Vol. 20, #8
October 22nd… Osotua Prep girl graduates Law School…
Seyanoi EnoloLaisinet graduated from Tumaini University at Iringa on October 22nd. She is the first Maasai girl from Endulen Ngorongoro to graduate from university and the first Maasai woman that I know of, to become a lawyer. Thirteen of our Osotua Maasai Prep School girls from Endulen traveled with me to the graduation. It was quite a trip. Iringa in the South of Tanzania is a 1,500 mile round trip from Ngorongoro.
Fourteen of us crowded into our Toyota Land Cruiser and off we went. Given the narrow two lane roads here where one must constantly dodge huge long-haul buses and 18 wheelers, it was a nerve racking four day trip. Rocketing buses and trucks come at you from the front and others are frantically looking to pass from the rear. At the same time bicycles and foot traffic on the shoulder make for constant threats. At one point a passenger car trying to pass a bus was caught in the on-coming lane with traffic coming head on. The driver was forced to take to the ditch. Amazingly no one was badly hurt. Keeping alert and safe hour after hour of this kind of driving was quite a challenge.
For the thirteen Maasai girls, never having traveled away from Maasai country at Ngorongoro, it was a tremendous adventure. In some areas, coffee farms and sisal plantations stretching as far as the eye can see, were visions from another world. Then there were banana trees, palm trees and so many other things never before seen. The girls commented on the lack of cattle, once we left Maasai Country. “How do these people manage without cattle?” We stopped frequently along the way at roadside kiosks for tea and chapatti and for soda and cookies.
Tumaini University is a Lutheran school and Seyanoi has been helped by sponsors found for her by the Lutheran Church during her university education. Her secondary education was also supported by sponsors the Lutheran Church found for her. Lutherans are doing wonderful work in the area of education here in Tanzania and particularly in Maasai country.
The graduation was great. Our Maasai girls were inspired by Seyanoi’s accomplishment. Hopefully they will be encouraged in their own efforts to get an education. As we placed the flowered circles around Seyanoi’s neck and gave her our gifts, she was clearly overjoyed to have so many of her friends from Ngorongoro with her. It is hard to get used to the idea that one of our own Osotua Prep girls is now a lawyer.
The Oreteti tree…
Often our meetings with the people take place under a shade tree that is central to the villages in a particular area. It eases the burden of hospitality that would otherwise fall on a particular village to host our gatherings. Often we meet near or in the shade of an Oreteti tree. This is a tree sacred to the Maasai. The Oreteti are beautiful large leafy shade trees without thorns. Whenever a passing one of these trees, the Maasai stop to say a short prayer for a sick family member to ask God’s blessing on their herds. The people often leave a small offering in the branches; a bunch of green grass, a small bracelet, or a string of beads to emphasis their prayer. These trees have had this function of being sacred places for hundreds of years, so it seems fitting that we should join the tradition of praying in the shade of the Oreteti tree that is a special sign of God’s presence for the Maasai.
Late this afternoon I went with some of our students to cut firewood in the forest above Endulen. We go about once a week to fill our small trailer with firewood that we pull behind the land cruiser. A chain saw acquired about a year ago makes things much easier. On the way down the mountain the sun was just setting and the sky was a deep red. Against the background of the sunset appeared a herd of more than twenty eland startled by the noise of the passing car. These are the largest and heaviest of the antelopes and can weigh up to a ton and stand up to six feet at the shoulder. The herd of huge animals passed in front of us bounding along like a herd of seventy pound impala. It was an awesome sight. We stopped the car and watched them till they disappeared into the bush.
Till next month….Ned