My Spear Will Protect You

My Spear Will Protect You

by Sr. Ruth Percival MMM                            England/Tanzania                               12.06 2024

“I will leave my spear here, it will protect you,” said the warrior as he thrust his spear into the ground a few feet away from the Land Rover. Smiling, he hurried after the other warriors who had disappeared over the edge of the ridge.  looked around.  I was alone in a large clearing, a few hundred feet up the mountain that stands behind our house.  The ridge – so impressive and distant from below – was clear and close in every detail.  All I could see were hills and more rolling hills in the distance.  The valley lay below, hidden by trees.  I marvelled at the beauty of the scene, at the scented blossoms on the grey thorn trees.  At the same time, a sense of self-preservation dictated that I should fix the rear-view mirror on the undergrowth behind me, to watch for animal movements.

What were we doing up the mountain?  A cow had broken a leg in a ravine and had to be slaughtered.  We were asked for the Land Rover to bring the meat down for sale.  The poor cow was about a mile from where I was left with the spear protecting me from the lions.  When the warriors eventually returned, they brought me a third of the cow’s heart, beautifully cooked.  That was considered a very big honour, and delicious too!  It was a great honour for us to have been invited to live in Maasai country in Tanzania.  Within a 15 km radius there were over 50 bomas, with approximately 60 family members in each.

The boma is a circular compound where the Maasai live.  Inside the circle made of thorn bush that protects the people and the cattle inside can be found a few houses where people sleep.  As these are a semi-nomadic people, they travel often with their animals, and sometimes with their whole family, in search of pasture.  There are innumerable little sandy tracks and paths criss-crossing all over.  They all look alike, so it is easy to get lost.  But this is not advisable, as lions, buffalo and elephants are among the many animals who inhabit the locality.  Half a mile from our boma there was a great open watering place for the thousands of cattle, sheep and goats.  There is a domestic water point here too.  The water flows down the mountainside from a spring.  The open place is the centre for everyone’s life.  There the people meet; the elders gather for their meetings.  The warriors gather with their cattle and goats.  The women and children come here to fetch water for the home.

This was my home for many years.