Radio documentary: The Girls of Kajiado

“The Girls of Kajiado’ tells the story of the young Maasai girls of Southern Kenya and their struggle to remain in education. Their fight represents both a desire to break the bonds of poverty and also a challenge to the traditional role of girls and women in Maasai culture.”

‘The Girls of Kajiado’ documentary aired on Newstalk radio on 19 September, where producer Zoe Liston travelled to Southern Kenya to track the changing face of Maasai culture.

The 1 hour documentary details the work of Irish NGO Aidlink and partner organisation, the Girl Child Network, on issues such as FGM, early marriage and access to education that affect the Maasai girls of Kajiado County, Kenya.

Here’s the summary of the programme from the Newstalk website:

The semi-arid region of Kajiado County is home to many Maasai communities. As nomadic pastoralists, the status of women and particularly girls falls behind that of livestock. Girls are frequently unable to complete their primary education, experience the brutality of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and are in many cases expected to marry at as young an age as 11 or 12. Maasai girls are consequently among the most marginalised and vulnerable people in Kenya.

In this documentary we meet individuals like Gladice, a Maasai girl from the remote region of Lake Tuk Tuk. Running away from home at the age of 14 and turning her back on the only community she has known, she succeeds in completing her primary and secondary education and is now studying in Nairobi University to be as she says, ‘one of the greatest engineers in the world’.

We also meet Dennis a young man trained from an early age as a Maasai Warrior, who against his father’s will returned to education and advocates on behalf of girls to do the same. After refusing to be married to a girl who he describes as ‘a little kid’ he says he ‘does not want to see the lives of girls destroyed’. In this documentary we recognise the central role of boys and men as pioneers for change.

‘The girls of Kajiado’ introduces us to a  community on the brink of massive social change, as many young Maasai turn their back of the traditional life of pastoralism in favour a city life in Nairobi, and all that that implies for Maasai culture in the 21st Century.