Vol. 21, #9
As some of you have noticed, there has been no diary for a couple of months. I have been away in Kenya doing a course in the Maasai language. The course took place near the Maasai Mara game reserve. I am regularly surprised at how little I understand when people talk to each other and even often, when they are talking to me. The course was great…very intense…started at 7:30 each morning and went through without a break except for lunch to 4:30 in the afternoon. There were two teachers, Hans Stoks, a Dutchman with a strong grasp of the grammar and an ability to explain it in a very clear way. The other teacher was Paul Morero, a Maasai, who helped us with the spoken language, idioms and ways of saying things. His patience with us was above and beyond the call of duty. The late afternoons and evenings were spent on homework and class preparation for the next day. I think I got a lot out of it and will be able to study more efficiently on my own. Already, I am understanding more and talking more easily.
The monkeys there were a real problem. All doors and windows had to be kept closed at all times. If they found a way in, they would trash the place. They were all over the place and sometimes jumping on the roof of the classroom. Another feature of the area was the large numbers of elephants. One day a herd of goats got in their way and elephants killed thirty goats in the space of just a few minutes, just a hundred meters from our front door. We were cautioned not to go out at night.
This is the time of year that I travel with my Maasai students to various places for entrance exams to secondary and technical schools. We just finished a trip to Legaruki secondary school run by the Lutheran church. It looks like a great school and very well run. Among the seven I took for the exam three were accepted, two girls and one boy. The same Legaruki project has a technical school with courses in auto mechanics, electricity, and other subjects. I hope to take other students next week to take the entrance exams for the technical programs.
Three of My Maasai girls graduated from Teacher Training college in late October. The Maasai course prevented me from attending the graduation ceremony. I hated to miss it. These girls have now been posted to their first teaching positions by the government. Two will teach in the area of the Northern Serengeti and the third will be posted at a school in central Maasai. We need local teachers very badly. Most teachers in Maasai country come from other peoples and usually far away. Being posted in Maasai country where there is little variety in the way of food and other things available at the local shops and no distractions like newspapers, television etc. presents a real hardship for these teachers. Most of what they would have as a matter of course living near the towns is do not existent in Maasai country. I want to help as many of our Maasai young people as I can to get a teachers certificate. If anything is important to preventing exploitation and strengthening the sense of identity and dignity among the Maasai people, it must be education. The Maasai must get a voice on the councils that make decisions about them. Education enables the Maasai to take their place as equals on the policy-making bodies. Critical areas are land use and especially land alienation, water development, human and animal health and not least local government that is sensitive to the needs of the people. Education is key to taking leadership positions in all of these areas. We need to do everything we can to educate Maasai young people for the teaching profession.
Kenya Maasai girl at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh…story at:
Till next month,