#10 Visit to Maasai Market June 25, 2015
This morning Ben drove me to Nairobi, first stopping by St. Theresa’s convent to pick up communion hosts for the parish. Since he had been given that errand, it was a good opportunity for me to tag along. Ben is good company, knowledgeable and willing to answer my many questions about what I’m seeing, what I’ve observed or anything else.
We met first in 2005 when he was the accountant for Archbishop Ndingi (then) Mixed High School. He was young, not terribly confident, but very sweet. Now he is 11 years older, self-confident and still very sweet. Not long after I began coming to Naivasha, Fr. Kiriti could see Ben was a good man, so promoted him to accountant for the parish. This was after 2 grueling hours in which I’d tried to teach Fr. K how to use Quicken. In the end we concluded he was a great priest, but definitely not an accountant. We were both relieved.
Ben was Fr. K’s right hand man all through the building of SFG, running to Nairobi for supplies, bringing materials to the site from local suppliers, running errands and generally making it possible for a busy priest to run a big parish and still be a hands-on supervisor of the construction process. Here is Ben at lunch today after our shopping, phone to ear—a typical pose.
Several years ago I made the acquaintance of James Njoroge, one of the market vendors. He was a nice person, willing to offer us good prices and able to search out items for me that I couldn’t find in the market. In 2013, when I brought my grand daughter, Maya, to Kenya, he invited us to his family compound, where members of his extended family make many of the items he sells. Young and old sat around a table, chatting and making little animals for nativity scenes, angel tree ornaments, or hollowing out gourds for the nativities. Some nativities were in boxes made of banana leaves or corn husks, cleverly designed and very cute. The only family members who didn’t participate were his very old mother, blinded with cataracts and the young children. It was such a congenial scene and I’m glad we were able to give them some nice business.
The market is held Tuesdays and Thursdays. Other days he opens his tiny booth in a collection of such booths, set so close together that customers can pass only single file.
Here is Njoroge, showing his wares to a customer. Below is his spread. He now remembers that I always bring my own bags, the beautiful cloth bags I buy from Joyce and which I use at home as well as here. I hardly have to remind him, “no plastic.” Ben and I came today with even more bags than we could fill!
I knew what I wanted this year and spent very little time “grazing.” The market is very colorful with probably several hundred vendors, all grabbing at me, “Please Mama, just look at my beautiful things. No need to buy (right!) Just please come look.” It’s so hard to shake off someone whose goods I don’t want, and over the years I’ve learned to walk by such a display quickly so I don’t get cornered. As always I try to remember what items our donors have liked and try to get into their space, but since I myself don’t much like “stuff” it’s hard to know. Nonetheless, I do love going to the market.
Here is the “shop” of a lady from whom I bought beautiful wooden bowls. Her neighbor kindly pulled out this tiny stool for me to sit but when I’d finished my bowl purchases, in insisted I must buy from her. “Remember Mama, I brought you the stool.” She didn’t have much I wanted but I bought a few things, more out of guilt than desire.
The first few years I went it was held outdoors in a square somewhere in central Nairobi. Only Ben or Jecinta could guide Judy and me there. We would blindly follow along, not wanting to get lost in the crowds. Now it has moved to the upper garage of a big shopping mall and can proceed, rain or shine. It’s not as nice indoors, particularly when the dancers begin. They are fun to see, but the drums and the singing reverberate off the walls and ceilings until I really needed to leave. Ah, nice to get outside and away from the loudness.
Back home I didn’t even unpack our bags. I sat down on the bed to read my email, and within 5 minutes a real African rain poured out of the sky. I was so glad we had made it back because while I love those rains, I don’t like being on the road in them. I hadn’t realized how tired I was, but I fell asleep on my bed immediately the rain and slept through M’s knocking my door. Only later when I talked to Julia did I learn she had come. Alas I had forgotten. She’ll come tomorrow and Sunday I’ll have a visit from her and her 2 older sisters.