Every morning in the Masai Mara is a beautiful sight to behold. It’s globally known for its richness of the big five animals that attract many from all over the world to come and experience the adventure. Sadly, this beauty does not translate into a beautiful life for the people of the Mara, not especially for the girls and the women.
Kishuru Kuya is a 22-year-old mother of 4 children, 2 boys; 5 & 7 years and 2 girls; 9 & 2-year old. Two of her children are in Logero Primary Boarding School. They chose to put them in boarding school because of the long distances between home and the available schools. The children were too young to walk these distances.
I have never been to school myself because girls ’education was not a priority for my father. Mainly boys were taken to school in my family.
Her Dad had four wives and close to 30 children. She was the third born of the 7 children between her mother and father. Kishuru’s father loved cows and preferred marrying off girls to get cows. He educated most boys because he believed they would enlarge and provide for the family unlike girls who would be married into other families.
One bright sunny day, Kishuru’s mother told her that she was going to get married. Then she was only 10 years old. “At first, I did not take my mother serious,” she said. The mother bought her cups, saucepans, Jars and other house hold items which were put in a metallic box. (This is traditionally done when a girl is getting married as a contribution to her new life; married life).
A Sixty-year-old man visited the home the next evening. The father held a meeting where she was told he was her husband and gave her advice for marriage. They told her that he was the only man they could get so she had to be a good wife and love him. They also cautioned the man that she was still a little girl whom he had to take care of and allow her grow to become a woman and not to mistreat her. They gave him a small stick to spank her in case she made a mistake because she was young and naive.
The next morning, Kishuru’s mother woke her up and performed the traditional blessing over her. (In Masai Tradition, they stuff grass in the girl’s shoes and pour milk on her to bless her before she leaves home to follow her husband). They then told her to carry her metallic box and follow the man to his home. “Everything happened so fast, I didn’t get a chance to express how I felt and neither was I allowed to.” She sadly expressed.
She was the 6th wife to this 60-year-old man and on arrival to his ‘Boma’ she did not have a house, so she stayed with one of the elder wives. Her step daughters would steal staff from her box every now and then. Although it was difficult to bear, she had to cope with her new life.
Last year during a Bonga awareness drive in her community, she was told about Bonga and she got interested. “I was eager to speak Swahili and learn skills like hairdressing and tailoring that other girls in my community had learnt in Bonga.” She said. Before Bonga I was a shepherd, just sitting around, although I wanted to go to school there was no way but thankfully, my husband allowed me to join Bonga in Olesere. I learnt about different diseases, adolescent changes and most importantly family rights. I have encouraged my husband to take my children to school because it’s their right. It benefits the entire family when they go to school.
“I want to educate my children up to university. I look forward to joining the Savings and Credit (Community Managed Microfinance) group in Bonga and there I hope to get money to fence off my land.”
I will not allow my daughters to be married off at a young age. I will fight for them to finish their education, get jobs and have a say in who they want to marry. I know how terrible it feels to be forced into marriage and wouldn’t want it for my children.
She has already started her advocacy role advocacy role against child marriage in Olesere. She does not waste a chance to tell elders about the importance of educating girls.