A group of Maasai warriors have resorted to attacking an all-girls’ school in a desperate bid to find themselves wives.
The young men from Kenya’s most iconic tribe attempted to abduct pupils from the Enkare Nairowua school, in Narok, after bursting in to the dining room at lunchtime.
Many of the girls fled to hide in nearby bushes until the Maasai–also known as morans–were persuaded to leave after two hours of negotiations with teachers, elders and a local chief.
However, they have threatened to return if they are not found brides.
The school principal, Sylvia Lelei, says the girls are living in fear and she has been forced to hire more guards to beef up security in the school
‘I have never seen anything like this. Now parents are forced to foot the bill of more guards,’ she told local newspaper The Nation.
Police in the area have issued warnings, while locals have expressed outrage that no legal action has been taken so far.
Narok is close to Kenya’s famous Maasai Mara game reserve, where the usually peaceful pastoralists tend to herds of cattle alongside some of the world’s most beautiful wildlife.
According to tradition, young men from the Maasai tribe live together in traditional huts, or manyattas, until they are deemed ready to marry.
But girls in Kenya are increasingly resisting the pressure to marry at an early age as they now have better access to education and employment.
The change has caused huge tension in the Maasai tribe where young men are increasingly disaffected.
Locals said that this was not an isolated incident. The young men running amok in Narok stand accused of disrupting trade in local towns, assaulting residents and interfering with roadworks.
The local District Commissioner, Chimwaga Mongo, explained that the young men were acting under the guise of a rite of passage.
Speaking to The Nation, he said: ‘This is not true moranism. The difference between moranism of old and today’s is that elders used to have strict control, and even the warriors themselves had a code of conduct’.
The incident has caused consternation amongst some of Kenya’s social commentators, who believe the young warriors have become a law unto themselves.
‘Maasai culture has no room for abduction”, said Henry ole Kulet, a well-known novelist said.
‘Girls were given out by elders through negotiated engagement. Where culture has failed, the law out to take its course.’