On a sunny morning in October at Partakilat Primary School in the Maasai Mara, Brighton Getui, a grade 6 student, stood proudly in front of his class with his tie neatly tucked into his new jersey. With a gleam of determination in his eyes, he expressed his aspiration to become an engineer when he grows up. Brighton's dream illustrates a fundamental truth: learning about and participating in conservation extends its roots beyond the environment.
It is often said that the grass is greener where you water it and, more often than not, this filters through far beyond the original purpose. This is why Brighton’s dreams are so uplifting to hear, he has hope for the future. On this day, hope came in the form of a little book which promised to introduce Brighton and his classmates to the stories of local Maasai heroes and their longstanding commitment to protecting the land and its wildlife.
The book project is part of a larger conservation initiative of the Angama Foundation, called the Mara Conservation Education Program. This programme has many branches, the most fundamental being the Conservation Curriculum which is a detailed guide for teachers to use when teaching students about their environment and how important it is to look after it. While most of this is lesson structures etc. there is also a fun side, which is where Letuka and the Goats & Other Stories come in.
Letuka and the Goats, authored by a local Maasai man, Mr Kampante Ole Reiy, serves as a treasure trove of tales about the Maasai Mara's local saviours and their tireless efforts to safeguard the land and its inhabitants. On the day of distribution, it was remarkable to witness the entire community coming together to receive it.
Parents, children, teachers and supporters gathered to celebrate not just what had already been achieved, but also the immense potential for the future. Education, as the cornerstone of transformation, empowers individuals to embark on a path of success and change. Each child holds the potential to leave a mark on their communities at large and we hope by putting the right tools in their hands, they might go out to make a positive impact.
What sets this book apart is that it is specific to this land and to the people who live here. Few, if any, of the children in this area would have seen themselves represented in books and it is with pride that they look upon the pages and see themselves. Furthermore, the book is captivating, with moments of great humour and a good deal of excitement. For example, in one of the stories, Lekuta and his friend are distracted while out grazing their fathers’ goat herds and they are separated from the herds — will they find them again? With these twists and turns, we hope students will learn the joy of reading for pleasure and through this, we hope the book will promote a reading culture.
Each story explores contemporary Maasai life, focusing on cultural and environmental changes, such as the overgrazing of land and the threat of human-wildlife conflict. All the stories have moral lessons for readers who, ideally, are children in grades six to eight. This makes it an invaluable resource for their formative years. Through these relatable stories, the children can see themselves as future protectors of their land and learn some important lessons on how best to behave and interact with their environment.
Storytelling is something that we value very highly at Angama and it is also an integral part of Maasai culture. Lekuta and the Goats might just be a collection of short stories but we hope that its impact will go far beyond the pages. Mr. Kampante Ole Reiy's commitment to conservation through storytelling exemplifies the transformative potential of education. Brighton's dream of becoming an engineer is just one of many aspirations nurtured by this project, which is sowing the seeds of conservation, community and hope in the Maasai Mara.
Filed under: Giving Back
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