The Last Maasai Warrior
He stared at the babe in horror. Sianoi staggered backwards and fell, sending his shield and spear clattering into the rocks … His mind reeled as he tried to recall the omen contained within the story of the child born holding a stone. … He must know, for before him was this newborn child, with a stone in not one, but each of his tiny palms.
In 1904, the British government promised to leave the Maasai alone on their traditional lands – for so long as they shall exist as a people. Seven years later, that promise is shattered, and the Maasai must choose between war with a powerful enemy and a long, perilous walk to the land allocated them by the British. Ole Sadera has risen from village scapegoat to leadership of his people. Now, they look to him for answers, while he struggles to understand their changing world – and to resist his forbidden desires for another man’s wife.
British administrator George Coll arrives in East Africa to face impossible choices of his own. Should he watch a previously peaceful people be unjustly thrown out of their homeland, or help them to resist? And can he ask the woman he loves to share the ticking time bomb that hangs over his head?
The Maasai gather to make their historic decision … and an Empire holds its breath.
With the author behind the Scenes of The Last Maasai Warrior
Who can resist a story of rampaging African tribes fighting for their homeland against ‘the thin red line’ of British authority? I can’t. Add an idealist, torn between duty and conscience, and the attractive widow to whom he dared not reveal his true feelings, and you have the novel I simply had to write, but for some time was too daunted by the enormity of it to even make a start.
The Last Maasai Warrior is adapted from the pages of history, a history expertly documented by Dr Lotte Hughes* whom I visited at Oxford University while researching the story. Even with the volume of facts at hand, I was still unsure whether to attempt it. Unfortunately, history does not roll from its pages like a novel. It is filled with many complicated characters – too many to do justice in a work of popular fiction. And then, particularly in the case of the Maasai land resettlement agreements of 1904 and 1911, a host of technical terms of eye-glazing complexity. How then to encapsulate the essence of this great story without annihilating history in the process?
My solution for the legal techicalities was to concentrate on what happened rather than why, although answering the latter might have led to a gripping courtroom drama which, fortunately for my sanity, isn’t my genre. I have reduced the number of characters in the narrative while trying not to unduly compromise its factual essence.
The names of the Maasai characters have been changed to avoid any disrespect to their memories but also to recognise that land tenure and ownership is very much a live issue in modern-day Kenya.
* “Moving the Maasai – A Colonial Misadventure” by Dr Lotte Hughes (Oxford: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006)