Panic as Maasai morans raid school for ‘wives’

Photo Maasai morans disrupt repair works on the Narok-Maasai Mara road last month. The young men have become a menace in the area.

Posted Friday, November 11 2011 at 22:30
They struck at midday, taking the school authorities by surprise. Clad in red shukas (sashes) and red ochre, their swords blazing in the sweltering tropical heat, 10 Maasai morans (warriors) stormed Enkare Nairowua Girls’ School in Narok South on Friday last week.
They made their way to the dining hall, where the girls were taking their lunch, and attempted to abduct them. Reason? Life had become difficult in the manyattas (hut) without wives.
Then followed a tense two hours as elders, teachers and the local chief pleaded with the morans to abandon their mission.
The young men reluctantly returned to their manyatta on the edge of Maasai Mara National Reserve, five kilometres from the school. But warned they would return if they were not given girls to marry. The girls scampered to the nearby bushes and only returned after they were assured the morans had left.
The school principal, Ms Sylvia Lelei, says the girls are living in fear and she has been forced to hire more guards to beef up security in the school.
“I have never seen anything like this. Now parents are forced to foot the bill of more guards,” she said.
The incident that occurred as the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examinations were under way, shocked many. But it was not an isolated act of lawlessness.
Recently, morans stopped business in Ewaso Nyiro and Narok towns and assaulted residents.
“They also disrupted repair works on the 56-kilometre Narok-Maasai Mara road,” Narok South DC Chimwaga Mongo said.
The DC warned that more young men were engaging in violent acts under the guise of rite of passage.
He said police had been posted to schools adjacent to manyattas ‘until the matter is dealt with conclusively.’
“That is not true moranism. The difference between moranism of old and today’s is that elders used to have a strict control, and even the warriors themselves had a code of conduct.
“But today’s morans have become a law unto themselves,” the
community’s foremost novelist, Mr Henry ole Kulet, said.
According to him, morans’ role was to defend the community from attacks and wild animals.
“Maasai culture has no room for abduction. Girls were given out by elders through negotiated engagement. Where culture has failed, the law ought to take its course,” Mr Kulet said.
Kenya National Association of Parents secretary-general Musau Ndunda asked the government to arrest the suspects.
“It is a shame that nothing has been done to the culprits who stormed a school in broad daylight. How safe are our children if a gang can take the law into their hands and get away with it?” he asked. Narok South district education officer Nicolas Obiri challenged elders to rein in the young men.
Beside moranism, female genital mutilation is also rampant in the community. Some parents and crooked medical officers are circumcising girls in hospitals to escape legal action

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