Acceptance from both sides
"It was [...] a protection against the pain that had to be endured. Like their bare horny feet. I couldn't walk where they walked. [...] what has to be can be endured too. Out of all the people there, I was the only one who knew that it didn't have to be." Eleonore Bowen
What's it like for you?
For more than 25 years I have accompanied the Arbore on their journey through life. I danced with them at weddings and funerals. I have observed, inquired and discussed. At some point, they began to question me as well. The content of the questions often surprised the other one. Our interests are too different, as are our views.
We had conversations about oxen and plows, milking machines, blood sausage and morality. We were constantly looking for words to compare, to explain that things are not quite the same, but similar. I could describe to them lions in the zoo and that we don't drink blood but eat it. Often the Arbore did not believe me, for example how much milk a German cow gives day after day. So my way out was to bring a photo of a black and white cow with her huge udders next time.
Quite normal life
I most learned when I worked together with the Arbore, or at least tried to. Grinding sorghum (failed miserably), chasing the birds in the field (works), herding cattle (most fun) or preparing food (no problem). With Bamira I walked a lot. I went with her to the field or we herded the cattle of the family. Once, as I stumbled toward the kraal at dusk, completely exhausted, another herder called over laughing, "Hey Rufo, what's that new white calf in your herd?" Bamira laughed out loud. To me, the mockery meant high praise.
I had very emotional moments - when I came home singing with Bamira and the herd at dusk and everyone from the clan greeted us with "Na'ugal?". Or when I danced with the unmarried on the village square and the boys tried to catch me with the rod just like the other girls. I also remember some sad moments. Once Bamira quit my friendship at short notice and I was completely devastated for one night. Friends and clan members have died, like Grazmach Gino Sura with almost 100 years or the two newborn twins Balla and Ballo with not even 4 weeks.
I still feel my status as one of their own, as ege Till, is a privilege. Through my integration into the Olmoke clan, I have experienced firsthand the daily life of the Arbore. Children have been born, grown up, married and had children again. Niro, the youngest of my host family, was just able to walk during my first stay in 1993. In October 2013, she gave birth to her first child. She gave her baby girl my name. Now I have a Mogo, a namesake in Arbore.
Daily life and rituals
Researcher, Observer, Narrator