When the date of graduation of Naish’enkai from Secondary school was announced I was excited. It has been a long and sometimes frustrating project to support her education through primary school and finally for the four years of high school. She has not been a top student by any means and often found herself hanging on by a thread because of poor exam results. Naish’enkai herself has always been strong in her determination to stay in school. I always encouraged her and continued to support her efforts because, even if she was not able to go on for a professional career, her education would be prove invaluable for a life as a traditional Maasai wife and mother. Her understanding of math and fluency in the national language would enable her to deal as an equal at the trading centers frequented by Maasai people to fulfill their needs. As it turned out, she did not do well academically but she graduated and it was clearly one of the happiest days of her life.
The graduation itself took place at her school, Mbarwai Secondary School. I made the one-hour and a half trip to the school near Endulen with my gift of an umbrella and a cell phone. We arrived at the appointed hour and met the glowing Naish’enkai lined up with her classmates to receive her diploma. The ceremonies began four hours late. We all waited in the hot sun for the important guests to arrive. They were clearly in no hurry to get there and the ceremonies only got going late in the afternoon. Getting an important job in government or Conservation seems to cause people to become totally insensitive to the ordinary people. Many older people, parents of the graduates, had walked many miles to attend the celebration. They now would be walking most of the way home in the dark, a dangerous thing to do in our country populated by Cape buffalo and elephants.