I want to tell you a story, a story about a warrior's dream. As you read it, you will experience the pains and hardships, the joys and struggles, of growing up in a different culture. I will also tell you the story of my own travels and the desire I have to share the unique culture of my beloved Maasai people with the rest of the world. As you read the warrior's story, you will learn a little of what it is like to live and grow up in a Maasai village. It is a narration of a-day-in-the-life of the Maasai. I will also share my own challenges of being a modern day warrior and my passion to touch the lives of all the people of the world by sharing the warrior's dream. As you read this, I hope that you will gain a new understanding of yourself as you learn to appreciate the cultures of a different people...

Oltetia Ole Munke
Oltetia Ole Munke
The warrior's story...

     Patched on a flat ground at the face of a volcanic mount, a Maasai Engang (dwelling home), stirs to life at the crack of dawn. The warrior slips off his rough Spartan bed of dry cow skins. Outside the hut, he has but a few minutes to inspect his herd before letting the cows out to graze on the fresh and tender pastures of the plains with the first light of dawn.

     As the day begins, the warrior knows that his precious cattle will need his attention and care. Gently he removes the shutters to his father's gate and his entire herd stream out into the pastures in the dim light of the African morning. He watches with contentment as each of the cows rise. At that moment, he can feel the pride of his father's wealth. The warrior knows all his cattle by name, Pukoret, Petaro, and Nameni are some. His mother chose the names according to the cow's temperament.

     The bright morning star begins to fade away as the intense pre-dawn darkness lifts. The eastern horizon is first lit with violet, then golden-red and then the sun begins to rise. The warrior remembers the morning when he first outsmarted the lions in the prowl, stalking their prey. He was about 10 years then and had just let off their cattle from their Engang. He had woken up early as is the custom at this time of the year when the pastures are good. The cows are usually first let out to graze before they return for the morning milking. This is called linga. He had not been long before he was suddenly stopped on his tracks. A big black manned lion stood right on his trail. The lion was on the wind side and the cows seemed completely unable to notice its presence. Just when the cattle began to sniff and stir, he quickly looked over his shoulder, obviously with the intention to bolt or to execute one of the lion maneuvers he had been taught when he was a kid. But ole Sankale who had carefully followed him all the time without his notice cautiously edged closer as he shouted the order to stay still. Sensing danger, the lion slowly walked away, as he and ole Sankale returned the cattle back to the engang for milking.

     The warrior compares this experience with another many years later, when he killed his first lion, all by himself. The first encounter was at dawn, when the lion had already fed. The other was at dusk and the lion was hungry and edgy. His early training did not just hinge around skirting with lions though. He also learnt the fundamental virtues which have never let him down in life. There is a Maasai saying which goes, "With respect, the many doors of opportunity will be split open for you, and as a pilgrim, strangers will always love your face". From a very early age, the warrior was taught the value of respect and community. Respect and community are the cornerstones of the Maasai culture. A worrior must grow up to be strong, intelligent and brave. The golden rule however is respect. A warrior must always respect the sanctions of his elders.

     At an early age, the warrior also learnt his kinship with nature, which brings forth his food and medicine. The Maasai culture teaches him to respect the land. He forever strives to keep it in perfect balance. A warrior may not cut down a tree, unless it is for the purpose of making his club, the handle of his spear or to use it as a brush for his teeth. He neither can kill wild animals for food. It is a taboo to kill wildlife unless they turn rouge. Unlike the warrior, which in the English language has the connotation to kill and plunder, a Maasai warrior exemplifies strength, bravery, beauty and intelligence...

     As a youth, I tended my father's cattle and lived the traditional life of my Maasai people. The Maasai consider cattle as the greatest measure of wealth. A man's debt is paid off by the value of a cow. When you marry, you pay your wife's dowry with cattle.  

     I was named Oltetia, which means "rich man" in the Maasai language. I was lucky to receive a western education when my father sent me to school. He was a man of immense wisdom and foresight. He had made the ultimate sacrifice by not only choosing to let me go to school, but also by selling some of his prized cattle to pay my school money. I would leave my beloved home, cattle and family to go to a boarding school hundreds of miles away. Often with tears in my eyes, I went to school, in pursuit of a western education. It was the price I paid to receive the reward of my life's dream, to be able to travel and share my life with the rest of the world. Now I am able to demonstrate that you can hold a spear in one hand, a book and pen in the other. I have known the pain, hardship and struggles of growing up in my culture. When I travel the globe, I bring the message of hope and an opportunity for a new start. You can start your life again and be able to win. Race, borders, religion and education might separate us, but at the core of our being is the interconnectedness of us all. God bless you and pray that, through my story a new door will open to give you a fresh new start.   

Oltetia Ole Munke 

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