There was enormous excitement among the children at Dragon School, Oxford, in anticipation of the arrival of two Maasai warriors, who had travelled from Kenya to thank the school for supporting educational programmes in the Masai Mara.
Wilson Meikuaya and Jackson Ntirkana, dressed in beads and shukas, carrying traditional weapons, entranced the children with their stories of growing up herding cattle across the wild, golden plains of southern Kenya and northern Tanzania.
Their village had deliberately migrated away when a school was built in their area. ‘Education steals culture’ their parents had asserted. Yet as a boy Wilson was determined to attend school, and, like others of his generation, travelled great distances and struggled to convince his elders of the value of schooling. His campaign eventually worked – the village raised money so he could attend school.
Wilson went on to graduate from University in Sociology, and Jackson in Botany. They now describe themselves as ‘Warriors for Education’. As volunteer teachers in their community they received support from funds raised by children at the Dragon School, through the WE Movement which builds classrooms and develops water, healthcare, food and income programmes.
Wilson and Jackson have published a book, “The Last Maasai Warriors”, an autobiographical account of how their generation are trying to preserve, yet adapt, Maasai tradition. Dragon children were fascinated by how they lived and eagerly asked about Maasai homes, families and hunting traditions. They could hardly believe that Wilson has 42 siblings, and his father five wives.
There are several videos online that relate to Wilson and Jackson. Similar stories about the new generation of Maasai include those of Jackson Looseiya and, from a neighbouring tribe, Paul Kirui. The WE Movement website describes their Kenya programmes, and the Dragon will again be participating in the annual WE Day at Wembley.