#8 A Walkabout in Naivasha and a Visit to a Kikuyu Chief Sunday, June 24, 2012
Yesterday Njeri dropped Heather off with us, then went to Nakuru to visit her brother and her 3-month old niece. We grabbed our every-present cloth bags and headed for the “old supermarket”, my one-stop shopping center in those early years. I had not seen it yet this year so it was fun to wander up and down the aisles and reminisce about the old days. Much has changed in Naivasha, but the old store remains much as I remember it from 2005 – the narrow aisles, the up-ramp to the back of the store, the hardware off to the left. Upstairs is shoes and clothing, bedding and linen, appliances and furniture.
It’s a long trudge back up the hill to our little house. I wanted to go via the back alley again for old times sake. There was one area that I used to avoid b/c it was where the glue-sniffing street boys hung out. However I haven’t seen any of that this year. I know efforts are being made to get them off the streets where they commit petty crimes, mostly theft, to support the glue habit. Several organizations have established homes where they try to rehab the boys and get them into school. I’m sure I’ll learn more about this as time goes on. Anyway, we trudged up through the alley, along the plastic strewn by-ways, stepping over muddy ruts and potholes. The smells are sometimes pretty strong, but very familiar. A lot of building has occurred in this area, but the passageway remains open, so we got to the lower gate by the bore-hole. The parish pumps water through a device that removes about 85% of the excess fluoride from the water and sells it at a reasonable price. Much is sold through boys/men who fill 2 50-gallon containers then peddle the water as they drive the donkey carts through the residential area. It’s so painful to watch how they beat those poor animals as they struggle to pull the heavy carts. Unfortunately the full barrels go uphill and the empty ones come down.
Earlier I had called my old friend Simon to see whether it would work to come visit him — it would.
I met Simon in 2005 when I first went to Ndingi. He was one of 4 math teachers. During that visit and in subsequent years I grew very close to 3 of them. Simon particularly took care of me, bringing tea every day at 11 and a plate of lunch (always more than I could eat) a couple hours later. I visited his classes, along with those of Regina and Cecilia, taught some lessons, discussed math issues and teaching techniques.
None of them is still at Ndingi. Regina teaches up the hill in Kingangop, Cecilia is in Narok in Massailand teaching at a girls school, and Simon has left teaching. Several years ago he applied for the job of chief and was hired. It is actually a government position mainly to provide arbitration at a local level to resolve disputes w/o recourse to the courts, which is costly, time-consuming and subject to great corruption. He has a small office to which he reports each day, accompanied by his elders, generally 2 or 3. Sometimes it is very difficult b/c he is young (40’s). If the disputants are older and they don’t like the decision they may refuse to comply. By Kikuyu tradition, it is not the place of the young to dictate to the older. Even the presence of the elders may not force them to accept the decision—particularly in disputes over land. There are laws concerning most of the disputes and he is quite assiduous in consulting the law. However many of the people in his area are ignorant of the law. On occasion he must call upon his police assistants to enforce.
We drove up past SFG to where he lives. He came running up to the road to greet us and ride up to the small village where his office is. Here is a picture of the 2 of us in his simple office. Note the picture of the president of Kenya on the wall behind his desk.
He is quite a remarkable man, with a beautiful smile, a ready wit and a fair mind.
Going back, he invited us to his house for tea and to visit his family. I had met them all last year, but Judy and Heather had not. His wife was in the middle of her laundry, out in what one might call the driveway. She’s a very welcoming person who put aside her chores and seemed genuinely pleased for our visit. Here is Simon, his daughter, friend, wife and son.
Upon learning about Heather’s adoption of an Ethiopian child, he quipped, “Why are you going to Ethiopia? I’ll give you one of mine!”
He showed us the house 10 feet from his that he inherited from his mother some months ago. He is renovating and expanding it to fit his family better.
Judy and I produced a great dinner. She cooked and I made the salad. Njeri had brought us 2 big bags of goodies, mostly wonderful produce, mangos, avocados, lemons, eggplant, asparagus as well as a can of coconut milk and some mango chutney. We ate early so that Heather and Njeri could leave before dark (7pm at this time of year). Fr. Kiriti is very cautious about being on the road after dark, so I didn’t want them to take any chances.
This morning they joined us for 8:30 mass, but went back to their fancy hotel by the lake for breakfast and to view the animals. They’ve seen giraffes, hippos and waterbucks from very close. Lake Naivasha is known for the hippo population. They leave the water and come up to the grass to graze in the evening. They are very dangerous, so the hotel management does not allowed guests to walk around w/o a guard. Last night they were maybe 15 feet from a mother and child, but the animals were bent on their dinner and paid no attention.
Njeri has now returned to Nairobi and Heather has moved to a much humbler accommodation in the rectory, in the room Judy used in the early years, before we moved up to the children’s home. We all took a rest time and now Judy and Heather are preparing dinner. I am staying away b/c I am catching a cold and don’t want to infect them.
All for now,