Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Reach the Unreachable fuh true!

Traveling through Kenya revealed really how hard life is for some.

Women walking their timber-like frames while carrying the soul of a tribal warrior.
Children walking for what could be miles.
Always in tattered and dirty dress.
By any means necessary they get from Point A to Point B with whatever the load.
It certainly provides a glimpse of what life could have been many years ago in Trinidad and Tobago.
Just out of toddlerhood 
They march with a mean sense of purpose and rhythm 
Children working in the fields  Yuh could run but yuh can’t hide.

On an African compound for the first time.
The brown earth
Houses all around
The car that was
The single standpipe
Toilets outside
Clothes on the line
Modern vs. traditional
Old vs. new

The thick white blanket of clouds covered the village where I stayed.
The quiet, the serenity

Going to the outhouse
Got easier to approach as long as I was armed with my tea tree soap

The children are absolutely phenomenal.
The values in this community are instilled through expectations from elders.

The African village
My African village
Our African village

The mud caked houses are quite ingenious and aesthetically soothing.
What does your country look like?
Very much like this, in many ways., I have a picture in my phone.
I leave the stoop and retrieve my phone
“Oh noooo” as I examined the pictures, then realized I could not access them.
Oh noooo” I repeated. We need the Internet to access the pictures.
When one’s basic needs are not met
and connection to the Internet is the furthest on that list of needs
I begin to realize what  a true disadvantage it is in the competitive global community.
Do you have any games, Naima?”
Only one.  Look, I’ll show you.”
I hand her my iPad and guided her to Scrabble.
We have this board game.”
Ok. Great. Then you can play.”
They play for a bit then revert to the much more interesting option of watching their videos taken in the workshop earlier.
By 4:00 PM, the younger group were seated together and fully concentrated on learning. “Mary had a little lamb.” I continue to be impressed with the level of eloquence in their English. The learning going on can easily be found in their discipline (to learning) and attitude towards learning. Though many have an option for now, NA has eight primary age and seven high school age students.
They performed their scene for the improv unit with intent and focus independently. I look forward to today’s performances.
My bath after the first ever home cooked dinner meal in my new Kenyan family relaxes me for the night. Finally, I was stooping at the compound stand pipe which was opened for me by one of the boys. I brushed my teeth with the audience and wished them a good night.  “Charlene, you can hold onto the iPad tonight.”
Waking and heading to the “shower” in this African compound, very refreshing. The process of living here is so simple and effective.

Raymond is up and already washing the clothing. He reminds me of my brother Ken. The morning routine on the compound includes the sounds of the cocoyea broom sweeping the earth, the clinging of the handle on the stand pipe as water is released only as needed.  Children are up and busy at various chores.
Raymond is clearly “the man” of the compound this morning. He is not a lazy child. None of them seem to be.  “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” I asked him after he told me he is fourteen. “You’ll be twenty four then, so what do you see yourself doing?” “I want to be a narrator” he says with conviction. “A narrator?” I exclaimed. “Yes. I like telling stories and writing.” “Well then, Raymond, you shall be a narrator because you want to.”
Yesterday I took a walk away from the family as they reunited with Maggie in Swahili and their mother tongue. As I stood in my spot, a young girl held a stone in her hand and walked briskly away from an older man. I had seen that older man earlier as we drove in. He was hanging onto a tree with his right shirt sleeve looking wet compared to the rest of the dry, torn, and dirty garment. I wondered if he was drunk then and now I wondered the same thing. They both spoke in their mother tongue so I could understand nothing. Their body language told it all though. Clearly she meant to throw this rock at the older man if he continued doing whatever he was doing. It struck me just then, this image contradicts the respect between the ages I thought existed here. Or maybe she was justified.
So many children and yet without them, would this compound be so lively? Breakfast was simple and again effective.  Boiled eggs and four slices of whole wheat bread. Mama was very surprised that I do not take milk in my tea. It is the custom to serve this to guests. I hope I did not offend her or put her out too much. As I was almost finished, a plate of kale “vegetables” came out. I could not have any.  I was full or so I thought until the “fried bake” came out, "mandazi" as they call it. And, of course, I am delighted from the first bite which tastes so much like my childhood.  I ate both.
I learnt that the mud caked houses are called bombers. This morning we took a drive through Lake Victoria in the Bukoma community.  The locals were “pulling in the nets” as they dragged in their sustenance. Raymond explained the process to me, like a proud tour guide.
The Kulokuma compound is located in the “town” centre. Reggae music is blasting from the main road on this Good Friday. This Easter weekend brings music blasting from the village “discotheque”. I fall asleep thinking about the similarities of this village and my sweet summer retreat village of Lambeau in Tobago.


  1. Beautiful imagery! I can visualize being there through your word craft.

  2. So are awesome. As I read every word I ended feeling a though I was right there with you...experiencing the many emotions you must have been feeling as you lived this story.... love you Sis