A Week on the Maasai Mara

Camping in the School

Camping in the School

I had arranged with Daniel, a taxi driver who lives in Ngoswani, (the nearest shops to Justus’s village) to pick me up at 10.00, Kenya time made it 11.30, but I enjoyed watching the people of Narok go about their day while I waited, I think as much as they enjoyed watching me. We collected the water etc, at the supermarket, picked up the tools at the hardware and then my stuff from the hotel and set off.

The trip didn’t seem to take as long this time and when we arrived in Ngoswani Daniel showed me his enclosure and home before heading up to Kisher-Moruak and the unfinished school where I will camp. There was a steady stream of women and children coming to greet me during the afternoon including Florence (Justus’s wife) and Rose, all were happy to see me again and were concerned at me being alone in the school, although it had stone walls and a door that shut and they were only 100mtrs away and so I felt ok.

The first of the men I met was Moses, who said he was the chief of the village and chairman of the school leaders, Justus disagrees with this and had asked me to be careful around him as he is a greedy person, always for himself, I shall have to find out for myself. Moses certainly had lots of things he wanted to achieve for the school and asked me if the tools I had bought with me were a donation for the school. He had some good ideas, but I don’t know his motives yet and Justus has made me be on my guard.

The village is divided into three family compounds, each a brother and in their 60’s, their children, and grandchildren. The sheep and goats are in the inner compound and then the cattle and finally the homes around the perimeter. As the men returned home in the evening, there seemed to be an endless stream of cattle (I counted over 100 in one herd), goats and sheep and indeed if the prices I have been told the animals are worth then Justus’s uncle is quite rich in comparison with Javan. Of course all this has to be put into perspective, for the Maasai this is money in the bank for buying food, clothes, medicine, etc, for without the animals they would have to leave the land. Whereas Javan’s village only had a few cattle, but richer land to grow food and surplus to sell and with good rain at least twice a year, I know which one I would chose.

Gathering the animals

Gathering the animals

The men of the Maasai tell me they are having to travel further each day now to graze the animals and will do until the next rains, maybe in September and the ground is hard and dry. I have tried to get across the message that they are part of the cause of the problem, having so many animals keeps the flora so close to the ground and then allowing the wind and sun to dry out the land, but I don’t think I am being understood or not explaining properly or that English isn’t there language or even they don’t want to hear.

When I look across the plains and the different villages dotted around, all with herds of animals that are grazing the land, then add to that the Wildebeest, Zebra and Antelope, there isn’t much hope of life improving for the Maasai. But life will change for them though; it is being subtly being forced upon them as the government have given each man in the village 30 acres, which is maybe 300 acres for Justus’s village, but what is that in grazing terms for the year, not very much for the amount of animals they have. The effect is already starting to be noticed, some fences are now being erected in places which is restricting grazing, and Justus has told me of young men in other villages selling their land for cash and spending it on cars and women with no thought of what happens when the money runs out. Apparently, the rich and famous, including politicians are purchasing the land as an investment; ironically the roads to the Maasai Mara are being improved.

My first night was very eerie, I could hear wildebeest snorting and many other strange noises I couldn’t identify, may be lions or was it the goats with a cough, either way I didn’t feel as secure with the pine door that was between me and the darkness. The fear passed with my prayers and I drifted off asleep.

It was so nice to wake up with the sun; in Nairobi it was always cloudy and cold first thing. I sat in the sun and was amazed by the sound of so many small birds with so little cover for them, I don’t think they have many predators; the cats here are after bigger stuff. I watched the animals emerge from the compounds with both men and women organising them in different directions ready to head out for the days forage.

I began the process of starting a small waterless garden (3x2mtrs), boy the ground is solid with only 75mm of topsoil, beneath that is decomposed granite, very dense and the only way through is with a crow bar. Over the next few days I gradually dug a 150mm pit and edged it with some boards they had used for concreting and then lined it with the plastic I had bought with me, back filled it with cow and sheep dung, mixed together with the soil I had removed. As there was no mulch to be had I laid another layer of plastic on top to help conserve any water that is put on the garden and reduce possible regrowth. With hessian I had I made a good temporary fence and it will slow down the strong afternoon winds.

Experimental garden

Experimental garden

Peter (one of Justus’s uncles) was very interested in what I was doing, but not as much as the children, I felt like the ‘pied piper’ sometimes as they followed me up and down collecting the manure, chatting away at each other and then giggling when I made a remark. The little booklet I had made at Jenni H’s workshop was put to good use with them and they understood what I was doing and they happily showed other children as they came home from school. When I return I will bring paper and pens so they can draw their own.

Monday morning Rose was going to go to the school in Ngoswani and I accompanied  her on this her daily trek, it turns out that when they talk about a 10k walk it is the return journey, but still along way for anybody, let alone young children to go to school, which they do. We reach the road (about half way) and the trucks and safari vehicles race past creating huge amounts of dust, so you might start your day fresh and clean, but by the time you get to where you are going, well you can guess. She left me with Mohammed, a shop owner who sold maize, sugar, soda, a few different canned goods and water containers. He transferred 100kes of phone credit for me and showed me to the barbers shop where I could get my phone charged, its amazing, this is were everyone get their phone and spare battery charged. He has two 85amp hour batteries charged by solar and is the communications center for many kilometers around and as it was a market day he was busy with phones and haircuts. As I walked around this isolated small town I soon found out that most of the little shops all sold the same things, apart from one selling hardware and two repairing tyres.

Me watching Wildebeest and them watching me

Me watching Wildebeest and them watching me

Three hours later I started the walk back to the village and it wasn’t until I left the road that I realised that I was alone, walking across the plains of the Maasai Mara. I told myself that children and Rose do it daily, but it didn’t help, I was a little scared hastily looking around for lions. It was an awesome sensation walking into a herd of wildebeest and gazelles, who saw me and split up either side of the track stopping at a respectable distance from me, just incredible and of course if there were loins around they would have been long gone, such comfort and I felt the privilege of being in this place and with these animals God created. The hill above the village got closer and going through the last of the short scrub hurried my pace and soon arrived in the village that was asleep in the heat of the sun, they curl up under the shade of the few trees and sleep, chat and just be.

It would be good to put a fence around the school and Moses had alluded to that,  he said fencing 10,000sq mtrs would cost about $500, a good project as it would enable the land to regenerate and then  allow the children to see what can happen to God’s garden if we allow it. Then during the wet season, fertility pits and swales can be dug unless a machine can be brought in to prepare the land before it rains. The only real problem is mulch and I think it will have to be grown as the animals have eaten anything taller than a few millimetres and the Maasai collect all the available wood for their fires, the only bonus is heaps of manure, but even that is a resource for the Maasai.

Moses would visit each morning enquiring what I was going to do, I always said research and report which seemed to frustrate him a little, he really wants me to commit. I meet James today, another cousin who is a school teacher and is away all week, a very soft and gentle man who’s English is better than mine, but unfortunately I didn’t get to much time with him as he was only home for the day. He teaches science, Swahili and religious studies at a boy’s boarding school some 20k away and is one of four men who work away from the village.

My right leg is still aching, so I still don’t want to go to that man anger place and God’s Law of Attraction has bought me Moses and James, both fears, one about speaking honestly to an angry man and the other about speaking about Divine Truth to someone who might judge me as crazy. I don’t seem to recognise the immediate LOA and when reflecting later find the opportunity passed, but I shall see them both again when I return and will face those fears then. I feel a lot better in myself now, more comfortable after my short master cleanse, it was short because I had no lemons and was using limes, which half of them turned out to be small oranges.

I made arrangements with Daniel to take me to Narok which he did and this time had his wife Susan with him who asked if she could have a lift into Narok in very good english. The hotel was fully booked so Daniel took me to the Matatu stand and I was on my way back to Nairobi and the Wildebeest Eco Camp and arrived early in the afternoon. It was so good to have a shower and wash some clothes; I will have a shave tomorrow.

The next day I decided to spoil myself with a deep tissue massage, my skin just soaked up the oil and massage was awesome and with Kenny G playing in the background I really spoilt myself. I bought lots of fruit and coconut cream, some salad stuff, how much I have missed loving me.

I have spoken to Pastor Michael and we are going to meet in Nyahururu on Monday or Tuesday, three hours north of Nairobi and four hours south of his village. So the weekend is ahead of me.

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2 thoughts on “A Week on the Maasai Mara

  1. My heart is so touched by reading your post.Loving yourself brings you so much closer to God and to your brothers and sisters.Lots of Love Christi

  2. I think it is wonderful that you are bringing them knowledge of how to regenerate the land around them. Praying that it is successful and that they take it on and run with it.
    love,
    Teresa

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