‘Nainokanoka,’ is a Maasai term meaning ‘I am shivering,’ or rather the ‘place that will make you shiver,’ and sure enough, the village is possibly the coldest place in Ngorongoro District.
Mapped within the Ngorongoro Division which is essential a conservation area, the ‘Nainokanoka’ has other things guaranteed to make one shiver that is apart from the area’s trademark cold weather.Being a conservation location, it means wild animals roam about freely and these include ferocious carnivores such as Lions, Leopards and Hyenas, as well as charging giants like buffaloes and mobile giants like elephants.
Nainokanoka is therefore not a place where one should walk alone at dusk or during the early hours of the Morning when most wild animals, especially meat-eaters, would be returning back to their shelters after a whole night of either hunting or feeding.But right in the middle of this remote ward, a learning institution has just opened doors to students. The Nainokanoka Secondary School is a public facility which recorded its first ever student intake this year.
Nainokanoka Secondary School was built from scratch by the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority, being the latter’s corporate social responsibility project aimed at helping the local children from the Maasai communities in the locality access education without being subjected to travel to other districts as it had been the case before.
The first thing that stands out, as it happened during a recent visit to the school, were the uniforms being adorned by a number of its female students.For the male students, things appear normal, black trousers, white shirts and green cardigans.
It is the Nainokanoa girls students’ attires that make heads turn; they have the ordinary red skirts, white blouses and green sweaters, but these upper clothing seem to overlay track-suits worn underneath.“The girls are allowed to dress in tracksuits beneath their regular uniforms to shield them from the chilly weather because this place can be very cold,” said the School Headmaster, Mr Elipokea Masare.
But the track-suits worn beneath the ordinary uniforms are also meant to make the girls more flexible in their movements; as we have seen, Nainokanoka could be ‘a jungle out there!’The teachers at the school explain that hostile animals such as buffaloes, hyenas and occasionally also leopards tend to frequent the compound during the night at the time when the students prepare themselves for night studies.
Located one kilometre from the tiny Naenokanoka village, the secondary school opened doors for its first students on January 20, 2012.The property consists of five classrooms, two dormitories (one for the boys and another for the girls) and two large staff houses for the eleven teachers, among them 9 males and 3 females.
Being co-learning institution, Naenokanoka Secondary School has started with 300 students, among them 178 boys and 122 girls, most coming from the local Maasai families in the area.Headmaster Masare explained that the Maasai who in the past did not find taking children to school as a very good idea, are slowly but surely changing their attitudes though most of them are still being held back by lack of finances.
“They were delighted to have a school right within their home location, which means they are no longer subjected to incur added costs of transportation for their children,” said the Headmaster.But with local villages located nearly 50 kilometres apart, it may not be enough to have just one school in the division because most students are still being compelled to walk long distances in order to attend classes.
The entire division apparently has just two Secondary Schools, the older; Embarway and the recently opened Nainokanoka, which is just starting.The two dormitories are also not enough, which means other students continue to commute daily and since it is a remote, wildlife infested area, most get discouraged and the school attendance becomes an on and off affair.
The NCAA has provided the school with a Toyota Land-cruiser to assist with the ferrying of students to and from school though this does not take place often. Naisoni Lemayani, a girl student from Alchanimelo village said sometimes people with cars give them lifts to school.But in months like June when mists, fog and rain descend in the locality, most students would rather keep warm at home than attempt to brave the dew to school or be subjected to endure the chilliness of classrooms.
Besides, in the claustrophobic foggy weather, one cannot see beyond a few metres beyond, which means it becomes rather risky when coming face to face with wild beasts.Again the local traditions of the Maasai continue to threaten the girls’ development as some parents still believe that female children must get married whenever a suitor shows up with the dowry.
It is thus important, as far as the teachers are concerned, to have more dormitories that will ensure that the girls are kept safe from suitors and wild animals while attending school.
By Sharifa Mlowezi (SJMC)