restricted access Chapter One: Those Were the Days

From: Dying Voice

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CHAPTER ONE ThoseWere the Days 1 T he girls’ circumcision season was drawing near. Our lovers were already preparing for their circumcision and subsequent marriages.Alas, we did not own a single cow yet! For a long time, the beautiful girls had ignored us. As we watched helplessly, the sons of the wealthy married as many women as they wished. But our lovers had told us off. They were not interested in our poverty. They were only interested in cows. And we knew that this was what every young woman was interested in. So our choices were clear—either go for cattle-raids and bring cows, or stay poor bachelors for the rest of our lives. 2 We were on a security mission. I was with my close friends, Kibiwot and Kipsugut, at an outpost near Ol’Lessos. We were talking about so many things, especially our needs to get wives and respect in the society. Our sharp eyes moved across all directions. Our responsibility was to ensure that any unknown intruders (especially spies or enemies’ warriors) were detected at a safe distance. For this Dying Voice purpose, we were on a high ground protected by bushes. Occasionally we would climb tall trees to have a better view of the surrounding. The jungle teemed with wild animals like lions, leopards, elephants, buffaloes and rhinos. These animals were a constant danger to the whole tribe. Therefore, we had to watch their movements and inform the people at home to take precautions. We ourselves were in danger from human enemies, wild animals and reptiles. Our eyes were of great help for the security of the land. Only people known for powers of keen observation were honoured with the responsibility of guarding the land. Suddenly, I saw a movement far ahead. First, I thought it was an animal but later realised that it was a human being, a Maasai spy. Other warriors at a distance followed him thinking that no one was watching them. Finally, they neared our hideout. We were ready with our bows and arrows. Kibiwot shot an arrow that connected beautifully with the shoulder of their ringleader who screamed before falling dead. The rest, on realizing what had happened, disappeared into all directions yelling. They were never to be seen again. We changed our position to another safe post as we prepared to inform our people back home. We were very strong, courageous, knowledgeable and handsome. Our hair were plaited and smeared with ochre soil mixed with oil, while our Kipook1 made out of calves’ skins were well oiled and smooth. Our shoes made out of buffaloes’ skins were strong and impressive. Each of us had a spear, a bow, a quiver of arrows, a club, a sword and a shield.Around our waists were strong skin belts that held a club and a sword while the quivers of arrows were strapped onto our shoulders. Our hands held the remaining ________________________________ 1 Tunics 22 weapons. We talked in low tones jubilantly as we approved what we had done. For several days we watched for a retaliation visit by the Maasai, commonly known to our people as Kamoriongek. Fortunately, nothing happened. 3 “It was time we were married, gentlemen,” I said, “and yet we have no cows to pay as dowry. Chesondin, that sweetheart of mine has confirmed that after the next harvesting season she and the rest will be circumcised. She has also confided to me that the son of Kimaget, the rich man, has approached her many times and intends to make her his third wife. Also her father is being invited to that family for beer parties. This is bad news to me. It is giving me sleepless nights. I hate loosing her, especially after I have lost Chepkigen who got married to the other man. I must do something.” “We have attained the age of marriage, and yet we are poor,” rejoined Kipsugut. “I would also like to marry my girl. She is very charming and I would hate to lose her to some influential wealthy man. If I don’t marry her, I would rather be re-circumcised,” he said while grinding his teeth as an indication that he was serious. Kipsugut was short and stout, and full of muscles. His chest was broad and he breathed heavily. People feared his red eyes. He was slow in talk, but swift in action. When he spoke in a gathering, people needed a lot of patience as his...


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