Interacting with people from different cultures fascinates me. I am always eager to take in as much as I can from the people I am visiting; their traditions and way of life. I am nosy. LOL! But I am also a trained journalist, so I guess it is a skill too. This post is however not about me(…the number of times I said ‘I’…whoa!)…
The full moon always scares us elephant people. In fact, while others call it lovers night, we call it blood moon. On days when there is a full moon, security around parks is heightened; rangers are on high alert and radios are fully charged. Poachers love the full moon. Easy spotting of their target and easy get away. They work so fast. Then all we find is blood and flesh, in place of the elephant face. Always seeking to be one step ahead, they now use the more advanced night goggles and poach whenever they want. Full moon or not. We are on to them.
Wednesday 8th October 2014, a blood moon is scheduled to be seen at different times the world over, well, almost. A different kind of blood moon. The lunar eclipse. I am seated at the edge of the Ewaso Nyiro marveling at the beauty of the illuminated full moon. It looks different tonight, very very bright with a somewhat orange hue surrounding it making it stand out against the perfectly blue sky. It is breathtaking. A night guard at the camp joins me and says,
“Niliambiwa leo mwezi itakuwa nyekundu”-I am told the moon will be red tonight.
I ask him if he knows why, then I go ahead and try to explain the earth blocking the sun’s rays and what not. He looks at me blankly. Partly because I can’t find certain words in Kiswahili. So I google (21st century lifesaver 😀 ) a lunar eclipse image and show him. He nods, but he still doesn’t understand how the earth can block the moon yet the moon is on the sky that’s on the earth’s rooftop. It’s hilarious. Never thought of it that way. There are many myths surrounding the lunar eclipse around the world, I was excited to hear the Samburu version. Another guard joins us and together they tell me what the lunar eclipse means to the Samburus.
“No one sleeps when the moon turns red. We believe the moon is God’s eye at night. When it is red, it is dead. All the women and children wake up and sing to the moon. They sing a “Surwa surwa” song. A song asking it to wake up and shine bright. The men also wake up and chant prayers to God. We sing healing songs too.”
This can go on for hours, until the moon shines bright again. It is healed.
I marvel at how interesting and fascinating all this is, very different from my culturization.
“The born-towns don’t value the moon as those in the rural areas. All the electricity blinds you. You almost never notice how bright the moon is. How marvelous it is. For us, it is a major boost to our night life. We will notice when its not as bright as it should be.”
I agree. Look up more often Born-towns 😀
PS: Surwa means blue in Samburu. There is some science about the blue and red of the Lunar eclipse here. What a coincidence that the the Samburu song was asking the moon to ‘go blue’ again!!