17 December 2012

Tanzania: Programme Aims to Give Maasai Women Voice

IN Maasai communities women are expected to keep their mouths shut indefinitely, whether suffering or have something serious to communicate; a gender festival held in Loliondo intended to change that.

"If a woman wants to say something before a male audience then she must raise up a particular leaf, be spotted and allowed to speak; but whatever she says should neither be controversial nor accuse a male," explained Mama Sopea Olulu, a resident of Malambo Village during the festival held at Ololosokwan Village.

Mzee Kirando Lukeimei, a Maasai advisor popularly known as 'Mwalimu,' admits that women in the nomadic tribe were both powerless and voiceless but it was now changing, even if it is for the worst as far as he is concerned.

"Husbands who are allowing their wives to own land and cattle as well as have a say in the community have started to suffer the consequences, because these ladies use the opportunity to harass other wives in the usually polygamous marriages," said Mr Lukeimei.

According to 'Mwalimu,' elder wives would prevent the husbands from sending rations of milk and other requirements to the houses of other wives, and use the power bestowed on them to harass children of other women, which means sometimes giving the ladies a voice, may not be good idea.

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