What you need to know:
- The drought is slowly coming back.
- We fear the pasture will diminish in a few months, wiping out the animals that survived the recent prolonged drought.
Hello. My name is Ezekiel Ntiyiene, 52, from Maili 46 village in Kajiado West Sub-county. I am a father of three children. I grew up knowing that the pride of a Maasai man was having a large herd of cattle. My siblings and I used to look forward to the livestock market day when our father would bring home "goodies” from town after selling a cow or a goat.
At least we would be rewarded with Maasai Ankara (sandals made from an old trye) for withstanding the scorching sun in grazing fields while looking after the cattle. Clothing for the children and foodstuff could only be bought during the market day. It was the life of any pastoral family within our village.
This is a trend I have been used to for many years as a pastoralist until lately when adverse climate change began affecting the entire community.
In the last two years, drought has killed all our animals. Despite warnings of an impending drought by climate experts, we still "clung" to our animals. We ignored the signs and refused to sell our animals hoping it would rain. However, it never poured and the drought shook us to the core.
Before the drought hit hard, I had 30 cows and more than 200 goats and sheep. Most of them were wiped away by drought and I sold the skinny ones at a throw-away price to provide food for my family.
It’s painful for a herder to wake up one day and find his animals on the verge of dying of hunger. My animals died while I watched helplessly. Each at a time!
Each day I felt my manhood and pride ebbing out, crushing my dream of earning respect among my peers out of a large herd of cattle. Now my cowshed is empty.
In our community (Maa community), livestock belongs to a man and milk belongs to a woman. I also had a butchery within the sleepy Maili 46 township that closed down in 2021 amid the biting drought. Currently I have become a livestock trade middleman commonly referred to as a "broker" traversing long distances to Shompole,Ilbisil and Kiserian livestock markets in efforts to feed and school my children.
I have two children in university and one in high school. With the adverse effects of climate change already evident in our region, I am hesitant to restock the animals. Pastoralism is arguably untenable. The drought is slowly coming back.We fear the pasture will diminish in a few months, wiping out the animals that survived the recent prolonged drought.
—Compiled by Stanley Ngotho