From October 2008 Newsletter (Volume 3, Issue 3)
“There is no difference between children here (in the US) and children in Africa,” Oiye said. “They all have the same heart.”
If you live or work in the San Francisco Bay Area, it would have been hard to miss our Maasai visitors, Hellen and Sabore over the past month. They presented to more than 10 schools, 10 libraries and museums, 7 corporate audiences, 4 warrior training events and many more private parties and gatherings. They were here to help raise money for construction of a new school in their community of Maji Moto. Hellen Nkuraiya is our Program Manager in Kenya. She is a former school principal, business entrepreneur and passionate advocate for education. Sabore Ole Oyie is a Maasai tribal warrior, elder advisor, and cultural ambassador for Kenya.
They shared their views on why education is so important in Kenya, particularly in their Maasai community, how they balance traditional culture and education, and why their vision for their school in Maji Moto is unique. They recognized the involvement of Asante Africa Foundation as not changing their culture, but empowering them to be self reliant through education.
Their message is that education is the key to building capability within their own community and country to solve the challenges they face in creating a future that honors the culture of all tribes. Illiterate herders and land owners are being cheated at the bank because they cannot read the deposit notes they are signing.
“Education is the most powerful weapon to change the future,” said Hellen, being interviewed KRON TV.
They see that early marriage and female circumcision are things that need to be changed in their culture, while keeping important rites of passage. As more children are educated and allowed to grow older before marrying, the community is slowly seeing the benefits and modifying their views.
Hellen and Sabore know that some community members and American supporters fear that encouraging young people to be educated and exposed to new ideas will weaken their culture. As they stood before audiences in full traditional dress that is their daily custom, they were living proof that students who pursue an education as they both did, will return to their communities to teach and lead. Their culture is strong and precious, and will be kept alive.