July 20, 1987

7/20/87 Nguruman Escarpment

campsite near the Ewaso Nigro River

This morning we had a discussion with a local missionary named Phil. He tried to explain to us the governments position with regards to the Maasai. Kenyan government services completely ignore the area of the country where the Maasai live. Officials in Nairobi refuse to meet with any Maasai who is in traditional dress. "Sheets!" they say.

The government is also interfering with their social structure by dictating that there can not be any more morani. The Eunoto we saw was performed about five years early because of government pressure to reduce the number of warriors. He also shed a little more light on the violent ending of the graduation.

Phil said because so many Maasai boys are going to school while they are also morani, many of the traditional taboos are being ignored. Out of about 500 morani at the ceremony, only about a dozen could say they didn’t break any of the morani taboos. But those outside the special boma had decided that the taboos are meaningless now and that all of the morani should be allowed in. That’s when the elders stepped up and refused. The battle between the old and traditional and the new and modern.

After thanking Phil for talking to us, we prepared to leave. We had hiked about an hour when we came out onto an open field. Just to our right were about ten giraffe. They watched us but never ran. About this time, we saw two of the other groups come out into the open. We decided to all hike together but camp a little separated. Because we found well used footpaths, we ended up going to far north instead of north-east.

We stopped at a few manyatas and asked them how to get to the river. They walked with us a while until the trail became obvious. They laughed and smiled, talking a lot between themselves. We came to the edge of the escarpment and had a great view. You could see for miles a hot dry plain with our river making its way down.

The climb down was rocky and steep. But apparently, the women of the boma that gave us directions, must come down this same path to get water. About four older Maasai women passed us carrying water jugs as we started down.

View of the Ewaso Nigro from far above

Our camp was in a good spot. We could hear some very vocal hippos close to where we crossed the river. The fast is OK. I did have Tang in my water but I think I’ll try to keep it down to a minimum.