‘My kind of joy’

A Day at Olosho-oibor

 By Eudiah Kamonjo.

I had spent a sleepless night; tossing and turning in my bed wondering how tomorrow would go. The cock had crowed and worried the heck out of me…I had to get some sleep but….it was not forthcoming. I only got to sleep when it was already daylight. I therefore woke up much later than I had planned.To try and not look very town-like, I put on my black flowing dress and a bolero. By 11 O’Clock, I was in town where I took a matatu to Ngong.  I still hadn’t learnt to pronounce the name of the place I was going to and I knew I was going to have a hard time.

The place was Olosho-oibor; this was where the Maasai cultural show was taking place. My arrival at Ngong was one filled with so many memories. See, I used to live here once and I miss the fact that I could walk up to the Ngong Hills to get a quite atmosphere for writing anytime I wanted. Still, I tried not to think too much of this place that I once called ‘home’.Dad had told me that I could get vehicles to take me to the venue. I asked a driver for directions and walked to a number 126 saying this matatu would get me there. But when I asked the driver, he told me that they do not reach Olosho-oibor. I was petrified. What if I had just gotten into the matatu without asking?

Dad was telling me that I was late (it was already 10 O’Clock by the time I’d gotten to Ngong) but I was determined. Today was the day; I couldn’t wait until next year.The driver then gave me directions to a spot where I’d find a pick-up that would take people going to the show. I had to walk a few metres again before I asked a Maasai woman for more directions telling her I was going for the show. She directed me and then as I stopped to buy some more airtime, I asked the shopkeeper just to be sure I was in the right direction.There was the matatu/pick up, I could see the blue leather cover that was supposed to act as a rain barrier.There was a Maasai woman fully clothed in Maasai regalia and a young man who no-one would mistake for any other tribe owing to the gap between his lower teeth.Another tall Maasai jumped into the vehicle and I watched in awe as they got into a very animated conversation with the woman. What was running through his mind? I wondered.They were all smiling, exposing their trademark gaps on their lower teeth.Their wonderful language and respect for each other was amazing to say the least.

The fact that these people are always dressed like this and walking bare feet but  were obviously richer than me-not just in terms of culture and happiness but what they owned.The pick up was overflowing with luggage, some of which contained goods that were going to be sold at the show while others were headed to their households.The driver walked towards the vehicle and even before he talked, I already knew he was Maasai. He was very tall and good-looking. He was staring at me …I stared back, not at all intimidated.

I then realized I had failed in my dressing, I still looked like a town girl, it seemed.I had earlier asked the young man seated beside me whether this was the right vehicle to Olosho-oibor and he said yes. Now, he explained to the driver that I was going to the show. I hastily enquired “Can we go now?” he answered, “Yes, we are going to the show.”I was restless.

I felt like I was missing a lot. Five minutes, ten minutes passed, we still hadn’t moved. The young Maasai started telling me about how nice it was the day before (Friday).That the event had been running for three days; since Thursday and that it had been happening for over 10 years. Wow! I was wondering. ‘How come people don’t know about this?

’This took me back to last weekend 8th June, my friend Piri from South Africa had come to play rugby at the Safari Sevens and he’d told me how much he was mesmerized by the culture of the Maasai and that he was dying to meet one. He even paused like a Maasai so that I’d see how much he’d seen postcards and photos of them. My collegues and I were bursting with laughter at how well he’d managed to imitate them.

I was deep in thought when the pick-up finally took off. Dad had told me It’d take about an hour for us to get there. The dust road was really rough and I had to hold on tightly to the metal bars above my head.I was seated between two very tall Maasai men and I continued to watch as the man and woman continued their seemingly endless happy conversation not understanding a damn bit.

At some point, the wether got really chilly and my fingers grew numb, but I had to hold on tight to the cold metal bars, now with both of my hands.The fare was Kshs.60 which was being handed over to a woman (not a Maasai) who I was later to learn was a kikuyu married to the Maasai driver.We picked another young man on the way and I noticed he was looking at me strangely.When he started talking, he was telling everyone that he was carrying liqueur to sell to the attendees. Later, looking straight at me he said. “I like your dreads.” Turning to the lady beside her, he continued, “You know, I used to have dreads and I’m still a Rasta to death. If my kids won’t have them, I will know they ain’t mine.”“You know, rastas are very respectful people. Look at even the way she is dressed-covered to the heel. Rasta ladies cover themselves and I just wished you’d have also covered your bossom appropriately. You know, even when you say hallo to a Rasta lady in the streets, she will always reply unlike other ladies,” he finalized. Lets just say I was ……..

The rest of the journey was undramatic and as we approached the show grounds-I called Dad to let him know that I was here.I made friends with Nais (her real name) and we walked around the venue together talking.Everyone seemed to know her; I was soon to learn that her family is considered to be very wealthy inspite of the semi-permanent structure she’d pointed at as their home.The Maasai were cooking various foods and preparing hot beverages under trees on the traditional three-stones.Others were displaying their colourful bead-work while the men were preparing soup, nyama choma and boiling the famous red-bark (a herbal-drink that enhances the Maasai’s libido). Of course I had to taste this stuff. It was great   but of course it didn’t work on me……is it because I’m a woman? !!!!!!
The MC was talking non-stop in fluent Maasai such that I felt left out but still very welcome to taste and experience their wonderful culture.There was a crowd of people (of all ages) surrounding the field.Today was the final day and there’d be sports activities going on. The elderly men were racing each other and playing football-this was absolutely hilarious!. The dancing and cattle exhibition had already taken place the day before.Drugs and animal feeds companies were also exhibiting their products and they admitted that the turn out this year had not been as good as it was last year but that the sales were good enough.

There were fewer tourists than i expected but it was obvious that everyone there had been looking forward to this rare event.



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