Herbert Watschinger

Name ID 1625

See also

Pearson, John Hunters of the Plains
Page Number: 064
Extract Date: 25 April 1977

Lefti wheeli

It was nearly midnight when we reached our destination. The moon was up and in its light I could see people hurrying

towards us, not just from one boma but several. Most of the men appeared to be moran - young warriors. They were remarkably silent. On each forehead gleamed the silver ornament they use to tie the braids of their hair together. The uniformity of their dress and the stylized grouping of the warriors as they stood about us seemed utterly mediaeval. Our guides came up, said `Goodbye' and then departed. Several older men then approached and one of them spoke to me. I couldn't understand a word he said.

`First he say they want thank you for coming,' David translated.

`Now he say they give you goat for present.'

`Thank him for me please and ask him if they will keep the goat until we return.'

A lengthy discussion ensued. `He say they bring goat to camp tomorrow,' David told me. I guessed that he had decided the offer of the goat was too good to pass up.

`He say they want us to take this man to Loliondo. Not to Ngorongoro. Doctor at Loliondo very good,' David went on. This was Dr Wachtsinger, almost a legend in this part of Maasailand.

`Alright,' I said.

`Now he want to know if you want money for petrol.' `No.'

At this, the old man and several moran came forward and one by one they shook me by the hand. They asked if I would wait while they fetched the man's father from a nearby boma as he was to accompany us to Loliondo. After that the gathering started to break up and things became less formal. A crowd peered into the car. Several times I felt myself touched by people who, I don't doubt, had never been this close to a European before and couldn't resist the temptation to make, sure he really was flesh and bone.

After about an hour, all was ready. The injured man was led out, walking, but supported on either side. In the moonlight it was impossible to make out the extent of his injuries. They got him into the back sitting position and then four other Maasai crammed themselves in as well. One sat in the luggage compartment. The usual collection of spears and other assorted weapons of war was stowed away on the floor.

This time, unlike the first leg of the journey, our passengers were not moran but elders, and now a constant stream of advice flowed from the back. `Faster' . . . `Slower' . . . `Go back' . . . `Forward' . . . `Turn left' . . . `Now right' . . . one of them even knew a few words of English. `Lefti wheeli' he kept saying.

Extract ID: 4489

See also

Pearson, John Hunters of the Plains
Page Number: 069
Extract Date: 26 April 1977

We reach the Loliondo Hospital

In daylight the journey wasn't difficult. We found where we had made the original mistake and it was exactly where Lefti Wheeli said it was. But Loliondo was much further on than I had thought - only 16 miles from the Kenya border, in fact. We'd never have made it on the one tank of fuel after first climbing up into the Gols. So at least I had the consolation of being right, even if not quite for the reason I'd originally had in mind.

We reached the Loliondo Hospital at 1 o'clock. The good Dr Wachtsinger came out, examined his new patient, and handed him over to the sisters to clean up. While that was going on he took me off to have lunch. The green lawns, the white paint, the neatness and order after the mud and shambles of the last few days made it seem as if I had suddenly been released from a lunatic asylum. `I'm always telling them not to treat breaks like that if there's a wound underneath,' said the doctor, `but they never listen. And those wounds aren't 3 days old like they say. It has to have happened at least 10 days ago for them to be in that condition. And if it happened all that time ago why didn't they bring him to me in Piaya? I was there last Tuesday.'

. . .

The Maasai's chances of survival would have been pretty slim if he hadn't received medical attention at that stage. In remote areas of this kind you frequently receive requests for help from the local inhabitants. To most of them though you have to turn a deaf ear. Of course, you would like nothing more than to drive one of the elder's wives 8o miles to visit her sick mother. But in the first place you are there to film and not to run a taxi service, and in the second there is always the faint suspicion that the heart-breaking tale of woe with which you are currently being belaboured is little more than a stratagem designed to achieve some quite different end.

Extract ID: 4491

See also

1994 Publishes: Watschinger, Herbert Don't Give Up Hope

Extract ID: 4304