Vol. 21, #3
March 3, CATTLE RAID THWARTED
Two Maasai warriors of the Korianga age group joined with two young men of the adjoining Wairaq people to mount a cattle raid against the Barabai people below the rift. They successfully cut out twelve cattle from a Barabai herd and began to drive them in the direction of the Kenya border with the idea of selling them in Kenya and returning to buy untraceable animals here in Tanzania. Their plan did not remain a secret and reached the ears of our local village authorities. The warriors together with their small herd of stolen cattle were captured at Mbarwai near Endulen. The thieves received lodging in our local lockup, were fined 12 cattle in addition to the ones that were returned to their owners and a further fine of 700,000/= Tanzanian shillings, about $710.
March 6, VISIT OF OUR NEW PRIME MINISTER:
Our new prime minister, Edward Lowasa, held a public meeting here in Endulen this week. He spent much of the meeting listening to and helping to resolve the difficulties of individuals. A woman with one arm rose to tell her story. She had been chased away from her home and land by a local official. He claimed that she was living on land that was a path used by wild animals. When she resisted his orders to move, he caused her and her children, students in the final years of primary school, to be locked up. When freed, fearing further persecution from the official, her children ran away, leaving both their mother and school. They traveled to Mwanza on the Western side of the Serengeti where they remain working as night guards. Mr. Lowasa took the side of the women, directing that she be given back her home.
Another woman spoke of her daughter who had become pregnant. The young girl wanted very much to continue her education and applied to leaders on numerous occasions for their help. They always put her off. The prime minister was sympathetic, arranging there and then for her return to school and even giving her 50,000/=, about $47 to help her with the expenses of returning to school.
March 14, HUNGER CUTS OFF THE USE OF CORN FOR LOCAL BEER MAKING:
The rains have come and with a vengeance. But the hunger brought on by many months of drought is very much still with us. Corn that augments the meager milk supply of the Maasai has become very scarce indeed and ever more expensive. The Maasai people of the area have made the decision to ban the making and sale of local corn beer at the trading center of Endulen. It is amazing the volume of corn that is regularly used in the brewing of local beer. This decision will increase the corn that is available for food.
March 14, HAIL AND RAINSTORM:
A terrific hail storm with thunder, lightening and very heavy prolonged rain visited us with the intensity that hasn’t been seen since 1997. This was especially shocking since it came in the midst of the most serious drought that we’ve experience in many years. In Esirua and other places, beans that had been planted in anticipation of the coming rains were totally destroyed. The streams were so swollen that some wild animals like gazelle and many sheep and goats were carried away by the spate. It was a day to remember!
March 20, Row over bride price:
A meeting of two days decided, at least for now, the problem of bride price brought before the elders of the Endulen area. The daughter of OleTumate was taken to the village of Parkepo be his son’s wife. Parkepu agreed to pay eight cows for the bride. OleTumate agreed to the petition of the bridegroom that he receive only four of the eight cows and the rest would be used to build a house for the bride. Then later, the remaining four cows would be paid. But now, five years on, OleTumate has received nothing, not even the first four of the promised eight animals. OleTumate said at the meeting that if it had not been for the present intervention of elders, he would have already taken his daughter back to his village, since not only had the cows not been paid but no house had ever been built for his child.
The elders in the meeting begged OleTumate not to deprive the young man of his wife, even though the husband lacked the means to pay him anything even now, years after the marriage. The elders prevailed upon OleTumate to agree to wait seven more months to receive the bride payment for his daughter. During that time Parkepu and his son would call meeting of their clan to ask help in paying the bride price debt. Also, the elders of the meeting took up a collection to pay for the travel expenses of OleTumate back home to his village at Engamka.
Till next month,