The “olbalbal” fills

With the coming of the rains, the Olbalbal depression is fast filling with rain water. It is a small lake in the desert where the Maasai herds will drink for months to come. A meaning of the Maasai word “Olbalbal” is “a temporary lake”. In drought years the “Olbalbal” does not fill and people must move into the hill country to find water for their herds of cattle and goats. In those times, Olbalbal area becomes pretty much deserted, except for a few shop keepers and others who for one reason or another cannot move.

The seasons and the ever changing condition of the land dictate much in Maasai life. They are a pastoral people, so the two powerful lynchpins of their survival, water and grass, dictate most of the important decisions of their everyday living. Often the complaint is heard: “Why don’t the Maasai settle down? If they would only forgo their love of the semi-nomadic life style, they could have good schools and medical care and other important services.” It is frequently overlooked that the Maasai don’t love moving, with its´ disruptions. They move because of the need to find good grass and water for their herds. The fact of their being a pastoral people dictates that they live in harmony with their environment and to wrestle out of this harsh land the means of survival. That said, I am hoping that the day is far off when everyone moves away and I’m all by myself.

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