We went to church this morning in the slums. It was a great experience. I snuck out of church for awhile to visit the children. There were about 6 children there. The woman leading them was Carolyme. She introduced herself and all of the children to me. She says she prays to be a teacher some day. The children sang for me – the words of the song were something like “I went to Uganda, I asked people if they knew Jesus.” It was funny hearing their version of a missionary chorus – not unlike what we might have sung years ago.
The only teaching tool I could see in the classroom was a small ball of dark play dough that looked like it had been handled by too many dirty little hands. The children all had to share that one ball of play dough. There was nothing else in the room, except for a few chairs and tables.
Carolyme introduced her 2 daughters to me. She said she also lost a son eight years ago. He was 6 months old.
During the church service (back in the adult session), we all had to introduce ourselves. They seemed quite honoured to have a group of Canadians in their midst.
After church, we went for lunch to a Somali restaurant on top of a building – we had to climb at least 5 flights of stairs. The food was wonderful. We ate camel and rice with raisins, and cabbage and some wonderful fruit for dessert.
I spoke with the man who preached in church (a lay minister – I can’t remember his name, but he gave me his card). He’s a consultant in development work – says he “sells ideas”. He talked a bit about his philosophy on the problems in Africa. He says the missionaries are to blame for many of the problems. He said that western missionaries came to Africa with money and no evidence of accountability. They educated the youth, and those who’d been educated by them eventually ended up in the government. Because they’d witnessed the missionaries operate without accountability, they in turn became corrupt and not accountable to anyone. It was an interesting idea, and I’m sure it has merit.
We also sat with the Bishop. At another table, Dan married off his son to a young girl who was at their table. She saw his picture, and found him attractive, so Dan negotiated with her Mom for a dowry.
After lunch, we headed out of Nairobi into the countryside – into the Rift Valley. We had our first animal sightings – giraffes, zebras, gazelles, and antelopes. We drove into the Maasai region. Maasai are beautiful people with lots of beadwork and colourful clothes. I got my picture taken with a Maasai woman.
We ended up in a Maasai village, in the Ngong Hills, at the foot of Mount Suswa. We were welcomed at Najile Boys High School – a boarding school for boys. There are about 200 students there. The welcoming party included some amazing Maasai dancers and a choir. There was a warm welcome and lots of speeches. We had to introduce ourselves to the students and community representatives gathered. The boys showed a particular fondness for Rachel, the 19 year old member of our group.
Supper was served to us at the school. We ate goat meat and rice and cabbage and veggies.
We’re now in tents we set up in the farmyard we’re staying at. Rachel and Joyce and Joy and I are in one, the guys are in another, and the rest of the girls are inside the house. The house was built by the local community for the pastor of the local Presbyterian church.
There are goats about 15 feet from our tent. One of them – the billygoat – was particularly noisy. It’s bleating sounded like the cries of a wounded child. The guys just got up and duct-taped its mouth shut. It was quite a comical moment – watching the guys parade across the yard in their underwear, heading to the goat pen. I couldn’t resist taking a picture of the goat with duct tape over its mouth. Thankfully, the goat is quiet now.
Here’s hoping I sleep and don’t have to get up to pee.
While we were setting up the tents, a young boy dressed in Maasai clothing came to see my watch. When I showed him that it glowed, he laughed out loud. After that, he kept coming to press the buttons.
We’re having to get used to using “squatty potties” – drop holes where toilets should be. It takes some practice getting your aim right.