Vol. 20, #9
There are a lot of buffalo around Endulen these days. From time to time people and buff’s get in the way of each other. There was an especially bad attack three weeks ago when a woman, Totaiyo Enololejumweiya was drawing water at the Oldogom, the spring fed stream that winds its’ way through Endulen village. Unfortunately she was alone, an unusual situation. Usually women go to draw water in groups making a dreary chore into a social gathering marked by sharing their family news and enjoying each others company. Totaiyo was alone and the buffalo was hidden in the heavy bush bordering the stream. He surprised her as she filled her recycled plastic cooking oil container in the stream. She was gored in the chest, face and knee. Totaiyo saved herself by laying flat on her stomach and holding on to the grass. After the initial attack, the buffalo moved off and the woman survived.
Noontomon loses out…
These days I’m quite concerned about three children, two little girls with destroyed leg tendons and one older boy of about sixteen with what looks like a bone infection. The boy arrived here at Endulen with his mother a couple of days ago. The wound, just above the knee, looks like it had healed and reopened any number of times. At the moment it is open and very nasty. At first, his mother explained, the wound just didn’t look serious enough to travel the many miles to the hospital, then later whatever help was gotten was to little to late. Now the wound has clearly gone very deep. I will take them, he and his mother, to the hospital, but things don’t look for him.
The girls are both from the same Maasai village down on the plains at Olbalbal. Noontomon, the older of the two was pierced in the knee with a thorn about a year and a half ago. Nothing was done. Her mother, husband dead and she very poor, didn’t have the means to take Noontomon to the hospital. The wound was left to fester over a number of weeks, and when she finally did get to the hospital in Endulen, it was too late. The tendon was destroyed. The knee has healed, but she will always walk with a limp. She now stays at our place and attends first grade at the local government school. It is hard to tell what her future will be. After a recent gathering of the church in that area, and while visiting Noontomon’s family, I notice a small girl of about six years limping around. I was told that another child hit her in the leg with a stick while playing. The same thing developed as had with Noontomon, only this second little girl had never been taken to the hospital. Her leg healed but she will hobble around for life, dragging her tendon less leg along behind her. I don’t know how the people could have neglected her seeing what had happened to Noontomon.
Morning in a Maasai encampment…
When the morning star appears the people of Maasai know that it has dawned. At this time it is still night, although the chill of the morning spreads across the plains. The Maasai say that it is the time of the buffalo. Then when it begins to get light they say that the whiteness has gone round. Now the tending of the cattle begins. Women begin with the milking. When the women and girls have finished milking they call the shepherds to drink milk so they may get ready to drive the cattle to pasture. When milking is finished, the children separate the calves so that they won’t follow their mothers to pasture.
During the rains the cattle they don’t drive the cattle far for pasture. The women open the gates of the village and the cattle stand and lay down outside. The elders look the cattle over to see if there are any sick or lame among them. While the cattle are lying down outside the village enclosure, the men sit around the open air fireplace warming themselves and discussing the news.
Families that have sheep have more work than those with only cattle. Sheep need to have their enclosure cleaned to prevent disease. The Maasai build strong fences for them because they are the favored meal of nocturnal prowling leopards. In areas where leopards are numerous, they build a guard hut and the warrior who watches there needs enough firewood to last the night. Shepherds do not take the sheep and goats to pasture till the sun burns off the dew. The children tend the sheep so that they do not wander away. The elders look over the sheep carefully, treating the tame ones and others who are ill. They brand and earmark the lambs. The owners go around pulling off ticks and sewing aprons on the rams yet to be castrated. Warriors fit the castrated rams with collars and bells.
In wet years the men drive the cattle to pasture at the crack of dawn while the dew still lies on the ground. When the dew begins to disappear, the shepherds drive the cattle back home and women and girls milk them. If the cattle are very thin and find new grass, their stomachs swell and some may die. There are some people who know how to effectively treat this condition.
It is in the morning during the rains women of collect fresh dung for plastering the huts. Sometimes a woman does not use up the dung she collected in the morning and leaves it lying around. Some say that if cows find it on their return from pasture, the dung will hate her calves and the best one may die. When it rains a lot, then a great deal of mud enters the villages and maggots with tails get into the mud and the village “goes bad”. When a village “goes bad,” the people build a new one.
After the shepherds drive the cattle, sheep and goats to pasture, the women get a break. Many sit basking in the early day sun sewing their skin skirts or making bead jewelry. Later when the sun is overhead, one does not work much. The women move into the shade to do their hand work and talk together. Others go into their huts to rest.
Till next month….Ned