restricted access Chapter Three: We Laughed / Ancient Nandi Life in Pictures

From: Dying Voice

African Books Collective colophon
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CHAPTER THREE We Laughed 1 T he saying Ma-amei ilat ket oeng1 is true. It gives hope to a downhearted man after a failure. Our warriors had earlier raided Kavirondo2 and lost over four hundred of their own. Here is that story. Our people had always distinguished between fishermen and herdsmen and could not see any reason why the fisher-folk Luo should own cattle instead of fish! The Luo could not be trusted to take care of the cattle, and therefore had no right to own them. So we had successfully raided the Luo several times to retrieve our rightful cattle from them. Unfortunately, our faith in our own power was badly shattered at the Kavirondo raid, when the Luo taught us a lesson. This was because the Luo were more advanced in shield making than were other tribes around. The shields made by the Luo were very tall, up to five feet. During the Kavirondo raid, our men had shot and threw almost everything they had at these shields, only to find that they had not done much damage. Our astonished warriors were later ____________________________________ 1 A tree is not struck twice by lightening 2 The Luo tribe Dying Voice rounded up and massacred. This horrid defeat caused trauma to our people for many years. But even though the Luo had defeated us during the Kavirondo raid, we did not lose heart. We later discovered their weakness. They did not have weapons apart from spears and clubs. We paid them another visit and this time we defeated them easily with the help of our spears and poisoned arrows. We massacred them and took away all their cows. But our earlier defeat by the Luo had greatly reduced the number of our warriors. For many years we did not have men in the land, as most of us were then too young to sire children. At long last we were ready to raid the Maasai and claim from them our cattle. 2 I still remember that early morning vividly since it was my first venture of this kind. Having collected all our requirements, we stood in three groups. The first was the Ng’anymetiet platoon composed of spies and security men. Their major responsibility involved surveying the route as well as safeguarding the middle group, the Samburto.3 The middle group was composed of elders and junior warriors. They had the duty of safeguarding the stores of food as well as Suatinik.4 This group was formed by a group of war veterans. Their other responsibility was that it acted as an advisory centre where all events were governed according to the regulations of war. __________________________________________ 3 Lit. A pot holding the small items of a family’s household goods. This word was also used to refer to food-stores. 4 Live herds 166 At both sides of this group were very courageous warriors called Pirtik It was to further strengthen the security of Samburto from attacks by wild animals, mostly lions. Cows were in danger from wild cats. Finally, The third group was the Oldimdo. It was composed of also courageous warriors whose duty was to provide security from the rear. Early that morning at dawn, we were already in our groups waiting for the final word. We had all our provisions ready. That included food and weapons. Every warrior was to carry a spear, a shield, a bow, a quiver of arrows, a club and a pouch containing a mixture of meat and honey, millet, and Ngoriet-ab kaboger5 Elders could be seen walking from one group to another making a careful inspection of whether each warrior had the necessary provisions. Also every warrior wore thigh-bells.6 Nothing was said at all. At the end of the inspection a powerful Kudu horn was blown four times. Many things took place at a go. The ground trembled, the cowards fainted and forward we marched. We were men with all the qualities of lions and never once did we look behind. Our eyes gazed far ahead of us while our thoughts fixed at victory. We first marched eastward and finally towards the western direction on our way to Serem. For a long time our people at home, Kaptumek, watched a cloud of dust rising in the air as over five hundred people stamped the ground powerfully. Our feet could be heard from far away as if We Laughed __________________________________ 5 A war dress 6 The noise made...


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