding his house to accommodate the growing number of Olbalbal soccer fans. I am fortunate in that I don’t have television. People would be knocking on my door in great numbers to watch the games.


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