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Ezekiel: A Lifetime of Change

What drives Ezekiel to take responsibility in life?

Ezekiel Ole Katato

My name is Ezekiel Ole Katato, a Maasai elder, culture and peace ambassador. I grew up in the village as a herd’s boy, looking after my father’s livestock and enjoying nature. My life as a herd’s boy was experiential and humbling - herding livestock, mingling with wildlife, hunting with friends and watching from the magnificent view-points on the hills that stretches to the horizon into the Republic of Tanzania. I also enjoyed listening to stories from grandparents that were at times interrupted by roaring lions - shaking pots, plates and spoons in the whole Manyatta. Mother Nature offers incredible experiences that are beyond imagination. I would like to share a few that are still remarkable to me.

NATURE EXPERIENCES

One day as I looked after the cattle in the bush, a cow went into labor and was about to give birth. I decided to take the cow home. With the calf’s fore legs hanging from the cow’s body, I whistled to tell the cow we are going home. On the way, a Rhinoceros lay down under an acacia tree, also giving birth. The cow ran in the direction of the Rhinoceros. On seeing the cow, the Rhinoceros woke up with its baby Rhino half way out of its body. Within minutes the baby Rhino dropped out of its mothers body and the Rhinoceros turned back to lick its baby. The cow also lay a few meters away and gave birth to a fine calf. The cow stood up and turned back to lick its calf. Somewhere behind a thicket I observed the episode which lasted some minutes. On a different date as we played in the bush with my friends, a Gazelle unexpectedly ran into us with a Cheetah in hot pursuit. Our playing was interrupted and we stopped to observe. Some meters away there was a deep galley. They both jumped to cross but the Gazelle was caught at the other side of the galley. We stood and watched as the Cheetah killed the Gazelle. Separately, after a long hot day herding livestock, dark clouds gathered all over sudden and heavy rains started. Rivers were flooded making it dangerous for me to cross. I mastered a trick of clinging to a cow’s tail to cross the river safely because cows are very good swimmers. These are rare and special experience that drew me closer to nature and made me start to appreciate it as it supports the beating of hearts, so many hearts, from that of an insect to that of the giant elephant, not neglecting mine and yours and that of a child born.

HOW MY LIFE CHANGED

Herding livestock at a tender age slowly but steadily became part of my life. But one day as the cattle grazed, I sat under a tree shade to shelter myself from the scotching sun. All over sudden, people with guns appeared and asked me to accompany them. At the chief’s camp, I met my father having already arrived earlier. He was ordered to take me to school the following day. At school, lessons were boring because they taught in a language I did not understand {English}. But the early explorers Geography lesson slowly captured my attention, and mostly Joseph Thomson and his expeditions through Maasai land. The primary school lesson inspired me to later conceptualize and oversee journeys through Maasai land, intending to walk the land, but hoping to do so with others, walking through into the lives, landscapes and spaces of my people to show the world into our ways of being, seeing and sensing beyond the stereotypes.

GOING TO SCHOOL

After my life as a herds boy in rural Maasai land, I joined school following a government order that all children of my age enroll in school. There were no role models in terms of academic aspirations or career options. For as long as I can remember, there was no inspiration or encouragement to continue schooling because many of the older girls in school got pregnant and dropped out of school, boys got circumcised and joined Moranism {warriors}, school was two and half hours walk one way and our class was under a tree shade. I knew my parents could not afford to help me through my education. Still i felt in my heart that if i stayed at home, I would help my parents with the livestock which would bring fame and prestige to my family from my community.

Nevertheless, I joined school and in high school I developed respect for diversity and a burning desire to be an advocate for those under-served on this planet. This goal has been the reason for my past and current engagements in community work and I was convinced that only good education will provide me with the skills I need in order to meet the challenges I will face and be a strong advocate I aspired to be.

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