This trip is moving so quickly. Perhaps it’s the non-stop nature of the work we scheduled or rather the community scheduled that is keeping us occupied but it is sad to think that in a few days we’ll be leaving Rongo and the Cham gi Wadu community. So that makes this our last weekend here so we thought we’d make the most of it.
Day 11 Saturday 27th January
I’d asked Jerry and Isabel if we might travel to Lake Simbi this weekend. It’s a lovely salt water lake in a volcanic crater on the other side of Homa Bay, near Kindu Bay, about an hour and a half away in the Rongo Bus. We visited there 2 years ago when, there wasn’t nearly as much water as this year and we were able to walk around the lake close to the shore. That wasn’t the case this year, the shore line was much higher and although we could get down to the shore line, and did, we couldn’t walk around it as close to the water as previously. The surrounding grass and vegetation was also much dryer this year. Then it was verdant green and lush, now it was scrubby brown and very dry. Nonetheless, it was still beautiful in its own way. These weren’t the only changes though, the story of the myth surrounding the lake and its mysteries told by a number of local men to earn a few shillings from visitors was elaborated upon by James our story teller this year. He seemed to get carried away as Mac translated from Luo to English for us – although I am not sure why, as James spoke perfectly good English as I discovered when I chatted to him afterwards. Jerry got a little embarrassed by the elaborations in the story, the narrative of which had a tendency to jump around a bit, although the old story was still discernible. This video by Aron Kipkoech tells the story further https://youtu.be/jXqGYxbzuRo
After the story s few of us went to the lake shore to find an old Mumma scrapping the soil by the lakes water to extract the Bicarbonate of Soda or soda ash as they call it. They use it to settle the stomachs of their cattle and fight worms; in cooking vegetables; to clear spots, pimples and other skin conditions and various other uses. Similar to ways in which it is, or was, used by previous generations in Britain. For me this was a lovely way to spend an hour or so but it was soon time to head back to campus.
On the way through Homa Bay, we heard that Raila Odinga – leader of the NASA opposition to Uhuru’s Jubilee Alliance government, former president, freedom fighter and hero of the Luo people was speaking at the local football stadium with other NASA leaders. There was bound to be a huge turnout, and there was, and I feared we might get stuck but we didn’t. Lucky in a way because he is about to have himself sworn in as President – the people from the Nyanza region are convinced the results of the first election was rigged. This is complex affair that I don’t know enough about but I was hear just after the results of the first presidential election were declared null and void. From everything I read and saw on TV it was clear that something didn’t add up but I have no idea what that was. It is a sad fact that in this lovely land, with its lovely peoples (regardless of tribe), corruption is rife. Anyway, we got through easily enough, had dinner and returned to the Pastoral Centre for a chat and a couple of beers.
Day 12 Sunday 28th January 2018
Not too much to tell here from my point of view. The morning was passed with the girls going with Isabel to a salon to have braids put in their hair. They did look great, especially Halima who had her braids removed, her hair treated and put in a sort of loose bouncy curl effect. I know Katie was a little apprehensive about having braids but they look good. Meanwhile Sam, Luca and I did a little shopping and chilled back at the Pastoral centre.
On the pleading of the students I asked for us to be able to skip lunch at Uni so they could eat chips, and who knows what else, at the Treat House. It made them very contented so it was worth it! Meanwhile Mac and I chatted about research and the possibility of him doing a PhD as part of the CM4K partnership. I have already supervised one PhD here to completion (the mediation of intra-tribal conflict and peace building) and have just agreed to take on another (communications for development and gender imbalances). Mac is a great supporter and I think will make a great CM4K researcher so I am happy to encourage him. Whilst chatting we watched his, and that of many Luo’s, team Gor Mahia beat the Leopards in the Kenyan Super-Cup Final. To be honest it was a dull game but Mac’s team deserved its victory. We then watched Chelsea (my team and his UK team) beat Newcastle in the 4th round of the FA Cup. All in all a pleasant afternoon with not much more to say about our quiet Sunday.