Maasai Oral Histories
The Maasai Oral Histories Project aims to record and archive Maasai oral histories, myths, rituals, stories, laws, and beliefs, which are traditionally passed on by senior elders.
Maasai Perspective
Regina Nakola
01/09/2005, Sekenani and Olchurrai Village, Narok, Kenya

Maasai Oral Histories Project
Field Journal, Sunday, January 9, 2005
By Regina Nakola

This is our third day in Maasai land. Sunday is a resting day hence we spend part of the day travelling to Kichwa Tembo for more interviews with the elders, women and school children. It was an exciting Safari seeing great numbers of wild animals but a lot awaits to be done.

As an educated Maasai lady, brought up at a village and went to urban schools, I feel it is worth carrying out this project and hope it will be successful for our future generations. Most of the educated Maasai people live two lives; city life and village life. City life is more busy with a lot of facilities, nice schools and advanced technology whilst in the village, life remain quiet and calm.

My three days experience interacting with the team from the USA and visiting a village and a school at Sekenani was quite good. We had an elder at Sekenani School who had to narrate a story to the children but it turned out to be more of a lecture. But never mind, that was just the beginning! The children were shy asking questions but they later opened up and brought up some questions for the students in the USA. It is a real rural area where children don't live a city life. They still speak Maa at home and while interacting with other children, and the official languages - English (slight) and Swahili in their classrooms.

Our second interview on Saturday was at Olchurra village. We divided ourselves into two groups, men went their way interviewing men and the female team went to interview women. This is done purposely because women in Maasai society are not allowed to interview men. My counterpart, Ilana Pearlman, was dressed in Maasai clothes and it seemed they were interested to be near her! We met women and had to organise and get an elderly lady to give us some stories. It was a little amazing because young men were more interested in joining to listen the women interviews than joining the elder. We had a difficult time at the beginning moving them away but they understood and left.

We interviewed a 70 year old lady who had a family of thirteen children, most of them married and the rest at school. She understands the importance of education and prefers to have all her grandchildren educated. We asked her questions about the past and she believed that all they had was lost because they were not educated. She knew little about the colonial periods but had a lot to say about the rites of passage, sacrificial ceremonies, and telling stories. The most fascinating topic for me was about health; the role of traditional birth attendants (women doctors) and herbal medication. We had to have a break for a short while because she had to call her co-wife to bring her tobacco to chew. It was a little tedious to keep reminding her to not answer 'a question with a question' and using Maasai physical expressions because not everyone understood that it was a recording session. She did this because she knew I am Maasai!

In general, I am proud to say that Maasai are very good and welcoming people. I am not praising my community but that is the reality. One of our team members, Caroline, was lured by this; she dissappeared into one of the Kraals and it was had to get her out .
If we had never found her, she would have been accommodated at the village -- and I am sure would have enjoyed it!