Maanda is a Maasai woman who is from the Ngorongoro region of northern Tanzania; her family are traditional pastoralists and she grew up moving around with the cattle. To start with, I was intrigued to hear about what life was like growing up in a Maasai community in Tanzania.
“Life was not easy as a child. In my family, just my older sister and I managed to go to primary school. My sister did not complete her primary education; she was arranged to be married, and accepted. After she dropped out, my father agreed I should go to school.”
Out of twenty-eight children in her village who went to school, just two were girls.
“I went to a day school which was an 8km walk from my home. I would wake up at 4am to milk the cows and clean the house, there was no water at home so I would frequently go to school without washing.”
“Those first few months were really challenging. Lessons were taught in Swahili but I spoke Maasai, and as the teachers were not Maasai, they couldn’t properly communicate with me. In school – before and after class – children did chores for the teachers: we collected water, milk and firewood. If you refused, you were beaten. I felt extremely isolated, even more so when my friend was married off in Standard V and dropped out of education.”