Sopai! I send greetings to you from Eldoret, Kenya, Africa, where I live with my family.
My name is Joseph Tepelit Ole Jukawe. I am said to be thirteen years old (I really don't know how old I am). I make my living as a herdsman. I help my family raise cattle; I am responsible for their safety, their well being. In fact, cattle is my very reason for existing.
We have over 100 head of cattle. We know each one by name, each one by marking, each one by temperament. My favorite is a gentle red-and-white heifer I call Mgele.
Where I live it is hot, dry most of the year. Sometimes during the months of March to November we have welcoming, nourishing rains, but not always. Sometimes we have terrible droughts that threaten our way of life. When this happens, we have to move, or else the cows (or us) may very well perish.
I am the eldest of thirteen children. There are eight bulls (boys) and five heifers (girls) in our immediate family. There are also the adults: my two mothers, my father, my half brothers and sisters, my grandparents. In all, there are twenty-eight family members. We all live in a peaceful enkang (village), where we all look out for each other.
Out of all my brothers, my favorite is eighteen-year-old Parnyombe. He is a warrior-in-training; he is expected to be very brave, courageous. If he shows fear, he will be mocked by all in our village; it is considered weak to show emotion, fear in our tribe.
He has a most beautiful, lyrical singing voice. Most mornings we hear him greeting the day in song. I hope to learn to sing as well as he does. I would love to sing to my cattle, to my family, make them proud of me.
My favorite animals are cheetah. The cat that cries. They are so beautiful with their spotted, tan-to-golden short-haired coats, baleful amber eyes that miss very little, and tiny, round ears. They are most swift runners; at their fastest speed, cheetah can be clocked at going over 60 miles per hour chasing their prey.
I love their sweet, tear-lined faces, and to hear their soft, high-pitched bark always brings a smile to my face. I do worry though when it is dry; am afraid cheetah will try to get one of our smaller, weaker cows. This is when I try to chase them away.
The animal I fear most is lion. Lions are very dangerous. They can kill humans if provoked, and they are fierce hunters, predators. Whenever I hear them roar, I pray that I don't get discovered or eaten up. When lions are about, we put our cattle in a fenced-in area covered by thick brambles, pray that lions don't get in, eat our cattle.
For them to do so would be most disasterous for us. Cattle bring us food, drink, clothing, wealth. To lose our cattle would make us destitute. That is my greatest fear.
I don't know what we'd do if we lost everything to famine or to lions. I guess I would just lie down and die.
Well, I have to take care of the cattle. They are bellowing; they sound frightened about something. I pray it isn't another lion marauding about; lions absolutely terrify me.
I will write in here again soon. Until later, this is Joseph Ole Jukawe saying so long for now.