restricted access Chapter Four: We Cried

From: Dying Voice

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CHAPTER FOUR WeCried 1 W e were over four hundred warriors when we left Kaptumek in Nandi Land. Six months later only four of us had survived. We had narrowly escaped a group of hyenas and a couple of lions a short distance away from Ol’Lessos, as we continued our doleful journey back home. We were stark naked. Our calfskin tunics were long gone after so many seasons in the wilderness. We were thin, weak and sick in the head. Our bodies were full of sores. We were dirty and unshaven, and smelt of decomposed bodies. But we were alive. The death of our fellow warriors weighed heavily on our hearts. It was so painful to accept the reality. Both the young and the old shed tears as they realised that the rest were no longer among the living. What had happened to us was a big blow to our community. It meant that many children had been orphaned and many women had been widowed. These events took place long, long ago, when cattle-raiding was the only source of acquiring wealth, prestige and wives. The Nandi were then known all over the area as a courageous people having waged successful wars against their neighbouring tribes for Dying Voice cattle and land. The Nandi had chased the Maasai away from Kipsigak, Ndulele, Ol’Lessos and Uasin Gishu, leaving the area uninhabited. Who could stand before our sharpshooters and poisoned arrows! 2 Life is a heap of problems. Our Elders used to say, “Metorokte teku.”1 I now wonder why we were so anxious to meet danger in that Kapkwambisi cattle raid. I am sure that we could have evaded many disasters. But in those days we enjoyed playing with dangers. We also badly needed to own cows. Owning a cow was not a simple business in those days. It has all changed these days. Now nobody cares to own cows. So, in those days we needed to own cows. And the fastest way of acquiring cows was through cattle-raids. Therefore, even though we knew of so many dangers in the cattle-raids, we still went for them, with our elders’ blessings. Although the earlier raid at Kavirondo had left over four hundred of our young men dead, we were ready to face the Kony, our cousin-tribe. We knew it was a death-march. But we were ready to perish. Oh God! Just imagine an entire age-set of the Nandi, called Korongoro, perished leaving the Nandi with only seven age-sets. It was a war that included warriors of all pororiosiek,2 and never were they to wage a similar war together again. It left the land with only old men and boys apart from women and children. Producing children was greatly hindered, since the elders could not _____________________________________ 1 If you see danger ahead, do not go forward to risk it. Hide until the danger has passed. 2 Tribal divisions comprising several clan living in one place 218 provide such services to their daughters. Uncircumcised boys were equally useless. It was a taboo for them to do so. And there we were the age-set of Kaplelach preparing to raid our cousins, kap Kuugo.3 If the Nandi land ever raised stubborn people, it was us. We never heeded any advice and we could never care less. That is why we perished in that war. Our previous successful raid to Kamoriongo4 had elevated us to a superhuman status. We were huge, strong, and courageous. Our bodies were made only of muscles to an extent that we hardly felt pain, even when we were beaten with clubs. We had had our earlobes pierced and wore ear-jewelry of kiranginik.5 When someone said something that we did not like to hear, we simply shook our heads to create jingling sounds thus barring the voice of the speaker. When we were counseled against destroying human life in the land of Kony, some of us did not pay close attention as jingling and murmurs from others were heard. So we were a stiff- necked bunch of youngsters. 3 One day I saw the elders hurrying to a meeting in the warriors’ hut. Things were moving faster than we had thought. The elders were to have an important meeting that was to bring about the eventual loss of many lives. But they did not know it at that time. They had great hopes in us. The Chief Elder was especially...


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