Is moranism a threat to law?

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Narok, Sunday June 10, 2018

When the word ‘Moran’ is mentioned, the image of a respected Maasai warrior appears in mind, however, this image has changed in the recent past, following a series of attacks and harassment of members of the public by Morans in Narok County.

A few days ago, a group of Morans invaded a shop at Narosura trading center in Narok South Sub-County and demanded the shop keeper to give them all the money in the counter.

Luckily enough, the shopkeeper screamed causing commotion in her shop and was rescued by the members of the public.
The incident came a few days after seven Maasai Morans were arraigned in a Narok court, charged with robbery with violence.

The seven, however escaped the death penalty narrowly after the court allowed the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution method, thereby removing the matter from the court.

The morans who were aged, between 14 to 18 years; Serina Nkongoni, Dickson Saidimu Maitai, Jacob Kukuni, James Kileyia, Simon Nkongoni, Robert Manchau Losikani, Karino ole Keiwua were arrested on labour Day, on allegations of attacking and robbing a man of Sh. 2,000 at Muserechi area, in Lemek in Narok West, while armed with Maasai swords, spears and clubs.

According to the complainant, Philip Kitur, the morans accosted him at Lemek area and ordered him to pay ‘tax’ and upon resistance the morans attacked him with rungus, leaving him with leg and rib injuries.

In February this year, another group of seven morans was arrested by local police for harassing traders in Narok town and stealing merchandise worth Sh.40, 000.

The police released them after area politicians intervened and demanded for their release before they were arraigned in court.

Following the incidents, Narok County Commissioner, George Natembeya has now sounded a stern warning to the young men, saying they were a threat to security in the county.

“We will arrest and arraign these law offenders in court, where they will be charged with robbery with violence because no one is above the law, not even those young men hiding in the name of culture will be spared. “Let them be warned,” a tough talking County Commissioner stated.

Speaking during the Madaraka day celebrations at Nkoilale area in Narok West Sub- County, Commissioner Natembeya said in spite of the fact that he respects the Maa culture, he could not sit, and watch as innocent traders are harassed by the young men.

“The young men should be advised that Narok County is a cosmopolitan County, hence should respect everyone,” he said.

But speaking in the same function, Narok Governor, Samuel Ole Tunai appeared to differ with the County Commissioner, and instead blamed the elders for neglecting their duty of guiding and counseling the youths.

“We elders are the ones to blame because we are the ones responsible of shaping the character of these young men. If we fail in our duties, then we should be the ones liable for the mistakes they make,” Governor Tunai said in Maa dialect.

Tunai said Morans were once respected youths in the society as they played a vital role of protecting the community against people with evil intentions, but wondered that in the recent past they were engaging in criminal activities.

“Fathers have the sole responsibility of ensuring their children move in the right direction. When we hear incidences of Morans robbing people with violence, then we know that our elders have not sat down with their children to educate them on the values of being Moran,” he said.

In a bid to understand more on what seemed to be conflicting interest between the law and culture, KNA sought comments from the Maasai Council of Elders’ Chairperson, Kasaine Ole Esho.

Ole Esho sharply condemned a section of Morans who were traversing the County, harassing residents and stealing from them.

Ole Esho who spoke from his Narok town office denounced the current behavior, saying this is against the spirit of Moranism, adding that this kind of behavior is not expected from them.

According to Ole Esho, Morans are supposed to exhibit the highest level of respect as dictated by the culture, and the behavior they are currently exhibiting is not even supposed to come from people of their position in the society.

“Snatching people’s money and phones is a criminal offence, they should portray good examples, wherever they go so that they too can earn respect from the people,” he said.

About the heroic killing of a lion, Ole Esho noted that the specific set of Morans is broken and another set is to be formed. They are no longer expected to kill wild animals as the modern law of the country has outlawed such traditions.

“Kenya Wildlife Service no longer tolerates the practice for the obvious reasons that wildlife is a leading foreign currency earner. Those who continue to kill wild animals should be regarded as poacher who should face the law,” he says firmly.

Ole Esho advised the young men to venture into education, instead of wasting their productive years in the bush and harassing members of the public.

“We expect Morans to go back to school once they are through with the ritual that takes three to five months, otherwise we will be dragging the Maasai community behind in terms of development,” stated Ole Esho.

Asked about the way forward extremism by Morans, he said the elders are taking the issue seriously and as such have advised the Morans’ chiefs and opinion leaders to talk to the young men and teach them the true spirit of Moranism.

“We have directed that a meeting be held in Narok South for the young men to be guided on what we expect of them. The reports we are currently receiving are unacceptable,” he said.

He said the current season of Moranism is expected to end in August, this year when they are expected to go back to school.

“Education is precious in Maasai Land, therefore, we cannot allow the duration of the ceremony to extend for long as that would interfere with their school time,” he said.

He continued to say that it is a taboo in Maasai culture to arrest a Moran, and if need be, the police should alert the community elders who are allowed to punish the Morans appropriately.

“The spear and rungu in the hands of a Moran are sacred and it is a taboo for anyone including the police to try and get rid of it,” he said.

Morans are Maasai young men who abandon their homes and live in the forest or bushes for several months, where they train on how to protect the society and more about the culture of their people.

During this period, the young men apply red orca and do not wear ordinary clothes, but instead put on a Maasai Shuka to differentiate them from the rest of the community members.

The youths are so respected that when they enter any homestead, the elders in the respective home should slaughter a fat animal for them.

Morans graduations held at Olasit Secondary School in Narok North Sub-County in August last year.

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