DER Documentary

The Womens' Olamal The Organization of a Maasai Fertility Ceremony

by Melissa Llelewyn-Davies
Produced by British Broadcasting Corporation
color, 110 min, 1985

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"If you bear children, your husband loves you. A woman who hasn't given birth is like a wilderness. And when her husband dies, if she has no children, she'll be shooed away by the sons of his other wives."

The Womens' Olamal follows the events that preceded a controversial ceremony in Loita, Kenya, to bless the women and to increase their ability to have children. This film, presented in observational style with limited commentary, depicts some of the tensions between men and women in Maasai society which, in this case, erupt in a violent row between them. Explanations and insights are portrayed in interviews with the women themselves.

The events are seen through the eyes of four women: Nolpiyaya and Kisaju, who have four and nine children respectively; Nolmeeyu, a barren woman near menopause; and Kisaro, who is beginning to worry that after ten years of marriage, she too may be barren.

Loita is a Maasai district which is now divided in two by the international border between Kenya and Tanzania. This political partition complicates the womenUs aspirations for a ceremony. There was a rumor that another ceremony was to be held in the Tanzanian section of Loita to wash away the sin of a homicide, yet tradition dictates that ceremonies connected with death are not to be held in the same season as those for fertility.

Related Films
Diary of a Maasai Village series
Maasai Migrants series

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