Kasaine, Kereto and Kilelo are just but names that have faded away from the brains of their parents and the society as a whole. Nashipae, Namunyak and Nasieku are now the prime names that make hearts skip a beat on every mention. Introductions have moved from, “I have 3 boys and 2 girls.” to “I have 2 girls and 3 boys.” This post is not against the girl child but it brings out sensitization of the neglect of the boy child in Maasai land.
I write from my experiences, I write from what I see, I write the factors that affect my society with the urge to see the brighter day, the spark that will ignite the already fueled heap of murk that kill my society. The Maasai community has had a long history of male chauvinism, FGM and early marriage. This has really affected the lives of the girl child and thus the armor to liberate the girl child from this harm was reinforced. For years, old men have been arrested for mutilating their girls and for marrying underage girls. For years, NGOs have mushroomed to aid and to educate the community on the harm of mutilating and marrying off girls at a very young age. For years, Foundations have really supported the girl child education and we have witnessed ample harvest from this.
For years too, everyone thought that the boy child was given preference and he needed no help at all. For years, everyone had the set mindset that the boy child is already a man that can defend himself. For years, many thought that it is only the girl child who needed funds to attend school as a boy child will automatically go to school since he is the family favorite. For years, as the girl child’s NGOs and Foundations mushroomed, the boy and girl child were now at an equal level. No one was a favorite as as the girl child was schooled by third parties, the boy was schooled by his father. Laws came to place that the girl child has the right for inheritance and therefore the boy child superiority toppled. The girl child became successful and provided for the aging parents and the extended family. She then became everyone’s pride. A learned girl also attracted immense bride price compared to the learned boy who amassed immense wealth for his wife’s bride price.
The boy child with time has become a liability rather than the pride of the community. With the rise of the girl child through the attention given to them by the society, the boy child has been demoralized by the challenges given to him by the community. The boy child has been demoralized by the immense praise given to the girl child and the comparisons made by the society to the same. The sensitization of the use of birth control methods by government has cut down the large number of early pregnancies by the girl child. The girl child is challenged by other girls who have made it to unfathomable heights in the community and works hard to it but the boy child remains a hopeless being with the inheritance being a major consolation of his poor life. This has made the boy child turn to drugs and alcohol awaiting the death of his parents so that he can be inherited.
Majority of small boys has dropped out of school. The parents ignorantly accept this because they are going to look after the family cattle and do other family chores. With industrialization and the wide shift from pastoralism, the huge acres of Maasai land are rented out for agricultural activities. This has in turn eased trading activities in the area leaving the well-up lads to engage in jobs like sale of mobile airtime scratch cards, distribution and sale of paper bags and the poorest of them engaging in charcoal burning and working as casual workers deep in the farms some of which are their father’s but are rented to successful farmers. This in turn makes the boy child turn to drugs and alcohol as they meet after hours with friends suffering from the same fate. They are in turn seen as failures in the community who have no direction awaiting their father’s deaths so that they can inherit and sell portions of the huge tracts of land. This kills them as no one is ready to listen to them except their peers who they suffer from the same evil, the community that slates them by the day.
As the poor Maasai boy is fighting the odds in the community, their sisters and female cousins who at least went to school are in Nairobi making ends meet. Their learned sisters abduct their unlearned female siblings whom they live with in towns, getting them odd jobs and teaching them how to survive in town. The poor boy children look up to their hopeless elder brothers while the girl children look up to their elder sisters who are in towns with good jobs and wealth.
The boy child has become filth in the society’s eyes and are now doing the tasks of the girl child. You would find small boys collecting firewood, lighting fire, warming milk and sometimes cooking as the girl child does her homework. You would see boy children in tattered school uniform in contrast with the well neat girls as they go to school. You would find boy children herding on normal school days. You would find boy children go out late in the evening to fetch milk simply because they are treated as men. The pride of the boy child has completely faded from the community’s eyes but the same society will complain of how hopeless they are, neglecting them jobs as they are treated as thieves and their best work is to impregnate their girls. How does the same society that has turned a blind eye on the boy child expect not to have thieves and burglars? Almost all of my cousins are giving birth to girls. The boy child is extinguished. He has become extinct. So sad if a boy child is born, the world whispers, “It is going to be a harsh world.” Girls have been given preference over boys as boys are treated as men who can take care of themselves. Society, open your eyes. The boy child is a child too. The boy child cannot quit school and you allow that because he is a man and is okay. The boy child cannot spend outside home for days and claim he is a man. Treat all children the same. They are both God’s gift to us. Consider the boy and the girl as both your eyes. #Maasai4Maasai #MaasaiBoyChild