March 19, 2008
I’m wading through a ton of memories, notes, digital recordings, and pictures of Kenya. To me, this is the hardest part of researching. I constantly ask myself if what interests me will also interest a reader. Today I’ll share two very different stories, similar only that they cut across our culture and theirs. I think you’ll relate to both.
You can probably picture this from mental images you have of Kenya: Maasai men jumping high in dance, brilliant red and blue shukas, or tunics, fluttering in the breeze, spears in hand, dark bodies glowing in the sun, beaded necklaces bouncing as they leap. Suddenly ring-a-ling. One of the dancers reaches under his shuka to grab his cell phone before it rings again. Yes, we laughed! Remember this the next time you’re in a movie and hear an errant cell ring.
Here’s another: The children in several nearby houses gather to walk to school. No, their mothers say. You have to wait. “But we’ll be late,” they fret. “No matter,” their parents tell them. “You can’t leave until the road is clear.” They wait…and wait. Finally, their parents tell them they can walk down the road but be careful and stay together. Sound typical? Yes, except that they have a long walk, about 5 kilometers, or over three miles, to school. And what was in the road? A herd of elephants. Jackson told me this often happened to him and his friends, but the teachers welcome students from each village whenever they safely arrive.
Incidentally, Jackson spent less than ½ hour to walk those 3.1 miles in what he calls a “fast walk.” I wouldn’t bet against a Kenyan in a marathon!