“Maasai are people who are deeply rooted to their culture, no one is allowed to question an elder let alone our ways of living, so we had no voice” says Sonyanga. “But with the discovery of the power of sport – cricket in our case, with the traveling and gathering ideas and bringing them back to apply them in our society, this really shed some light of hope for us. We applied the principle of the saying that ‘the eye that leaves the village sees further’. With our cricket we have travelled abroad several times and we have gathered a lot of perspective and we brought this back to let our society realise what we have actually learned. We realised how women outside are enjoying equal rights as men, we learned that FGM is not really that important in a girl’s life, how important it is for our girls to continue with school rather than giving them away while they are still young. So our elders could actually picture the whole scenario and little by little, start changing, but they must always all agree since the culture is so deep rooted to them”.
With the success of the Warriors documentary, Sonyanga talks of its message and what he hopes might be learned from the film: “Warriors is a very powerful documentary which is very motivating, encouraging and educational. It shows the power of sport and the importance of education in our societies. The Warriors film can be utilized in schools or other organizations as a tool to spread messages on FGM, and it can be used to encourage other young people to stand up, to fight against FGM and fight for gender parity in their societies, The film can also be used to motivate, unite and to spread the message of peaceful coexistence through sports. It can really be lovely to include Warriors film in the school curriculums globally, because I truly believe in the power of it”.
A percentage of the profit from Warriors will go back to a trust in the Maasai community, which will be used to create an education centre for young people in the region. “With the centre there is a lot of hope” says Sonyanga, “since we will use it in many ways. First it will be a place where girls and women receive education from experts regarding their rights. It will be a place where girls can find refuge, with health facilities for the community, together with sporting facilities, and of course, cricket!”.
So what of the cricket? Sonyanga continues: “We have been teaching cricket in many primary and secondary schools in our regions because that is where we can get our messages through to a good number of children. Girls get a chance to compete with boys, hence realising that they are as capable as the boys. Girls realise that they actually have a space to fight for in their societies and a chance to realise their talents. Personally with this realisation I figured out that I needed to start a ladies cricket team, and I named it Maasai Cricket Ladies. The point here was to have a ladies team equal to the Warriors team, and it is even more powerful! The idea here is that now girls get to stand up for their rights, and they educate their fellow girls on the importance of avoiding FGM, whilst using the same sport that Warriors use to spread the messages. So you can imagine the combination, Maasai Cricket Ladies with the Maasai Cricket Warriors? So powerful I believe. To me this is young people uniting together for a well informed and a healthy society”.