The world is full of many cultures. One of the most cultured filled places in the world is in the plains of Africa. Where the human race was said to be born, Africa is filled with many tribes that never went to the Western “modern” way of living, keeping to their old culture and way of life. This story is document by Wilson Meikuaya and Jackson Nitirkana, and their journey though growing up as a Maasai, yet wanting to learn about the world and save their culture.
The Maasai culture is quite different that the ones in the Western hemisphere are used to. They are from Kenya, with seventeen different language groups. Their god is a female named Enkai; at whom they prayed for to take care of their cows and guidance. The boys are grown up not allow to show fear or pain, as they are the Maasai Warriors. Even a flinch of pain when getting their baby teeth pulled would bring shame on the family. They go the first several years of life without a name. When the parents think the child is old enough they are given a name. If you die young, your name will never be used again, yet if you die an elder your name is consider an honored for a child to inherit your name. The boys had task they had to complete to become a “man” from spending years in a cave to kill a lion, to the graduation ceremony. Once then you can get married to the girl your parents pick out to you. The girl can be children when your parents match you up, yet when she first bleeds (her period) is allow being married. The male can have as many wives as he wants, where they all live in houses around his. Wilson’s father had four wives, giving Wilson 42 siblings. Domestic abused was high in the Maasai culture as women were to serve their husbands, no allow to refuse or in fear of punishment.
Wilson was born without a name, yet after years of seeing Wilson grow into being a brave young man they decided to name him Miton Ole Meikuaya. One thing Wilson wanted, that his parents didn’t, was go to school. His mother told him that police come and take young Maasai children from their families and send them to a place that will destroy their culture. “If you see a car or truck coming, you are to run until you have no breath left in you.” Was what his mother always told him. Yet he wanted to go, so one day he was “accidently” caught and was given the opportunity to go to school. Wilson loved school as he found languages easy to learn and the rest interesting to say the least. He was the class clown, and decided on the Christen name Wilson as the other students couldn’t pronounce his name. Throughout the story you get to see how Wilson goes from a boy into a warrior.
Jackson was like Wilson in the culture he grew up with. He always listen to his mother, and showed respect to his father, yet like a Maasai warrior never showed pain, fear or pride. Yet like his friend Wilson, Jackson wanted to go to school. So against his parent’s wishes he went to learn about the world, math, and other languages. Where languages didn’t come easy, Jackson was great at math, learning it was easier to count your cows then identify them by faces. Jackson stayed at his Uncle Jonathon’s house, yet went home during holidays to take care of his parent’s cows. Jackson was great in sports, spending his time showing people his favorite sport of football (soccer) that he played using a bunch of plastic bundle up into a ball. Jackson was loved by all, and decided to use his schooling to help out his community and save the Maasai culture.
Wilson Meikuaya and Jackson Ntirkana with the help of Susan McClelland got to tell sue their story about the world they grew up in. The story talked about the Maasai culture and how it haven’t evolved into modern day times, yet Wilson, Jackson and their peers where there to bring their people into the new age. How they still will keep their old culture ways of drinking cow blood, yet stop others like killing lions (which is illegal now in Kenya and they can only do it if a lion is threating their house or cows), and arrange marriages. For the story itself it was very dry in the beginning, it wasn’t until after the pictures (located in the middle of the book) where the story started getting interesting. It was confusing for the time line as well with alternating chapters differs between Wilsons and Jackson’s point-of-view, the time line kept jumping. The first few chapters were them at school, and then it went back to how they got to school, then forward at weekends when they weren’t at school. The reason it happen like this was Jackson would tell a story about an event, but then in the next chapter Wilson will tell a story than happen either at the same time as Jackson’s or a little before/after. Jackson and Wilson are two amazing people who have done so much in their short life as they are currently working with Free the Children, giving tours to volunteers in Kenya on what the Maasai culture is truly about.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.