Vol. 20, #7
Puff Adder…a close call…
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. 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 word 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 was all right. “If he hadn’t sneezed, there would have been little hope,” he explained.
He picked up Kirinda, 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 got well.
My name is Parkepu Olenakuroy and I was born in 1984 in Ndean area of Ngorongoro. My people are the Maasai. I am last born of my mother, and also the last born of all of all of my father’s four wives. My father is Alaigwanani, the leader and spokesman of his age group in our Maasai pastoral society. Although he was an important leader of Maasai society, he had no use for education. My father was forced by the Tanzania government to send me to school. I started primary school in 1991 at Endulen primary school here in the Conservation area of Ngorongoro Crater. Finishing grade school in 1997, l joined Osotua Prep School and spent two years, 1998 and 1999 preparing for secondary school entrance exams under the direction of Fr Ned. In 2000 I entered Arusha Catholic Seminary or Oldonyo Sambu Seminary. I did my “O” level studies i.e. form one to form four in Seminary and graduated from high school in 2003. After graduation, I went home to Ngorongoro and the village of my father for three months to wait for the results of the Form four examinations. In February of 2004, the national examination Council of Tanzania had announced the results, but I knew before that God would help me get through my final exams. I was praying hard and God heard my crying. It turned out that I was among the students in Tanzania who scored division three. After the results being announced, l went to check the list of students that the government had selected to enter Form IV (junior college). l was not selected. I talked it over with Fr. Ned and we decided to look for a place in a private secondary school. Off I went to Rombo on Mount Kilimanjaro to apply for a place at Kilimanjaro Boys High School. I started my “A” level studies (Form 5 & 6) at Kilimanjaro Boys on 15th July 2004. The fees at my school are very expensive, but Fr Ned continuous to support me. I expect to complete Form Six in February next year (2006). I do always pray hard and study harder and request God to grant Fr. Ned and those who help him long life that they may continue to help Maasai society. My people have been marginalized, especially with regard to education. Education is the key to the liberation of human beings in general and the Maasai people specifically. Moreover, my goal is to become is to do environmentalist studies. I continue to pray that God to grant me the strength to persevere in my studies and eventually to be of some use to my people, the pastoral Maasai. I remain always yours, Parkepu. S. Olenakuroy.
Till next month….Ned