Saturday, 6 December 2008


On my first visit to Kenya in September 2007, I planned to visit Kisii for a day or two to meet Vincent, Abigael and, of course, the children at the home.

I drove there with my associate, Muindi, and arrived late on Saturday evening, and after a wash and a meal, we were taken to the annexe to our host's house where five or six orphans were being housed.

When we entered, the room was in darkness. The light was switched on and before me was a bunch of kids sitting around a table, waiting for their supper. The smallest, who I later found out was Josephat, was sitting on a stool in the corner of the room. Upon seeing me, his eyes widened, his jaw dropped ... and he fell off his stool! I have never had that effect on anyone before, but Josephat was only just 4 years old and had never seen a mzungu.

Of course, the other kids laughed at him, but he didn't care. He soon composed himself and with a big smile, planted himself on my lap, where he stayed until I had to leave.

The following day, a Sunday, most of the kids met up at "the plot", all in their Sunday best. I had a bag of small presents donated by the people in my village, toothbrushes and pencils. I felt very awkward, giving out such mean, small presents.

But the kids were delighted. Just imagine giving a UK kid a toothbrush and one pencil as a present.


Jojo was the first to call me Baba Mzungu (Swahili for White Daddy) and before I left Kisii, he made me promise that I would return.

Of course, I did, the following March, and he was my shadow for the 10 days I spent in Kisii.

The only problem is language. Jojo speaks about two words of English and I speak not many more of Swahili. But it doesn't matter, we sort of understand each other.

And, whenever Jojo does try to speak English, he always precedes it with the word "English".

So, he might say, "Bab' Mzungu - English - Josephat good boy."


Wamuhu Mwaura said...

I've lived most of my life in the States, spending only a small chunk of my childhood in Kenya (from the age of 2 to the age of 7), but my father was very traditional and considered the Western philosophy of gifting your children extravagantly to be some sort of idiocracy. Still, when I finally did revisit Kenya in my late teens, I was humbled to realize that despite the fact that my father never gifted extravagantly, his practical gifts to us were much more than most children in Kenya can ever hope to receive.

Dad Mzungu said...

I like the sound of your father!
I am dead against the "Western" shopping free-for-all at Christmas. We have lost the meaning of Christmas.
The kids at the home in Kisii might get pens, clothes (second hand) or other things they need.
They ask for toys, knowing very well that they will not get them, not because we don't want to give them, but because most of our money goes on food and medication.
When I go out next year, we will have a party and I will provide games for them.