Meet Mokia Naputu Mollel, a Maasai from Simanjiro District in the northern part of Tanzania some 70km south of Arusha city. Mokia is a student and teaching assistant at the University of Dar Es Salaam. He is an emerging writer and hopes to use Voice of Maasai platform to teach others about Maasai culture and the issues they face.
I was raised in a family of 22 members including my (late) father and his three wives and their children. My fathers wives continue to conceive despite our father being deceased. In our family the children amounts to 18 (10 girls and 8 boys) whereas 9 girls have been married at the age of 12-15 years old.
I am the only child to attend school despite the desire of my siblings to attend as well. It is not because our parents reject education, or because the children are not bright or they don’t want to go to school; it is because by the time my sisters reached school age there were no schools in the village. The few children in the village that go to school, including one of my older sisters, had to walk 27km through the dangerous bush and hills daily to access a local primary school from the neighbor villages. The school had a capacity of only 80 students.
As result, my parents managed to establish a primary school under the tree at the village where I was able to enroll at the age of 8. The only teacher available had gone missing, so the school had to end. Then in 2000, the school reopened and I officially registered. Among 37 graduates, only 8 passed to secondary school where I was their best student. From secondary school to university I was the only one in the village making the list of 10 university degree holders from Simanjiro District by the year 2015.
I am now a masters student, undergraduate and postgraduate student with honors, and teaching assistant at the University of Dar es Salaam which has been named the most prestigious higher learning institution in the East African Region. I am also a keeper of my family of 12 members toiling to provide them with the basic needs following the death of our father in 2017.
I hope to help others learning more about what it means to be Maasai and some of the issues we face.