This past Wednesday I got back from a week on my own in Maasai Land. I was left in Suswa area (not very far from Narok), in the good care of Mama Florence. Mama Florence is the head teacher at Oltanki Primary School, a proud mother of four children and such a strong lady. She lives with two young girls that she recently rescued, and they have become her new found daughters. Chepkurui is between 4-5 years and was rescued from being abandoned and Naserian, 13 years old, was rescued from being married off by her father to an older man.
Mama Florence has two houses to live in, one traditional manyatta close to the school and another house on the other side of a hill, where she used to teach a while before. We spent the first night in the manyatta and I slept like a real Maasai on a bed made of wood with a dried skin upon. The rest of the week we slept in the other house and there we had something very luxury that almost no one else in the whole area has – electricity (even though the power went of quite often). There I also met Mama Benjamin, a wonderful woman related to Mama Florence. I named her after the little boy that she takes care of. The biological mother is a young single woman so Mama Benjamin takes care of her boy so she can complete school. I find it most admirable that these people, without any objections, decide to take care of someone else’s children. It’s really encouraging.
To get to the school from the other house we either walked over the hill, about 45 minutes, or we took a motorbike with our friend Mr. Chairman (we call him that because he’s the chairman of the school). Many of the children walk even longer distances to get to school in the mornings and then all the way back in the evenings.
The living standard is very low in average for people here. As I wrote earlier most people have no electricity. Most people uses a mobile fireplace with coals to make a fire and then heat up water and cook over it. And these actions often take place inside the house. The bath is a bucket with water and a soap. The toilet was a collective outhouse with a whole in the ground. In the night time if I was unlucky I got company of huge cockroaches when visiting the toilet. Then it became really inconvenient as I first had to use the torch from my cellphone to make sure that the black bug stopped chasing me around. And then I had to use the torch again to shine the light on it all the time to make sure it didn’t move until the visit was over. We also had the cockroaches in the house but smaller ones and when the mini-TV with the flickery screen stopped working, Mama Florence told me it was probably because the cockroaches was eating it up from the inside. It was not a joke as I naively first thought. Yes as You might start to realise, the bugs and also the smaller rats in the houses, they were the biggest challenges for me.
The food was basic and good as for example corn, potatoes, vegetables, fruits, beans and off course the favourite one – chapati. Meat is quite a luxury dish if I understood it right but that’s not a problem for me, I prefer not to eat it. During the week I got to help out a little with basic chores as preparing food, wash clothes and sweep the floor. It’s a very different way of living, challenging and harsh but also quite peaceful. The perception of time here, not merely in Maasai Land but also in average in Kenya, is another one from what I’m used to. Most of the times it has a relaxing impact on me. People are also very friendly and they do not hesitate to share their food or house with others, even with strangers as me. I got so many invitations from randomly people I met, to come and stay with and dine with them. I couldn’t accept all of them due to lack of time, but just the thought warmed my heart.
Not to forget, I also got some proposals of marriage and Mama Florence joked that she was tempted more than once to marry me off in exchange for some cows and goats. One young and humorous man that we had tea together with, told me in broken English that he would sell everything he had to buy me a helicopter – that’s sacrificing love! I refused that kind offer as politely as I could.
Oh, and I got my own Maasai name – Nashipae, it means a person who is ever happy. I’m really proud of my new name and very grateful for my new extra family members Mama Florence, Naserian, Chepkurui, Mama Benjamin and Benjamin himself.
I’ll write soon again and then I’ll tell You more about the school and other issues that I came across during my visit in Maasai Land.