Vol. 17, #10
Eighteen young Maasai of the Ngorongoro area, nine men and nine women, have been chosen to visit South Korea for a festival of the Martial Arts. They are scheduled to demonstrate the WAY of the Maasai
warrior. Using their shields, spears, short swords and knobkerries, they will act out cattle raids, saving Maasai damsels in distress, and protecting their herds from lions, leopards and the like. Among those
chosen for the trip, ten are graduates of our Osotwa Maasai Education Program here at Endulen Mission. During the next two weeks the eighteen will travel to Kenya where they will polish their skills with traditional Maasai weapons and strategies. Then on the 20th of this month, they’ll travel to Nairobi to board their flight for Korea and what promises to be the adventure of a lifetime. Needless to say, the young people are very excited.
(From The Maasai, by Hollis 1905)
Concerning the shields and spears of the Maasai Warriors:
The warriors’ shields are not all of one design; they differ. Each age group and sub-clan has its own design. In consequence, if the warriors meet an enemy, it is immediately known to what age group and sub-clan the different members of the war party belong. There are four markings for the shields, the red one, the black one, the ornamental one, and the one for bravery. Likewise with the spears, they are not all marked alike. If a spear is found, it can be ascertained by looking at the lower part to what age group and sub-clan the owner belongs.
Pakasi, one of my Prep school students, told me of the following incident that took place during his recent time at home during our semester break. He and two other boys, Kirinda and Lendapa were going downhill after climbing a very steep mountain far from their home village. The hillside was covered with shiny slate colored rocks that shown and shimmered in the mid day sun because of some kind of crystal chips embedded in them. We stumbled several times running down the hill, he told me. About halfway to the bottom Kirinda gave an anguished cry and fell. I’m dying he shouted – a snake. Lendapa and I ran over to Kirinda and there, a few feet from where he lay, was a very fat puff adder. We grabbed Kirinda by the hands and pulled him some distance away. Lendapa threw his stick at the snake and missed. I threw my spear; it caught the snake in the neck and pinned him to the ground. Lendapa easily finished him off, crushing his head with a big rock. Kirinda had been bitten in the ankle. I tied a strong cord below my friends knee as my father had taught me.
Lendapa, the son of a Maasai healer, drew the big knife he wore at his waist. He told me to hold Kirinda’s shoulders and press them to the ground. He sat on the boy’s thighs and held his legs firmly to the ground. Lendapa made small cuts around the area bitten by the snake. He unfastened a small piece of horn that he wore as an ornament from around his neck. He placed the horn on the wound and bled it by sucking the blood into his mouth. The horn was open at both ends and as Lendapa sucked it became full of blood, and a little went into his mouth. He spat. He did this several times. Then Lendapa ran off without saying a word. It scared me, but after a while he returned with some roots he had dug up. He pounded the roots against a rock, using his stick. He took the pounded roots and rubbed them on the bleeding wound.
Lendapa pounded other roots and put them in a gourd partly filled with water that we had with us. He shook the gourd, mixing well the crushed roots with the water, then opened Kirinda’s lips. His teeth were clenched. So he put some of the dark colored fluid through the opening in the boy’s lower set of teeth. Kirinda sneezed and the teeth unclenched. Kirinda opened his eyes and Ledapa made him drink some more of the fluid. “Now let him go”, Lendapa said. Kirinda was too weak to move. But Lendapa said that everything would be all right. “If he hadn’t sneezed, there would have been little hope,” he explained.
Lendapa picked Kirinda up and, carrying him over his shoulder, we set off for our village. We took turns carrying Kirinda and arrived home late in the evening. Kirinda was very sick for a number of days, but slowly
Till next month…