These were the words of an 86 year-old Maasai woman I met this summer. When I went on my Weston A. Price-funded trip to Kenya this past August, my objective was to teach the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) principles everywhere I went. But before I even landed in Nairobi, my Maasai friend, Dickson told me by phone,"You teach...and you learn." And so it came to be.
One of the people I learned from was Meyanik Ene Ringaq, the 86 year-old above. On a Sunday morning, she dropped by the home of our Maasai host, Dickson. Dickson served as our interpreter as we conversed. I've highlighted key bits of the conversation. Here are Meyanik's unvarnished thoughts:
- on what she ate as a child
When we were young, we just fed on the milk from the cow.
- on pneumonia
Right now, if it rains, every woman just gets to put on her children, heavy clothes, rain clothes, and sweater to try to prevent pneumonia. They say if they are exposed to the cold, they will get pneumonia, but before there was no pneumonia. There was nothing like pneumonia. If it rained the kids would just go outside and play with the rain water and not get sick. And if they have rain on them, they just get the milk from the cow, when it is warm, they just take it and they don’t get sick.
- on pregnancy and infants
Expectant mothers, pregnant women, they didn’t go to the hospital. When they delivered, the first thing they were given is the blood, because they figured the blood they lost during delivery can be replaced from the blood from the cow.
So the child, small baby, is raised by milk and the cream. That is the only food; that and breastfeeding.
- a personal story: her daughter's pregnancy and labor
I have a daughter who is married and just had a baby about a month ago. I went there to stay with [them] before she delivered. But when my daughter and her husband went to the hospital for a check up, they were told that she needed to deliver in the hospital because her hemoglobin was low, so there was danger if she delivered at home. But when they came home, I advised my daughter that there is no need to go to the hospital, that she should deliver at home. There are traditional medicines (herbs and roots) that are used for pregnant women. So I just went to the forest and gave her herbs and bark from the tree, and every time I gave the herbs boiled and mixed with blood...to my pregnant daughter. When the delivery time had come, she just delivered at home. There was no problem.
It’s better to stay with the traditional ways, than just getting all the shots, all the medicine because it’s just like we are taking poison in our bodies.
- on the differences between the old and new generation
When we were children, when we were youth, we just used simple traditional diets, we wouldn’t have to go to shop and buy things. Compare C. (Dickson's youngest child, a 7 year-old) with the children from before. She’s a bit fat and having a big body. But the older child, the traditional, who used to eat traditional food, they are more stronger than these children. Because they got the fat from the milk.
People are getting sick because they are ignoring their God-given traditional ways which are very, very, very important.
- on why traditional diets are losing ground
The culture of traditional diets is changing because of education. Before, we did not have any thoughts from the outside. But now...there is a lot of interaction.
If we get people...to help us direct our community back to the old traditional ways, like having seminars for them, we can help them talk and try to get our children back to the old ways. So at least, so that they can have education, but education doesn’t change their cultural or their traditional diets. Let the education change their mind, like knowledge, but not change their diets, their traditional diets, which I believe is like an everlasting life for the community.
I’m very grateful that you have this idea of coming to tell people to go back to their old ways, their original culture, because that is where we come from.