Francis: The Maasai village life is very interesting. We wake up in the morning to a warm sun. Without any bathing water, we fend for the little water available to at least wash our faces and then the men start their daily chores: fending for food, looking after our few animals remaining after the scorching drought. Pasture is far away so we start early. We move deep in the ‘forest’ that is far away as our area has been turned into a semi-desert. As this is very trying, we sing our traditional songs along the way. These songs are very moving as they capture all areas of our lives, including God, and life goes on. Our women! God bless them. They travel unbelievably long distances in search of water. Their chores abound: milking, taking care of children, fetching water and firewood, and building houses just to mention but a few.
A4A: What do you like most about your community?
Francis: I love everything about our culture, the traditional dances, the ceremonies that cover every area of our life: conception, birth, naming, ‘Moranism’, initiation, marriage and death.
A4A: How do you currently get clean water for the village and school? Do you have to travel long distances?
Francis: Once you mention water, clean or unclean, what comes to my mind is long distance. Looking for water becomes work. I think this is what makes us live in times of yore because we spend so much time looking for water for our animals and for our own consumption that we have no strength left for anything else.
A4A: How would a well for drinking water improve life in your village?
Francis: This is the answer to our problems. This would make us rich and innovative for we spend so much time looking for water that we have no energy left for anything else. Lack of clean water leads to loss of life brought about by water-born diseases.
A4A: Please share with us the current conditions of your village school, and why it is important to have a new school.
Francis: The school is congested and lacking facilities. The pupil/teacher ration ratio is appalling. The school is in a state of want in almost every area. What we have in plenty are children to fill the schools. The long distance between our schools discourages our children from going to school at a young age.
A4A: What impact would a new school have on the kids, the parents and the village?
Francis: The school would change our lives and make us competitive with other Kenyans in the job market. It would provide jobs for our own people and life would be different with our own school. Parents would take their true place in the society and the children would learn to be children again.
A4A: What other educational projects do you hope for in the future?
- College for our children
- Our children travelling out of our own zone to see what happens elsewhere and people from elsewhere coming to us to provide new ideas
- Vocational training for those who are not academically gifted
- Education and empowerment for young girls
A4A: Could you describe the 'Day in the Life of a Maasai Warrior' for us?
Francis: The young candidate for initiation putting on a black 'shuka', traditionally called osikoliei, seeks permission for initiation for circumcision called an enkipata ceremony. After it is granted, on the initiation eve a bull - orkiteng lendomono - slaughterd for both and men and women but warriors do not eat. Warm water is put in a basin and filled with metallic items and left to cool overnight.
This water will be used the following day to anaesthetize the initiate. The following day those in your age set sing you encouragement songs in the evening and the next morning. Before the initiate sits on the hide ready for the act, he is made to either jump over a the knife which will cut him if he has never had sex with a woman who is circumcised which is a taboo or if he has, then he would have to walk round the knife meaning that he has had sex with a circumcised woman. This would attract a double charge. Early in the morning the water mentioned above is poured on the initiate to numb him after is brought out from the hut and seated on a hide to the right side of the gate facing the open field outside. An elder holds the initiate around the waste gently as the traditional circumciser diligently performs the operation. After this the initiate is now dragged back into the hut where he is fed on blood till he heals.
After this you are a warrior. As one, you live in a community of at least five warriors so that you learn community life. This is so that the rich and the poor would live amicably together.
A warrior takes care of the herds, feeding them and watering them. Sometimes they fight wild animals like as the lion. Killing a lion makes you an outright hero. A lion which kills any of our animals makes itself easily target.
In the evening, the warriors all meet together and sing and dance to love songs in the company of girls.
A4A: How would you envision the future of your village and community? What changes and projects do you hope for in the future?
- A market for our artifacts
- An orphanage
A4A: Anything else you would like to share?
Francis: We have great concern for orphans and vulnerable children together with widows occasioned by the scourge of HIV/aids.