Arusha Oct 10: Legendary Masai people have invited the Notre Dame Sisters to their Region in Tanzania. On their invitation, the sisters led by Sr. Mukti and team visited the Masai village in Simanjiro.
When the winds howled past the parched lands of Simanjiro, the Elders of the Masai sat together to discuss the details of an educational venture in the region. The sisters have accepted their generous offer of a large tract of land to establish a convent and a school.
It may be mentioned that of all African peoples, the Maasai are one of the best known to the western world. Since they share their territory with one of the greatest collections of wildlife on earth, they have close contact with visitors who go on safari in East Africa, and their distinctive dress, weapons and bead jewellery are familiar from magazines and travel brochures. They also have a reputation as brave fighters who kept the slave trade at bay and challenged early explorers. Yet today they are having to struggle to keep their identity and what remains of their land.
The Maasai probably arrived in East Africa from the north (some say the Nile valley) some time in the 15th century A.D. Until the 19th century they dominated the grass plains that stretch from lake Victoria Nyanza east almost to the Indian ocean, and from the highlands north of Nairobi south to the Maasai steppe of Tanzania.
But in the late 19th century cholera and diseases affecting their cattle nearly wiped them out, and the northern part of their land was taken over by European settlers through treaties with the British colonial administration. As a consequence today they are confined to a much smaller area in Kajiado and Narok districts of Kenya, and Kiteto, Ngorongoro and Simanjiro districts of Arusha region in Tanzania.
Srs. Mukti and Rashmi have already got involved in the educaiton of the little ones in Simanjiro. It is hoped that the Notre Dame Sisters as educators would play a significant role among Masai people.