The Losinoni Fountain

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Footsteps, yarns and little fibs
A visit to a remote village and more than scones with my cut of tea.

Submitted: April 05, 2017

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Submitted: April 05, 2017



The village of Losinoni is remote by the standards we were used to at time. In the big scheme of things it is not, the turn-off is on the tarred main highway between Arusha and Nairobi, but once off the tar, the track becomes dusty, which made the trip seem to be longer than it actually was. The area becomes very dry in the rain shadow of the mountain so life can be hard there.

On the way in, there was a Maasai boy herding goats who gestured with one hand that he was either hungry or thirsty and with his open other hand, he was begging. We had no drinking water with us, but I had bought some nice pears at the market for prizes at the school, so stopped to give him one of those. When we stopped he abandoned his goats and fled! About fifty yards away he stopped and turned to eye us. Out of the vehicle, Joshia held the pear in the air for him to see and placed it on the ground. After we were well away, the boy ran to retrieve his prize.

The trees were growing well at the school, despite the dry and despite the village elders ordering that water was for the livestock and households only. This was because the pipeline was not working properly. But the kids had been ‘stealing’ water at night for their trees! They wanted to win a prize.

Four or five years later, I found out why there was nearly always trouble with Losinoni’s water. Their only source came from a spring high up in the mountain, and on behalf of another village on the other side, I went up there to fix the problem. Actually I was advised for safety reasons not to go there because it was a place where cannabis was grown! We were going to rehabilitate the line to this other village but to do that we had to climb the four hours up to the water source, close to the village-that-cultivates-cannabis.

There was a small spring up there that flowed into a concrete box with three outlets. One to Losinoni, one to the other village and the other to the village-that-cultivates-cannabis.  It was obvious! When they don’t get enough water for the village, they just block the other outlets with screwed-up plastic bags! And then often forgot to remove them when there was again sufficient water coming from the spring. In fact I could see where water had overflowed in the past! There is no way I would try to sort such an issue, but that’s the reason for Losinoni’s scarcity!

Mama George was at the school, and wanted us to go to her house for a cup of tea. She was the wife of the village chairman and was in her own right, a leader of her people. She had her own small tree nursery with perhaps twenty plants that she wanted to show me. She was the chair of a women’s group in the village, who wanted me to help find funds for the small clinic that was already built there through funding from New Zealand, but they wanted funds for an improved midwifery service.

I sat opposite Mama George and Joshia sat to my left. With the grace of the Maasai she poured sweet, milky tea from a Thermos she had prepared. As the ‘guest’ I was served first, which I didn’t like that much because, as usual, I heard the glug when the top bit of boiled milk- skin plopped into my cup! It doesn’t go down the throat very easily!

Once Mama George had given her spiel and we were relaxing talking generally, when her eighteen month old son, Heri, decided he wanted a drink and so he latched into her breast. She subconsciously draped her kanga over the boy’s head, which mothers might or might not do when they are breast feeding.

Suddenly Heri came up for air and as he did so, the kanga slipped away. None of us, least of all Mama George, were in the least bit concerned. But as Heri squirmed, he must have pushed the right button! A fountain of milk arced daintily across the table in my direction! It was over in a flash, and happily, it missed me. Mama George carried on talking as if nothing had happened. But I struggled to retain eye contact with her and keep my face creasing into a smile!



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