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.
Visit to Aitong' Primary School
Maasai Oral Histories Team
01/13/2005, Aitong', Kenya

Section l
The Story About Mau Mau

Elder Ole Maitai asked the students if they had any idea about the Mau Mau?

The students answered that they only had learned about it in school but they don't know how it started.

Ole Maitai was still youthful and in Moranism when Mau Mau started. By the time they were about to get out of Moranism they heard about the fight between the Kikuyu and the white men.

They discussed if they should join the fight with the Kikuyu but most of us refused. The Mau Mau got into Maasai community and attacked them and stole many cattle.

At some stage, they had managed to get all over Maasailand and when they got into Purko land they met a young boy looking after the animals and stole more cows. They also found a Maasai woman and got away with her. The Maasai then set off to find their lost cow and the woman.

They found the footsteps and where the Mau Mau ate the Maasai cattle. It still took many days to find where they (thieves) were but they did not give up.

They finally found the cattle and therefore started fighting. It was a tough war because five Maasai morans were injured and one killed. They returned with all their cows.

The Mau Mau still came and took some Maasai property but they started showing signs of defeat. The English government was also involved in looking for the Mau Mau and killing them.

Questions from students:

Q. What was the meaning of the mau mau fighting?

A. The Kikuyu wanted to rule over the whole of Kenya. They also wanted the Maasai to join them in chasing away the English so they could rule the whole country.

Q. Where did the maasai live during the time of Mau Mau?

A. They lived near Lemek but joined with the Maasai morans all over from Kenya and Tanzania during this fight to protect themselves.

....To be continued

Section ll
Maasai Oral Histories Project
Field Journal, January 13, 2005
By Danielle Chavanon

Today we went to Aitong Primary School up on a plateau overlooking the Maasai Mara Park. We crossed a private animal reserve with many zebras, wildebeest, elands and gazelles. The school was nicely landscaped, surrounded by a fence so the animals do not destroy the vegetation. Dormitories were under construction, so the children who live up to 50 kilometers away, can in future sleep at school. Nowadays, those who live far have made arrangements to stay with relatives or friends
Like the other two schools we visited, the buildings are inscribed with mottos like: "Reward is after hard work' or "education is life".

The Elder, Ole Maitai, a man in his '70s, was dressed with the traditional blanket, called oichiti. Whereas the other elders we listened to wore nothing below their colorful blankets, Ole Maitai wore a raincoat and a cloth called enaga. around his wrist he was wearing a bracelet called olkataar, passed from father to son. He was very animated, told interesting stories, which fascinated the children who asked him many questions. At 12:45 a bell rang, children were leaving for lunch, but in our classroom the students kept on listening attentively. I could not understand, as I don't speak Maasai. I was eager to know what the stories were to understand their interest. I learned later they were about warriors, the Elder's experience with a lion.

This is my last school visit as I am leaving Kenya on Saturday. I am taking away with me great respect for the students. They must walk to school by any weather, they have little but are eager to explore and learn. I will never forget the smiles on their faces when for the first time in their life they discovered a computer and saw their pictures on iPhoto. What a privilege to witness such a moment in a young life.