The Worlds of a Maasai Warrior

The Worlds of a Maasai Warrior

Saitoti, Tepilit Ole

1986

Book ID 227

See also

Saitoti, Tepilit Ole The Worlds of a Maasai Warrior, 1986

After five months, Myles Turner, . . .

'After five months, Myles Turner, the ranger boss who drove the Land Rover field force one, discovered that I spoke English and Kiswahili and could help him to translate memoranda from the head office at Arusha or other government agencies. Although he was born and raised in Kenya and was a former hunter turned game warden, he spoke Kiswahili but could not write it, like most Kenyan cowboys. He spoke kitchen Kiswahili with an imperious attitude; he could say phrases such as kuja hapa (come here), wewe naseme nini? (what did you say?), na wewe mukora tu (you hoodlam), and his favourite kai ya Mungu (God's truth), a phrase many rangers liked him for. Such simplistic phrases were not very practical in the Tanzanian bureaucracy. Kiswahili is Tanzania's national language and the people speak it well.

I had to salute Myles Turner whenever he can into the office, as did all the rangers, and he loved it. He knew I did not like to, but I had to play the game. As long as I did, my resentment did not bother him a bit. ...

Myles Turner, like most colonial whites, respected the Maasai more than other Africans. Perhaps he found the blunt Maasai sincerity and of course bravery admirable. ...'

Extract ID: 1047

See also

Saitoti, Tepilit Ole The Worlds of a Maasai Warrior, 1986

In the year 1966

In the year 1966, God, who my people believe dwells in this holy mountain, unleashed Her fury unsparingly. The mountain thunder shook the earth and the volcanic flame, which came from deep down in the earth's crust, was like a continuous flash of lightning. During days when the eruption was most powerful, clouds of smoke and steam appeared. Many cattle died and still more would die. Poisonous volcanic ash spewed all over the land as far as a hundred miles away, completely covering the pastures and the leaves of trees. Cattle swallowed ash each time they tried to graze and were weakened. They could not wake up without human assistance. We had to carry long wooden staffs to put under the fallen animals to lift them up.

There must have been more than enough reason for God to have unleashed Her anger on us, and all we could do was pray for mercy. My pastoral people stubbornly braved the gusting warm winds as they approached the flaming mountain to pray. Women and men dressed in their best walked in stately lines towards God, singing.

The mountain was unappeased and cattle died in the thousands. Just before the people started dying too, my father decided to move; as he put it, 'We must move while we still have children, or else we will all lose them.'

Extract ID: 761
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