I left school when I was 15.
If you are thinking I choose to left school, then you are mistaking. No one from our community ever went to school after 15. We have one primary school in our Ololaimutiek Village. Yes, this is our village name. It takes you more than a day from the capital to reach here.
A century ago, the capital was our land. We grazed our cattle at Enkare Nairobi, the land of cool water, until the white men came with their demonic iron-cart. They took our grasslands and all the resources in the name of civilization. Till today, we never succumbed to their version of civilization. Have you seen the flag of Kenya? In the center, there is a Maasai shield. The shield is defending our freedom from the wrath of civilization.
Not everyone is allowed to go to school. Some of my brothers spent their childhood grazing cattle while I spend mine in Ololaimutiek Primary School learning English and Swahili. I have learned Garman and French from tourists who stayed with us.
At 15, after the school was over, I, along with fifteen other boys from neighboring villages went to the wild. We are living with wild animals and protecting our cattle from the wild predators. If you want to stay superior and protect your village from the wild, you must know the rules of the wild. You have to behave as the leopard behaves while it comes for our lambs and cows. We stayed in the wild for five years. Every boy from a Maasai village must spend five years in wild and must kill a full grown lion to become accepted in the village as a warrior. We kill buffalos and cows in the wild. While we ate those, we rub the fat of the dead animal on our skin. By this, we become invisible to the animals. We become one of them. Then we go hunt the lions. It was me in front when the lion jumped on us. You can see my scars. The scars I am proud of.
My name is Benjamin. I am a Maasai. This jungle is mine. I am a free man. We grow our potatoes. We graze our cattle for meat, milk, and blood. And we dance. We dance with or without occasion. We dance in the morning. We dance while walking. We dance after a lion hunt. We dance in the wedding to negotiate the dowry. We dance to welcome you. Yes, I want you to visit us but not to improve us by your measure of civilization. Our scales of measurement are always different.
Notes: Nairobi was founded in 1899 by the colonial authorities in British East Africa, as a rail depot on the Uganda Railway [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uganda_Railway]
All the photographs are taken in Ololaimutiek Village in Masaimara by Nirjhar Mondal and the author. We are thankful to Benjamin and all the people of his village.
Read more on Maasai lifestyle: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maasai_people