Little Cherine Book 12 - BPost071
The soul will only require a few minutes, but by doing this we can have some time alone with our love. We can feel how overcome Coral is by the beauty of the moment - and that she needs for Robbie to hold her tightly to him.
When I rejoined our guests, who were eating, drinking and talking with excitement about the sharing, about the aliens and their spaceships and about Freddie, I nearly laughed aloud when I found Jina’s niece, Samantha, flirting with a Cherinian from our reality. I guess she won’t be needing our help anymore.
I went to be with my daughter Efineh. She and Ashema and Sebura were providing the stable mass for Piri with her friend Cherine (the one who studied to be a Rider, with her) to orbit as they ran in and out of various groups of adults, playing with kids from three other species. Most Terrans pretended not to look but they could not hide that they were fascinated, especially as one of the kids was an Akiard. Kuleïm, an Elipian boy-child born in Freddie, was also part of the group and he kept forgetting himself and he’d try to butt his friends with his shoulders, trying to knock them off their feet. The two girls are agile and he kept missing, but he unsuccessfully caught the Akiard kid a couple of times, which amused the girls.
Orgg and Jeskine are popular so I did not try to get close, sending them a mental greeting. King George left his wife (Queen) as bait to keep the snobs busy while he walked at the edge of the crowd, his eyes turned to the other side of Freddie and he glanced up at the spaceships and waterfalls every now and then. He also kept an eye on the people close to him and if someone made to walk over to him he quickly lost them by entering the crowds for a while. Gina sensed me closing in on him and telling her Jina family where she is going, she grabbed hold of Pol’s hand and jumped to join me.
I grinned at Pol. “I’m surprised Robbie doesn’t get jealous of you.”
He grinned back and asked her, ‘Would he have reason to?”
Gina laughed. “You wish!” - and then she hugged him.
King George cleared his throat. “We are pleased that the Queen is not with us as you would shock her.”
Gina giggled. “I still get flashbacks of the day I rejuvenated the two of you. If she had not been the queen, she definitely would have screamed and run away.”
Gina sensed he wanted to talk with me so she pulled back, keeping Pol with her. I tried to help by starting the conversation. “You’ve been here five times and still you look around with awe and pleasure. Most people feel they have to act blasé about Freddie and the aliens by their second visit.”
“When something stirs the imagination, only a foolish man smothers it out of fear of being thought unsophisticated.”
“Any particular part of Freddie stir your imagination today? We can go there for a visit.”
“Seeing a soul has left me too stunned to think of anywhere, Samantha - not that I don’t appreciate the thought.”
“Our little goddess Lusalith won’t mind us using her garden to get away from the crowds, would you like that?” Of course I mentally confirmed it with Lusalith first and then we jumped. Gina and Pol followed, but they did not stay on the lawn, she led him off into the jungle at the bottom of the garden. We stared at the two of them as they faded into the dark vegetation.
“There are too many years until it is time for the Cherinians to become a majority on my world. Until then, it would not be tactful for my wife and I to be linked.”
“What is it about being linked that you miss?”
He gave a start of surprise. “I apologise, I did not intend to give the impression I am impatient to be linked. After all, my family and I are kept healthy and with our lives being extended we can afford to wait.”
I bit my lip as I tried to work out what it is he wants. “I can sense yearning, but I don’t know for what.”
“Would you like to think in the manner of a queen, Samantha?”
I gave his question some thought. “It is not being a king or queen that is unpleasant, it is the way it affects you - the way it twists and moulds your thought processes?” He nodded. “Would it be equally true for you and an ancestor who ruled as king with despotic powers?”
“I have no wish to be a dictator so I never gave much thought to what it would be like. I’m sorry, I can’t answer you.”
“When I spoke of despotic powers, I was thinking more of someone like Queen Victoria who used her royal influence and ambitions to turn her country into a powerful and wealthy nation, unlike those kings who used their powers to impose their will for petty reasons or out of fear.”
“To be a king within a modern democracy means I do not have the rights that the meanest of my subjects has. I cannot show preference for one political party or another - I do not even get to vote. If I have a Prime Minister who respects the tradition of Monarchy and is open to debates, I consider myself lucky. Most of the time kings have to deal with politicians who only give the concept of Monarchy lip service and look to use us to further their own ambitions - and when we do not quite see eye-to-eye, they barely disguise their intentions if I do not water my objections.” He did not sigh, but I felt him emote one. “If a brave man is forced to retreat so as to remain alive to fight another day, often enough, he turns into a coward. No nation deserves to be ruled by a coward.”
“I don’t think you are a coward, your majesty, I sense that you are weary. Surely your nephew is mature enough to take over now? Just because your life has been extended, it does not mean you have to remain king. You have done your duty and you served at a time when your country needed you, so there is no need to feel guilt for handing over.”
“And then, Samantha? You don’t expect me to spend my time puttering with roses and horses do you?”
I grinned. “We face this problem with those born Cherinians, they need to find something that will give meaning to their lives. It is unusual being confronted with this problem by someone of your age and experience.”
He scowled. “My nephew has already suggested I join the Boards of some charities so as to keep myself busy - while at the same time I serve to make his rule more popular.”
“What would you like to do?”
“The truth, my dear? I’d like to live in Freddie and share your experiences as you explore the cosmos.”
“You could prepare travelogues on space travel?” He laughed, amused by my humour - one of the reasons I like him so much. “Let your Cherine or Robert know and we’ll gladly pick you up. Will your wife enjoy living this kind of life?”
I swear I saw an impish amusement in his eyes (laughing at himself), as he answered seriously, “As a little girl she was quite the tomboy.”
Well, daughter, by the time you read our diary, you just might be used to having uncle King George around and now you know that it happened because he came to see your soul.
We were not expected to join everyone at the party that evening. We had a few visitors join us at home for a relaxed meal and coffee and then Robbie shooed them away, telling them to go back to the party. They will remain linked and sharing with us, but we need some quiet and gentle loving, while they need to celebrate.
Coral asked, “Today has been humongous! Robert, could we tell everyone we will not share for a few hours and leave Freddie?”
“You want to go…oh, that’s a great idea.” He’d seen she wants us to be alone at Goldi’s Planet. We all loved the idea and asked Robbie to make a platform big enough for us to take everything we’ll need for a month. He shook his head. “It wouldn’t be fair. We promised to share the pregnancy and be absent for one month out of six is too much. One week should suffice to recharge our batteries my loves.” We notified Alki, Freddie, Vincent and Michael and then we jumped to the platform waiting for us outside, in normal space. Robbie jumped us to Goldi’s Planet.
Arthur, we are back at Freddie; we only stayed five days at Goldi’s Planet and then Coral wanted to come back - our absence here, of two hours, was hardly noticed as everyone thought we were in an advanced form of ‘privacy’ - which I guess you could say we were. By tomorrow morning we’ll be lucky to have a few dozen staying to keep us company. At least we know that Iziko is planning to stay for a few months, which makes Candy very happy.
The reason I told you we are back in Freddie was because I wanted to tell you that we will not be asking the scientists to create the tools you suggested. Any tools that affect or measure our minds and gifts are anathema to us and once we’d slept on it we realised we don’t need the tools. As a matter of fact, when we thought of the answer, we felt very stupid. There is not one inhabited planet that we know of that does not have hundreds of millions of Sparklers monitoring all humans in case of illness or accident. They can sense the change in the minds of new Talents and they’ve undertaken to warn us so that we can instantly be there to ensure they are not unbalanced by the strength of their powers.
I’m sorry to say, Arthur, that I don’t think Ahní is likely to change her mind and have a child in the near future, but they will be happy to know that because of them you helped us find a way to save other families from being attacked.
I wish it were possible for me to enter the mind of an embryo before it forms eyes. I’m not being gruesome or weird, just taking a logical step. Once the embryo has a soul, within weeks we are sensing emoting from it; vague and fuzzy at first. What is really strange is that before it is born, it sees shapes, many of them free-flowing with some geometric, but some - just how amazing is this - are (vague/indistinct) faces, trees and so on! Often, with the shapes we also sense colours are being seen. Sometimes the shapes have colour(s) but sometimes they just see sheets of colour. It rarely happens that a baby is born blind and it never happens now. From what I’ve read, people born colour blind did not seem to know what colour is. Does the mind have abilities it loses at or just before birth? To return to my ‘gruesome’ question, I must first explain that we never enter the mind of an unborn child, unless it is a Cherinian and contacts us first. To enter the mind of an embryo before it has eyes would mean we would be entering a mind before it has a soul. To phrase myself awkwardly: does a mind without a soul have a mind? Unfortunately, by the time it has a soul, it already has rudimentary eyes. Allied questions are, if a brain does not have a mind before the soul is attached, how does it call for a soul? My questions may seem pointless and in bad taste to some, but I believe they are important and that we will learn the answers fairly soon. Perhaps other species whose souls do not get damaged by the void and thus, who can recall past lives can answer at least some of the questions?
This is Robert: we posted the above paragraph on our screens, written in a number of languages. It provoked a few debates and many of us tend to agree with one of the suppositions. All souls have lived previous lives, but once they become a part of the new body, they forget. The shapes and colours are probably residual memories which fade over the following months. In other words, what they are seeing, feeling and smelling has nothing to do with present organs - Sam did not mention it, but many embryos (rarely any foetus) experience smells which could not have come from their environment.
Dad got into trouble for doing the above. With the eyes of a number of Earths on us, with the demand for sharing, there was no way such a debate could have been contained to Freddie. The majority of religions are upset with us again. They are trying to be nice because they don’t want to affect the child Coral is carrying and they are aware that Cherinian foetuses can sense emotions and it has become accepted even by Normals that unfavourable emoting has a negative effect on the foetus. I’m going to stay in Freddie for the next two weeks as many blame me because I asked the questions.
Chapter Three Hundred and Nineteen
Our first ever stowaway! The fruit from Africa that we love has proved to be popular with a few of the aliens and almost with all the Terran Cherinians and Normals visiting us. If invited to join us for a meal, they have come to expect bowls filled with custard apples, mangoes, raspberries, red bananas, passion fruit and so on. Those who join us for breakfast rarely choose the honey we bring from there as it has a strong smoky-wild taste, sometimes almost bitter, and most people prefer the gentle and subtly flavoured honeys of the northern apiaries. I guess seeing twigs and bits of grass and, rarely, baby bees in the honeycomb also puts them off.
A Cherinian family living in Moshi collect the food, pack it in a container and the wife jumps with it to us (she is a stronger psychic than her husband). The container goes into the entry point of our storage cavern and it gets opened to be sorted and stored in our storage areas whenever Maria finds a free moment. We had guests and she was busy preparing the evening meal so she left the container for the early hours of the night as she would only need the fruit for breakfast and the storage area is cold enough for the fruit to feel nice and cool when it is time to eat it and would not need refrigeration.
It is a rare occasion when Robbie sits in the company of men and when he does, us girls stay away. Cherine teases him, saying he needs to sit among men at least once a month as he then is surrounded by male pheromones which helps counter the female pheromones and hormones we inundate him with, making him identify too strongly with his female side. This was one of those rare evenings.
The best way for male friends to keep Robbie happy is by telling good jokes. He doesn’t mind the odd crude or smutty joke, but they know he prefers what he calls clever jokes. They had some good jokes, exactly the kind he likes, so they wondered why he looked uneasy and obviously distracted. Within half an hour he was ignoring them and pacing up and down, aggravated by the way he felt. After all, as he told us and himself, he is in Freddie and there is no way a child can be in danger or suffering.
We gave up our conversations or games and joined him so as to section Freddie for us to search. He was apologetic. “I think my instincts have gone haywire loves, we know of every single child, Terran and of all other species and they are well and with their families.”
Rosie shrugged. “I don’t care whether you trust your instincts or not - I do. I’m searching alongside the river, from one end to the other. Bye.”
Robbie was saved from having to argue with us by Vincent and Kirsten suddenly appearing. We quickly departed, each of us searching a part of Freddie. The Sparklers joined the search so we soon had the Unation using their technology to search Freddie in ways we cannot. None of us found the child and Robbie was now getting frantic. He jumped to the void and returned as the void. He spread his energy and starting at the top of our sky he drifted down, passing through everything. He was determined to work his way through to the other side of Freddie, but he called out to us just after passing through the land and base supporting it.
The container was opened and a trembling boy, his teeth chattering from the cold, was brought out. He was wrapped in warm layers of air and brought to the taverna. It is not often us girls stare like this, we could not believe what we saw. He is a Maasai boy of about nine, as tall as most boys of about twelve. His pose is arrogant so it is just as well we could sense his emoting, his inner trembling from fear. He did not fear that we would hurt him, he feared our rejection, but most of all he feared our laughter.
Dommi spoke, gravely, as if he were an adult and the warrior he thinks he is. “Is there danger? Are your people well?”
“They are well.” He hesitated and bravely took the plunge. “I saw on the internet that you have cattle in here, but you do not have anyone to watch them. My family do not have any cattle and it shames the father of my father. I have come to watch your cattle and because you have many, it will please my family to see me here. You can pay me with one cow every two years.” We sensed that he was not negotiable; he felt he’d made us a fair offer.
Most caring and loving social workers would answer that when the child is being impractical, we should not worry about breaking his heart, as children sometimes need to be forced to grow up/mature, face life as it is, not as we want it to be. We cannot do so and yet, he cannot stay. He must live with his people, go to school and have friends he can identify with. Robbie told him we will consider what he has told us and we shall answer him the next day. “It is never good to make decisions without giving some serious thought to what is offered.” Maria set a plate of food for him and asked him whether he’d like a glass of milk and we kept our fingers crossed, hoping he would not want any cow blood or urine in it. He asked whether we have Coca Cola and, relieved that we had not thrown him out…or whatever he’d feared we might do, his appetite blossomed and he ate very well. It was not long before he grew drowsy and Roula took him to a guest bedroom in our home.
Despite our being so far ahead of the time Arthur lives in, the Maasai of our reality have not changed that much over these sixty odd years. Most of them have been educated, but a large percentage of them prefer to return to their old way of living - some say it is so because of us and the healing and food machines. Briefly, here is the little information I have about them.
The Maasai tribe is traditionally a semi-nomadic tribe. They live off their cattle almost exclusively.
Maasai men may have more than one wife.
Maasai women build their houses out of sticks and grass, then cover it with a mixture of cow dung and mud. A Maasai village is called an enkang.
The men put a thick wall of dried thorn-tree branches around the circle of houses to prevent wild animals from coming into the village.
The women do a lot of beading in their spare time. They bead necklaces, head-dresses, gourds, and dresses.
The young Maasai children sometimes play a game where they place rocks on a sleeping rhinoceros. The last one to place a rock on it before it wakes up is the winner. This, of course, is a dangerous game.
When a Maasai boy leaves boyhood, he enters the morani or warrior class. He is expected to be brave enough to spear a lion. If a warrior holds the tail of a lion as it dies he is awarded with that lion's mane and gains great honour in his tribe. The ceremony for boys entering the morani is held every seven years.
Women and children keep their heads shaved while the morani wear their hair in long braids dyed with red clay.
The Maasai eat a custard made from the blood of their cattle. The blood is mixed with milk and curdled to make the custard.
The Maasai pierce and stretch their earlobes and wear large metal hoops at the tops of their ears. This goes for both male and female members.
It is a sign of beauty for women to have long stretched earlobes. Decorative cuts are also made on women’s faces for beauty.
Their sun god is named Ruwa and lives on Mount Kilimanjaro.
When a moran has proven himself he can become an elder. Women can also become elders once they have given birth to four healthy children.
The language of the Maasai is called 'Maa'.
Maasai Customs and Traditions - especially, regarding circumcisions:
The Maasai people live in southern Kenya and northern Tanzania. The tribe is organised socially by age sets: boys become warriors (morans or ol-murrani) following circumcision, and morans become elders when they have circumcised children. Circumcision or Emorata is the most important event in tribal Maasai life. The cutting of the flesh turns a boy into a man, a girl (en-kerai) into a woman (en-tito). This is done when both sexes are between the ages of thirteen and eighteen. Originally the interval between major circumcision and transition ceremonies was about fourteen years, but in recent times the ceremonies are more individualised. The warriors search out good grazing and water, protect their families and cattle from wild animals.
The Maasai are usually tall, athletic, and fine featured. They are not heavily built, like the Bantu, whom they despise, not least because Bantu tribes and the Luo do not circumcise. The Maasai live largely on milk and blood drawn from a cow' s jugular vein without killing it. A Maasai homestead (manyatta) is a group of low huts made of bent branches daubed with dried mud and cow-dung surrounded by a thorn fence, with separate huts for the father, each wife and her young children, and for the morans. The Oldorobo or Il Torrobo people were the aborigines in Maasai legend who lived in a Garden of Eden with Il Parakwo, ancestors of the Maasai. Il Torrobo adopted the Maasai language and attach themselves to the Maasai as rainmakers, circumcisers and attendants of the dead.
To the Maasai layonis (or ol-ayioni), young boys, the word emorata (circumcision) sounds like sweet erotic music loaded with promises of heroic deeds. It means the end of low-status boyhood and the entrance into the world of the morans. From being hard-working dogsbodies who enjoy little respect, they rise to the top of society. They become the young, strong, courageous protectors and providers of their people, and the handsome, virile heroes of the young women. In short, they become everything that every young man, wherever he lives, longs to be.
The boys are presented to the laibon (or ol-oiboni), the witchdoctor or visionary, who, if the signs are right, gives his permission to start the ngipataa, the ceremony preparatory to the day of circumcision. Ceremonies vary among clans, but common to all is the feature that the boys are shaved of hair on all parts of their bodies and that all jewellery and other objects they have fastened to their bodies are removed. Thus they are stripped naked, ready for their rebirth into the adult world. They are then daubed in patterns of white chalk, red ochre and black charcoal and spend the night dancing and celebrating. The next day an ox, goat or sheep from each boy's family is slaughtered and everybody feasts. In preparation for the feast, honey has been collected and beer has been brewed. This is consumed in great quantities by the elders and the Oldorobo circumciser, all of whom frequently become intoxicated to the point of unconsciousness.
A Maasai recalled his father's admonitory speech before he was circumcised: "Circumcision means a sharp knife cutting into the skin of the most sensitive part of your body. You must not budge; don' t move a muscle or even blink. The slightest movement on your part will mean you are a coward, incompetent and unworthy to be a Maasai man. Ours has always been a proud family and we will not tolerate unnecessary embarrassment, so you had better be ready. Imagine yourself alone remaining uncircumcised like the water youth (white man). I hear they are not circumcised. Such a thing is not known in Maasailand." After a pause, he continued: "The pain you will feel is symbolic, it has a deeper meaning. Circumcision means a break between childhood and adulthood. For the first time you will be considered a grown up, complete man. You will be expected to give and not just to receive, to protect your family and not just be protected. And your wise judgement will for the first time be taken into consideration. If you are ready for all these responsibilities, tell us now. Entering into manhood is a heavy load on your shoulders and especially a burden on your mind."
He has certainly been told by the morans that the operation will be dreadfully painful, but that it will not be unbearable. Or as the Maasai say, typical of their cattle culture, "Only blood will flow, not milk." And they have asked him if he was a orkirkenyi, one who has had intercourse with a circumcised woman. And if the boy has admitted to such an experience, his father, mother and the circumciser will have taken a cow from him as punishment.
The boy's ordeal starts at noon in the hut of his mother. First, the boy's father's first wife has her hair wetted with milk and is clean-shaved. Then she does the same to the boy's biological mother, his father's second wife. Finally she shaves his head. Then all three have their heads painted with red ochre.
The first wife then takes the young boy through the gate of the manyatta and together they catch three grasshoppers which are put into a mini-calabash sealed with cow dung. After the circumcision the grasshoppers will be released into the calf pen where they will be trampled to death. This is to symbolise that the young man' s cattle pastures will never be hit by locust swarms or famine.
The boy is now dressed in a black goatskin toga and sent out to collect an olive sapling to be his firestick, a stick used to make fire and also symbolising the links between generations. When he returns, his metamorphosis is striking. He no longer smiles or talks; he is alone in the crowd of his people. And they do not communicate with him either, except for occasional derogatory or abusive words, like "you coward, you stupid boy." This is their way of encouraging him, of strengthening his resolve and thus preparing him for the coming ordeal.
The Circumcision Ordeal
Very early next morning, a good hour before sunrise, the boy leaves the manyatta in company with other newly-circumcised boys. They go to the river where the boy chills his genitals with the intention of easing some of the pain of the forthcoming operation. This completed, they hurry back to the manyatta where the preparations are in full swing. In the middle of the manyatta among the fifty odd cattle which are just awakening, a half-circle of olive saplings has been prepared. Inside the circle stands the circumciser and an elder of his father' s age. As the boy enters the manyatta, he grasps an ox hide and throws it down like a rug into the half-circle. For a moment he stands still, as if in a trance, while ice-cold water is poured over his head from a very special pot. This pot was the one that had contained his placenta and had been kept just outside the gate of his family' s manyatta all these years. The boy then throws himself down on the hide and the elder supports him from behind.
Immediately the circumciser goes to work. He spreads the boy' s legs, wets his penis with milk and then sprays it with a white powder. With quick, professional hands he cuts a semicircular slit at the base of the foreskin and threads the penis head through it. Then he removed all but the ventral ' seam' of the foreskin. This ndelelia - a good inch-long flap of skin - is left to chase evil spirits out of a woman' s vagina during intercourse and to protect him against venereal diseases. Supposedly it also gives women added pleasure and so makes them prefer the morans to uncircumcised males.
During the surgery, which takes less than two minutes, the boy does not utter a sound, twitch a muscle or make the slightest grimace which could reveal pain or weakness. From his appearance you would swear that he has been properly anaesthetised. As he is helped into his mother' s hut afterwards, he is complimented for his bravery by all the onlookers and his mother is repeatedly told what a good son she has raised.
The circumcision ceremony is not just an ordeal for the one being circumcised. Judging from their reaction, it is also an intense emotional experience for the other young men; something like a religious revival meeting. Some of the young morans become very excited and a few throw themselves on the ground as if having epileptic fits, with their bodies shaking in muscular spasms and froth appearing around their mouths. During the ceremony they drink a soup made from the bark of the kiloriti bush which is said to have an invigorating effect.
The boy does not bleed much during the operation. The boy will have eaten some special red berries the day before the operation which, together with the powder used during surgery, effectively prevented bleeding. However, when the powder is tested under proper medical conditions, it proves to have no anti-bleeding effect. Thus it appears most likely that both the lack of bleeding during the surgery and the fits of the onlookers are caused by something similar to self-hypnosis. Furthermore, danger, fear and cold are known to constrict the blood vessels of the genitals through sympathetic nerve stimulation.
After the circumcision, the boy's mother treats his penis with warm milk, fresh cow's urine and mildewed dung. A strong, young ox is bled and Samuel is offered the fresh blood to drink in order to regain his strength.
One would fear that the lack of cleanliness during the operation would inevitably lead to infections. However, only in rare cases do infections occur, the reason being these boys' natural resistance, together with the use of fresh urine, which is almost sterile, and of mildewed dung, which may contain anti-microbial substances.
During the period of recovery from circumcision, while the cut is healing, the young Maasai man may be exposed to ordeals of another kind.David Read narrates such a situation in his book on Maasai life in earlier times, Waters of the Sanjan: While lying in his bed recovering from circumcision, the young man was visited by a married woman to whom he had once as a layoni made improper suggestions. The woman sat down on his bed, removed her skirt and began to caress him. All the while she spoke softly to him, telling him how much she had often wanted him but had been too frightened to take him as he was still uncircumcised. It was different now, she whispered; now that he was a moran no one could stop them making love. She moved her hand down to his pubic area and when he started having an erection, she lay down at his side and purred that he should move closer.
"I cannot," he panted, "and you know it!"
"We do not have to do it all until you are properly recovered," she said, "but there is nothing to stop us caressing each other."
With that the young man's erection split open the wounds and he began to bleed. Then the woman rose and said: "You have paid for your insult as custom requires, and I shall hurt you no more. I have truly been fond of you and now that you are a moran and my husband' s olpirion (of his age-group), you will be welcome in my house and we can be asanjas (lovers)."
Girls' circumcision and genital modification:
Whilst circumcision of the young men is an act for which they volunteer so that they can show how brave they are, the circumcision of the women is not. Nditos (uncircumcised girls) are circumcised once they become pregnant or before their ninth menstruation. They are allowed to scream and kick as long as they do not kick the knife. Usually they are held by women. During the operation the clitoris and parts of the labia are removed, and the vagina is enlarged. The women' s wounds are treated in the same way as the men's and infection is said to be rare.
According to their own oral history, the Maasai originated from the lower Nile valley north of Lake Turkana (Northwest Kenya) and began migrating south around the 15th century, arriving in a long trunk of land stretching from northern Kenya to central Tanzania between the 17th and late 18th century. Other ethnic groups were forcibly displaced as they settled there. The Maasai territory reached its largest size in the mid-19th century, and covered almost all of the Great Rift Valley and adjacent lands from Mount Marsabit in the north to Dodoma in the south.
This period, 1883-1902, was marked by epidemics of contagious bovine pleuropneumonia, rinderpest and smallpox. The estimate, in what was then northwest Tanganyika, was that 90 percent of cattle and half of wild animals perished from rinderpest. Rains failed completely in 1897 and 1898.
The Austrian explorer Oscar Baumann travelled in Maasai lands in 1891-1893, and described the old Maasai settlement in the Ngorongoro Crater in the 1894 book Durch Massailand zur Nilquelle ("Through the lands of the Maasai to the source of the Nile"): "There were women wasted to skeletons from whose eyes the madness of starvation glared ... warriors scarcely able to crawl on all fours, and apathetic, languishing elders. Swarms of vultures followed them from high, awaiting their certain victims." By one estimate two-thirds of the Maasai died during this period.
Maasai are pastoralist and have resisted the urging of the Tanzanian and Kenyan governments to adopt a more sedentary lifestyle. They have demanded grazing rights to many of the national parks in both countries. The Maasai people stood against slavery and lived alongside most wild animals with an aversion to eating game and birds. Maasai land now has East Africa's finest game areas.
Maasai society is strongly patriarchal in nature, with elder men, sometimes joined by retired elders, deciding most major matters for each Maasai group. A full body of oral law covers many aspects of behaviour. Formal execution is unknown, and normally payment in cattle will settle matters. An out of court process called 'amitu', 'to make peace', or 'arop', which involves a substantial apology, is also practiced. The Maasai are monotheistic, and they call God Enkai or Engai. Engai is a single deity with a dual nature: Engai Narok (Black God) is benevolent, and Engai Nanyokie (Red God) is vengeful. The "Mountain of God", Ol Doinyo Lengai, is located in northernmost Tanzania. The central human figure in the Maasai religious system is the laibon who may be involved in: shamanistic healing, divination and prophecy, ensuring success in war or adequate rainfall. Whatever power an individual laibon had was a function of personality rather than position. Many Maasai have become Christian, and to a lesser extent, Muslim. The Maasai are known for their intricate jewellery.
A high infant mortality rate among the Maasai has led to babies not truly being recognised until they reach an age of 3 moons, ilapaitin. For Maasai living a traditional life, the end of life is virtually without ceremony, and the dead are left out for scavengers. A corpse rejected by scavengers (mainly spotted hyenas, which are known as Ondilili or Oln'gojine in the Masai language) is seen as having something wrong with it, and liable to cause social disgrace, therefore it is not uncommon for bodies to be covered in fat and blood from a slaughtered ox. Burial has in the past been reserved for great chiefs, since it is believed to be harmful to the soil.
Traditional Maasai lifestyle centres around their cattle which constitute their primary source of food. The measure of a man's wealth is in terms of cattle and children. A herd of 50 cattle is respectable, and the more children the better. A man who has plenty of one but not the other is considered to be poor. A Maasai myth relates that God gave them all the cattle on earth, leading to the belief that rustling cattle from other tribes is a matter of taking back what is rightfully theirs, a practice that has become much less common.
Over the years, many projects have begun to help Maasai tribal leaders find ways to preserve their traditions while also balancing the education needs of their children for the modern world. Many Maasai have moved away from the nomadic life to responsible positions in commerce and government. Yet despite the sophisticated urban lifestyle they may lead, many will happily head homewards dressed in designer clothes, only to emerge from the traditional family homestead wearing a shuka (colourful piece of cloth), cow hide sandals and carrying a wooden club (o-rinka) - at ease with themselves and the world.
The central unit of Maasai society is the age-set. Although young boys are sent out with the calves and lambs as soon as they can toddle, childhood for boys is mostly playtime, with the exception of ritual beatings to test courage and endurance. Girls are responsible for chores such as cooking and milking, skills which they learn from their mothers at an early age.
Robbie jumped to Moshi and with the help of our local friend he found the family of the boy. Robbie decided it made sense to speak to the grandfather instead of the father. The old man listened, at first his eyes narrowed and then widened as he learnt what his grandson has done. Robbie kept his grin to himself when he sensed how proud the old man was of his grandson. It proved, to Robbie, that he was right in not speaking to the father first. He suspected the father would not only have been angry with his son, but also with his father for filling the mind of his son with so many antiquated ideas. This way, Robbie hoped he’d find a way to make it right for both grandfather and grandson. He brought the old man with him to Freddie and gave them permission to sleep wherever he wants. The friend in Moshi let the parents know that their son and father are in Freddie as our guests and if they would have reacted with anger nobody knows, since they were immediately besieged by the press. Learning that people would be reading about them all over the world (and that they would be paid for their story), pride and the promise of a limited monetary benefit softened their anger and they agreed that both can stay with us for a few days. They were puzzled as to the reason we had taken them and we were shown, later, they speculated wildly.
Both the old man and boy (his name is Koyati Ole Saitoti (Ole means ‘son of’)) were not impressed by the fruit and cereals offered and concentrated on the lamb chops and kidneys, chips, plenty of bread wrapped around honeycomb that they tore in chunks. They must have drunk a litre or more of tea, sweetened both by honey and sugar. I had an idea and asked Maria to bring a tin of condensed milk and they happily drank another pot of tea as we chattered and Robbie smoked.
Robbie smiled and then, once they saw he was not angry with them, he talked. “I am pleased to see that the spirit of the Maasai warrior still lives in your grandson. To make his way to Freddie-in-the-sky on his own, that was a brave thing to do. That he succeeded proves that what children think they can accomplish is what they can succeed at - as long as no adult is there to tell them it cannot be done.”
He spoke directly to the boy, “As impressed as I am by what you have accomplished, I cannot agree to you moving to Freddie to watch over our cattle. However, I am prepared to strike a deal with you. I want you to return home and go to school. If your school reports you are trying hard, and your parents agree, you can come to Freddie during your school holidays - if we are not travelling elsewhere. Once you are an adult, should you still wish to take on the job, it will be yours. To make certain the job is not taken by another, what if we employ your grandfather? Would that suit both of you?”
It does not matter why the boy did this. Whether it was a prank or whether he truly wanted to watch our cattle, his life has been changed. He now has good incentive to keep him studying hard and we’ll see to it that he has a good job once he is an adult - if he wants it. In the meantime, his sense of adventure will be satisfied by his visits to Freddie and he just might end up going on a few trips with us.
The grandfather is, in a very quiet way, happy. He was feeling useless and was waiting to die. Now he is full of life again and Robbie has given him permission to built his hut, of twigs and dung, within the area the cattle roam. He will not bleed our cattle but we’ll make up for it by sending him his meals accompanied by a couple of bottles of beer. I’m betting he’ll soon find himself surrounded by children - of the Akiards, Inguel and Elipians. Maybe other species too. He’ll certainly give them a different point of view to wonder at.
Today was divine for Coral. Yuming communicated with her for the first time. The moment Gina reached out to me is still crystal clear for me and in one way it is strange for a Cherinian. There is tremendous joy, a transcendent joy in sharing such moments with those we love and yet, for just an instant, there also is an instinctive retreat, a drawing in, as if by sharing we risk this new precious being that has taken over the heart and all reason for living. For some, that feeling flashes by in a tenth of a second and for others it can last a second or two. I’ve never known any Cherinian to resent sharing for longer than that, for, by sharing, everything is transformed and we become a centre of light and love that shields the child. If Coral felt such a defensive moment, it must have been the shortest flash possible. Imagine this. You place a candle at the center of a table and others place dozens of candles in a circle around it. However the light fills that center, each flame remains visible. For Yuming, the central and brightest light must come from Coral, but we want her to also sense us surrounding the two of them, loving and protecting them. Somehow the light of love from Robbie is always distinct, as it is from the birth-mother and it always is special for the child, drawing them to each other.
Within hours our sharing had been passed on around the globe and to other realities. Not long afterwards, the sharing was passed on to the Normals and, as always, it is the women who have had a child who weep from the beauty of it.
From hereon we will be editing what we share. Once the communication is two way, we have to respect the moments that are meant to be private for Coral and Robbie, and those that belong only to us, the family. Despite the editing, there are still a rich variety of beautiful moments every day that we share with others.
We have not been as wise as we thought in sharing so freely. Iona and Lusalith, for example, have been deeply affected by what they’ve sensed. Since both of them are still children because they want to be, we fear they might decide it is time to become adults so as to have a child.
Dommi has proven herself the wise one of our family once again. We discussed the effect of our sharing on others and I was surprised at the number of ways we affected people of all species, but Dommi concentrated less on how amazing it is and more on how we should help those who need help. Pointedly, she told us that if some people have been affected in ways we do not like but that are for their own good or could result in them growing, we do not have the right to try and influence them.
Even Dommi was stunned when a Cherinian reported that a new religion has been started and already has about three hundred members. Their First Devotee, as he calls himself, preaches that no other child has touched as many hearts as Yuming has and that she is our Jesus, returning to us in his female form this time, so that, as the True Mother of all of Mankind he can save all those who are condemned to go to Hell if they do not open themselves to God - who, of course is not Arthur. He claims that Yuming has chosen to be born within our family because we prominently serve the false god, who of course is Satan using another name and title. What is really funny is that he claims that Coral, like Mary, is a Virgin. He is right, of course, since she had to age herself, two weeks after conception, and now has the body age of sixteen. Not that it gives him the right to speak of an Immaculate Conception - unless he thinks of Robbie as being the god he worships!
None of us are badly upset by the new religion, we’ve seen too many sects come and go. What does anger Robbie is when people started referring to Yuming as ‘Yum’ and then as ‘Yummy’. I think he dislikes it so much that he is on the verge of asking Coral to change her name. Coral will not do so as Yuming is nearly old enough to choose a name for herself. We know that Coral chose the name Yuming as a reminder for Jade of how much she loves her (reminder, it means ‘jade brightness’). If Yuming agrees to change her name, I would not be surprised if she changes it to either Meilin (it means ‘plum jade’) or to Daiyu (means ‘black jade’ - Black jade is a rare colour of the magnificent stone of heaven. Black jade symbolises protection from negative energy and helps the wearer harness the wise use of personal power.)
Because Coral knows how important are the impressions and customs an unborn child experiences/learns, she makes certain she spends a few hours each day in Taiwan and insists on her family visiting - and she demands they speak to her in Chinese when they do, despite Claudia sometimes being present. She would prefer Yuming hear them in Chinese, but even if she does not, Coral insists that the way they phrase themselves and some of what they discuss will instil some Chinese background to her way of thinking. Coral also listens to Chinese music, including some pieces Wendy composed for Lua. Robbie, over the years, grew to fear we would leave behind our national cultures as we merged within a Cherinian family ‘tribe’/unit and seeing Coral so parochial in this has really pleased him.
Yuming is expected to be born on the third of June, PC 62. That is, in five days. This has been the first Cherinian birth (in our family) where we have not seen what she will look like. She has talked in our minds and we’ve played with her in the void, but she asked not to visit our World until after her birth so Adam had to come out to the void to meet her. She does not mind visiting the Anadir and Sparkler Worlds as she appears there as an Anadir girl - which has enchanted Robbie and all of us. Robbie tried to convince her to visit Meli’s world, but she shyly asked him to wait so that her first visit is after her birth. It would be very bad manners to ask her why she doesn’t want to be seen - as family, it would not be bad manners if she did not want us to see her because she thinks she will be ugly etc. Then we would ask and ask and do what we can to boost her self image.
Dommi told Rose, Robbie’s mother, that Robbie is maturing - as he adores his daughter without having seen what she looks like. Rose enjoys it when any of us tease Robbie, but she responded by claiming that Robbie knows she will be beautiful because her mother is Coral. “With her being partly Chinese, she is bound to have the delicate kind of look that Robert loves.”
Yuming talked to Arthur Campbell this afternoon and though we were surprised, Campbell was delighted. I have a feeling that our daughter did it deliberately so as to force us to re-examine the way we see him. He has certainly done enough to prove he no longer is our enemy. I thought about it for a couple of hours and then spoke to him. “Arthur, in a way I’m glad our daughter spoke to you, but in another way, it is not that good for us.”
Arthur felt my family was upset by what I said so he seemed to keep his emoting unruffled. “Why is that Samantha?”
“I never really felt threatened by you - I guess I sensed without realising it that you are not a very bad guy. If Yuming is right and you are not our enemy, then it means someone else will turn up and he, or she, or it, may not be as nice an enemy as you were.”
He grinned as Cassie answered for him, “If we do have another enemy donated to us, so what? We’ll have Arthur (Campbell) on our side.” It led to some good natured teasing and we returned to our home feeling happy and we had the extra benefit of sensing Campbell was also feeling good.
As we were about to fall asleep, I asked Cassie, “What did you mean by ‘donated to us’?”
She gave that wide grin of hers and there was something impish to it. “I guessed that you meant Arthur will write an enemy into our lives to make his book interesting.”
I was already over my upset as sensing our new daughter for a few minutes makes my whole world brighter and the more than positive way she feels about being born reminds me to look and see how much about life is a wonder and beautiful. Yuming plans on being born at about eleven in the morning, tomorrow, as we’d hoped, though, even with healers, nothing is certain. We are not planning to offer lunch for everyone, but there are those we’ve asked to remain behind after the crowds leave and they will total about two thousand. Keeping the numbers this small upsets us as it means we won’t even have all Teller alternates. With over one hundred realities now a part of us, plus the fact that we have to invite certain close friends, to have everyone we want to stay, we’d need to have food for three to four times as many guests. Yuming says she will be punctual, so all is being prepared for her to be born on time - through natural childbirth.
It is ten minutes before birth and Coral is already preparing for the spasms (they will only last a few minutes). The sharing of Yuming’s emoting will continue to the moment she opens her eyes and that is bound to stun everyone who has never shared before - even those who have. Yuming announced that she loves Jade just as much as her mother does, so she has decided to use two names. She will be Meilin (plum jade) Yuming (jade brightness) Teller.
Only us girls, Lua and her mother Mingzhu, with Dr Maria, were allowed to be present at the birth. No cameras were allowed…well, us girls used our AI companions to record the birth for us and Meilin to have for the future. Robbie held the one hand of Coral and once Meilin was out and cleaned and Coral had held her, he took hold of Meilin. We felt him commune with her as he looked into her eyes and welcomed her and then he handed her over to her great grandmother Mingzhu. We still recall how she felt to us when we first met her in Taiwan and feeling how open her heart now is to love as she holds her great granddaughter, it is a wonderful thing.
Despite most of the world population having shared in the experience, it seems there is a hunger for articles and television shows, with people sitting glued to their screens as they listen to specialists arguing the most nonsensical points. Take any woman from a village in the most primitive part of the world and they would not waste everyone’s time repeating the most elementary things about having a baby as the specialists do. What annoys me is that they do so with a self-important air of being professional and wise. But then, I’ve had to listen to them pontificate about our healers (or healing energies) for years now, despite none of them having the ability to heal themselves or anyone else of even a pimple!