July 13, 1987

7/13/87 Nguruman Escarpment

campsite near Entesekera

Last night after getting to camp, we set off following Daniel to his boma. I was very comfortable since I’d already been in several bomas. But it was a new experience for Mike and Maria. As with all of our Maasai hosts, we were offered chai. At first it was only Daniel and his wife holding their youngest infant, then the grandmother came in. After she got comfortable and taking a pinch of snuff, she started to talk about the evenings events of the morani with the rest of the family. During the high point, she seemed to indicate that is was the responsibility of the older women and other warriors to protect the "possessed" morani from hurting themselves. She was describing the events in kimaa, but with her gestures and sound effects, it was entrancing. There was a lot of laughter which was in contrast with what we experienced. After her long conversation, she left for her boma.


Daniel was curious to know how many children I had. I told him I wasn’t married, so I didn’t have any offspring. He suggested I get a Maasai wife and everyone laughed. I admit I wasn’t sure he was joking at first. Several of Daniel’s brothers, including Robert, also came for a little late night small talk. Daniel told us that if we had to get up and pee during the night, to please not step on him. His wife had pulled one of the cowhides off the bed and put it on the floor.

He told us that one of his four labonnes, tribal chiefs, had 29 wives and at last count, 110 children. We asked more about his home. He said they had lived in it for five years and would stay another five. The wood was a special wood that could last more than twenty years. It took about a month for a Kikuyu carpenter to build, while a traditional Maasai home would take only about a week.

We said our good night’s and piled into bed. Basically it was a raised floor, with wooden slats and a cowhide cover. I slept on the end closest to the calf holding room. I could hear them breathing, and occasionally pissing, all night long. I would swear that I heard a mouse in the walls. They were made about six inches thick with leaves and such used for insulation. Maria said she could hear the baby nursing all night. He was a loud sucker!

But besides being a little cramped, I slept very well. Because they don’t have windows, it was well after sunrise before we got up. Again, Daniel’s brothers came by for a few minutes to chat while the cows were being milked by the women. Grandmother came by to watch the baby. The one small opening in the kitchen wall let in a sliver of light. It was mesmerizing, the swirls of smoke in the light and dust appeared like meteors and died just as quickly. Grandmother did just as grandmothers do all over the world, singing to her grandchild and bounced him on her knee.

The Maasai don’t use diapers on their infants. And when I heard the infant’s sigh of relief, I knew what the pile on grandmothers lap was. Grandmother calmly asked one of the other children to get her a cloth and waited patiently. We soon said our good bye’s and many thank you’s to our hosts, setting off to join our classmates at the campsite.

A few moran stop by for some chai

Daniel laughed when we asked him about the events with the morani. It seemed much more upsetting to the junior elders. Daniel even laughed up a storm when he described how he whacked the morani with a switch stick.