Vol. 14, #10
Warriors of two age groups clash:
About five thirty this morning there came loud knocking at the front door. I had just gotten off my stepper exercise machine and was in the shower. I put on a robe and, opening the front door, found a woman from a Maasai village some five miles from Endulen in hysterics standing before me. After getting her to sit down and calm down a little, she told me that her son, a member of the new age group was just attacked by an older warrior and speared. The fight was still going on, and she didn’t know whether or not he was still alive. Would I take her to the local police post to get help in stopping the imminent murder of her son.
I pulled on a pair of pants and a shirt and off we went to wake up the constable. He agreed to come, grabbed his rifle and we headed for her village cross country, there being no roads or even a car track in that direction. We arrived at the village to find a meeting of all the elders of the area in progress. They had pulled the protagonists apart and were beginning to discuss what to do next. When we pulled up, they were very angry at the woman for having gone to the police, since it turned out the boy was not speared but hit over the head with a knobkerrie, a short stick with a vicious knob at one end. He was gashed to the bone that glittered in the morning sunlight, but was in no danger of death.
The elders had quite a challenge before them. First of all the warriors involved were of two different age groups. The fight had been over the wife of the older warrior. the younger had met her secretly in the bush had had been surprised by her husband in somewhat embarrassing circumstances. In Maasai country, age groups that follow each other are natural enemies. When the older age group retires, they never do so willingly. The younger boys “force” their fathers to open the new age group by pressure of various kinds. They move around in large groups standing outside the home villages of important men among their father’s age group. They sing for hours on end waiting to get a hearing. This process goes on for a couple of years slowly wearing their fathers down. As time goes on it becomes apparent to the fathers that their sons are not going “go away” and also their sons are getting older and the time to open a new age group has come. For various reason, not least among them being that the warriors have exclusive rights to serenade the young girls, The active warriors want no part of retirement. They ambush the boys and beat them up at the slightest provocation. Facing the prospect of dull elder-hood, settling down with a wife and children, no more traveling around to celebrations to dance and sing with the girls, is almost to much to bear.
Now we have a boy from the new age group taking a mistress from among the wives of the retiring warriors, their recent enemies. It is no wonder that the husband was ready to kill. Each warrior, active and newly retired, was armed with a spear, sword and knobkerrie, This was why as soon as the fight began, the boys mother took off at a run to get help.
But that is only the beginning of the complications that the elders must deal with. The co-wife of the older warrior’s wife who became the mistress of the younger warrior is the younger warrior’s sister. Also the young warriors older brother’s wife is the sister of the wronged husband. …a real can of worms….The elders are going to having fun sorting this one out.
Sukuma warriors raid the Endulen herds:
Fifty Sukuma warrior from the West of the Serengeti raided herds of Maasai sheep and goats near Endulen this week. Many of them had rifles and the herd kids did the intelligent thing, ran away into the bush. The two thousand goat strong herd of OleRinya was among the herds taken. Our modern thinking Maasai warrior age group immediately came to the village and borrowed two Ngorongoro Conservation cars to chase the rustlers, who had about a six hour start. The Maasai cars, trailing mile long tails of dust, caught up with them far out on the Serengeti. By then the goats and sheep had all but died from exhaustion and most were rounded up, with the rustlers dissolving into the bush. This was a bad time of year to raid for goats. They are very thin and many are pregnant in anticipation of the rains that should begin any time now. Goats are bad trekkers in the best of times and tire very easily, but are especially weak at this time of year.
Pakai OloNyokie reelected:
The Head Teacher of our Osotwa Maasai Prep school here on the mission has been reelected as chairman of Endulen village. He got 943 votes, the second one in the running got 102 and the trailing candidate got 20 votes. It was an acrimonious race filled with slurs and personal accusations of all kinds. I guess politics is the same the world over.