The community (Maasai) from which the cricket team comes from has retrogressive traditional practices like female genital mutilation, (FGM) early marriages and little or no formal education, which limits the potential of women in the society.
The team of morans,(ilmurran) who would traditionally be young men working towards defending the community from its enemies, now work in collaboration with partners to pass the message in schools, public gatherings and through new media.
The team has been an inspiration because they have shown that we can bring about change from within the communities we belong. They took a bold step and went against the traditional customs and community norms that made the women inferior.
I heard about the Maasai cricket warriors when I was still in University. The team’s captain, Sonyanga Ole Ngais had just enrolled for his journalism degree. I sought to interview him in the University radio station and later joined me in producing community programs. At that time, the Warriors Film, a documentary about the journey of the cricket team from Africa to Europe was soon to be launched. I sought to do some research about what they did, how they did it and what the impact had been so far.
Before interacting with the Maasai cricket warriors, my role in the radio station was just to facilitate conversations in society where we would talk about politics and general culture-preservation topics. Everything changed when I realized that there was a possibility to go to the villages and talk to the responsible parties about culture preservation and ways that we could use to fight such retrogressive practices. Through this, I did a Maasai radio news features that has been instrumental in passing the message on FGM to society. One of them won a National award.
The story about the Maasai cricket warriors has not resonated in Kenya as much as it has in Maasai land. Many societies practice female genital mutilation in Kenya but the cricket warriors establish themselves as Maasai people, which may be the reason why they may not be known so much in other communities. They have, however, had several national and international television and radio interviews, featured in Newspapers and blogs among other media outlets that has given them an opportunity to spread the message outside the Maasai community.
I plan to take part in such community-building activities, just like the cricket warriors. I relate to them since they found a way to speak out without direct confrontation with the community. They also chose to speak out in a language that everyone practicing it understood. In the few events I have attended with members of the warriors’ team, we have talked about diverse issues, which does not only limit me to the specific things the warriors are tackling. The warriors’ story is sure an eye-opener for those willing to embrace change on how to approach issues in Africa.
FGM, Maasai Cricket Warriors, Sonyanga Ole Ngais, Enkishon E Maa, Daystar University, Jeremiah Kipainoi, Shine FM, Development From Within, Advocacy, Culture preservation, Education, Rights of Passage