Jiggers: the Scourge of Village Life in Africa

Kingdom Driven Ministries is just a convenient vehicle through which saints around the world contribute to the work that God is doing, whether it be in expanding the Kingdom, discipleship, meeting medical needs, providing food for the hungry, or developing clean water sources. We are blessed to have many indigenous brothers and sisters working with us on a daily basis to see that this work is done efficiently and with integrity and compassion. One of our deacons, Silas, felt the Lord’s leading to spend much of his free time during the month of October coordinating with other brothers to reach out into a number of fellowships and communities to remove jiggers.

A jigger infestation of the feet

A jigger infestation of the feet

Jiggers, or sand fleas, are the scourge of village life in Africa. Though they can be minimized by regular bathing and removed one-by-one with a razor blade, one quickly turns to many because jiggers live abundantly in the dirt, and most home construction here is dirt-floor and mud walls. Jiggers conveniently implant themselves in any part of the body that maintains prolonged contact with the dirt—typically the feet, as folks usually walk barefoot, but it can be the knees (if they are kneeling, for example, to weed their crops by hand in their fields), or evens legs or arms (particularly in the case of impoverished children who do not have sleeping mats but rather sleep on their dirty clothes or even directly on the dirt floor). A single jigger is uncomfortable; an infestation is downright excruciating, as  layer upon layer of jiggers lay eggs and reproduce in their human hosts. They are active at night, preventing sleep. Approximately $20 worth of investment enabled our brother Silas to alleviate the suffering of many in our communities, and we praise the Lord for putting it on Silas’s heart and for providing financially through His people. We hope to continue this work as the Lord leads. If you would like to contribute toward this initiative, or other works like it, visit www.kingdomdriven.org/donate.

Silas hard at work

Silas (wearing the mask) hard at work

 

Shoe Repair in Kenya

A cobbler, or shoe repair person, was once not an uncommon sight in America and other developed nations. Nowadays, however, it’s oftentimes cheaper to buy a new pair of shoes than fix an old pair, if it’s even possible to get old shoes fixed. Yet in developing nations like Kenya, shoe repair is still one of the most vital of crafts.

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A shoemaker at his stall

This skill was first introduced by Asians who were employed by the British administration, to make and repair the colonial officer’s shoes. It was not until the Asians were deployed for the task of constructing the East Africa Railway line that the natives of East Africa were trained in the craft of shoe making and repairing.

Over the years this craft has been growing incrementally in different parts of the region, attracting many people to it–often, those without school education who would benefit from learning a skill through apprenticeship.

During the infancy stage of the shoe repairing industry, many people looked down on it and named it, “the work for the disabled and handicapped folks.” This was because of its simplicity and stationary nature. But this perspective has changed due to inadequate employment opportunities, thus forcing even those with education and physical ability to plunge into shoe making industry.

 

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Shoe repair in Kibera slum

The craft of shoe making and repairing is one of the easiest skills that can be learned and mastered. It is also one of the cheapest as far as startup and material costs. Because this craft is not being taught in public school, the only way of learning is through apprenticeship or personal training.

Experts in making and repairing shoes are often employed in big shoe stores in major cities. The shoe stores are typically owned by the Asian people who started the industry in the region. Those who are fortunate enough to find job in the major stores will earn higher wages compared to those who are self-employed.

Most of the small  shoe repair shops are found in highly populated regions, where they can have contact with many customers. Perfect regions for this industry are slums and small towns. However, it is also a successful niche in villages, where people cannot afford to buy new shoes when theirs are worn out or broken.

Repairing a broken shoe is more affordable than buying a new one. Often the charge of repairing a shoe is not more than  20-50 KSH (20 to 50 cents), compared to maybe 1000 shillings for buying a nice pair of work or school shoes. But even flipflops, which might cost $1, are worth repairing here!

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A collection of flip flops and sandals, all repaired for less than $1.

Indeed, the industry of shoe making and repairing has been a great relief to many poor people who had no hope of being otherwise profitably employed. Is true that many families are being sustained and children educated, through the craft of shoe making and repairing. One successful shoe-repair entrepreneur commented,

038I really love this craft of shoe making and repairing, it is a good job and has good money to sustain a man and his family. When my leg was amputated, I thought my life was over and my hope was gone, but God is good He gave me something to do.”

 

 

 

Bukusu Tribe: History and Culture

Kenya is a multi-ethnic state in the East Africa region. It is primarily inhabited by the Bantu and Nilotic population, with some Cushite people.

Bantu are the single largest population in Kenya. The term Bantu  first originated from the Western Africa, Niger-Congo language. Most Bantu people are farmers; they are scattered in different regions of Kenya. Most are found in Central Kenya, western Kenya and Rift Valley. Some of the prominent Bantu groups in Kenya include the Kikuyu, the Luhya, the Meru, the Mijikenda and the Kisii. The Swahili-speaking people are descended from Mijikenda that intermarried with Arab and Persian migrants.

Today I want to introduce you to the Luhya people, as we are working and serving in the midst of the Luhya tribe. Our center of operation is in Luhya land, therefore it’s our highest joy to share something brief about our host people.

Luhya are the second largest ethnic group in Kenya. They number about 5.3 million people, being about 16% of Kenya population. The name Luhya refers to both the people and their language. There are seventeen tribes within the Luhya people. These are Bukusu, Idakho, Isukha, Kabras, Khayo, Samia, Kisa, Marachi, Maragoli, Marama, Nyala, Nyole, Tachoni, Tiriki, Tsotso, Wanga and Batura. Among the Luhya community, Bukusu and Maragoli are the largest and perhaps most organized tribes.

Our immediate area is dominated by the Bukusu, the oldest and largest tribe in Kenya. For students and lovers of culture and tradition, I hope you will find knowledge and insight from this post. Here are some words of wisdom from one of our respected Bukusu elders, who regrets that the rich cultural history of his people has been neglected:

“The Bukusu do not have a functional cultural institution. The elites have not been able to return home and start the construction. If Bukusu can establish a cultural institution with proper leadership, they shall have demonstrated to the entire world that they exist and have a strong culture to cherish. …All historical sites should be done as part of our rich heritage and history for information in the tourism catalogue, so that tourists from abroad could locate and visit these sites.” (Elder Nick Kukubo)

Wazungu (white people) from England were among the first visitors to set foot in Bukusu land. Most of them were explorers, missionaries of different sects, geographers, scientists, farmers, and administrators. They were brought by water steamers through the port of Mombasa as an entry point. They introduced what we call the scramble of colonization through treaties with local chiefs. This was just the beginning of Bukusu exposure to the external world.

Joseph Thompson was the first explorer to walk in Bukusu land on foot,  back in 1840. Men received him as river god, from whence the Swahili name Mzungu was derived. But still some Bukusu men did not accept them to pass through their land.

Bukusu clans have spread all over Western Kenya, Trans-Nzoia and North Rift regions. The Bukusu clan history is documented from about 1650 AD, through their known prophets and seers. These men prophesied that there should come white-garmented people in big baskets that would swallow people and vomit them at their appropriate destinations. This is assumed to be about about vehicles. They talked again about the butterflies carrying people in wings, which would of course be airplanes. They talked about long snakes coming, which was viewed as the railway line that later came through.

Before the Mzungu settlers came, Bukusu people were living on the slopes of Mt. Elgon and other fertile places. Naturally they were small scale farmers, growing traditional crops such as millet. After harvesting, they used it to brew their own beer, busela, and could entertain themselves in the cool of the evening.

The mountain of Elgon forests gave fruits, birds, and honey. The natives hung their beehives, known as Kimisinga, making traditional medicines to soothe throats caused by common colds. Kamalea  was harvested from the shoots of young bamboo stems and pounded together with groundnuts in a mortar.

Bukusu are also known for their very unusual male circumcisions practices, though they don’t practice female circumcision as some other tribes do. In these practices, boys of the age 8-15 are gathered from different families at every even year. The festivals are always full of vigorous dancing and partying, at least for a week’s time. When the final day arrives, all the boys are taken to the riverside very early in the morning for the final ceremony, escorted by the entire village, and must (this the unusual part!) walk back completely naked. After their circumcision they are officially recognized as men of the Bukusu tribe. This practice is one of the important rites of passage in the Bukusu tribe.

I hope you enjoyed this exposure to a small part of African culture, our people the Bukusu.

Greetings from one of our Bukusu elders, whose information was instrumental to writing this blog.

Greetings from one of our Bukusu elders, whose information was instrumental to writing this blog.

 

 

Market Day

012017Sunday is one of the busiest days for the people of our small village. Besides being a worship day, it is also a market day. In many African towns and villages, there is a special day where all people gather together in a central location to purchase the goods they need. These special locations are commonly known as market centers, while the day is known as market day.

Market centers have existed in many of African societies from ancient days. In those days, various communities would gathered together in a chosen and strategic location on a special day, for the purpose of exchanging goods and services. This system of trading was referred as  the barter trade system. Barter is a system of exchange where goods and services are directly exchanged for other goods or services, without using a medium of exchange such as money. These barter days were also known as ” silent trade,” because every community had their own native language and there was no common language; thus, trade was conducted with very little exchange of words.

During the times of trade, it was the main duty of the local chief and the village elders to identify the best locations and separate the special days for this activity. When regional trade came into existence, communities were forced to select another location which was easily accessible by all the communities involved in the trade activities. This was the beginning of the modern trade centers and market days.

Every region had its own trade centers and specific days to meet.  As well, different communities had their own unique commodities that were their trademark. This specialization is what gave rise to these market centers. One group were well-known producers of farm produce, while their neighbors would only produce animal products. Communities along  water bodies were known for fishing, while  their neighbors were gifted in art and crafts. For these communities to easily benefit from the diversity of production, it was a must for a common and special location and day to be established.

Our village market center is among the oldest markets that emerged as a result of this ancient trade practice. Unlike the ancient times where trade was through barter, today people gather from different communities every Sunday to exchange and buy services and goods using the medium of money.

Traders from different communities bring their products every Sunday morning for the purpose of selling or exchanging them, or in some special situations they will return to the old practice of barter. Farmers will bring their farms’ produce: grains, vegetables, eggs, and fruit. You will find also different household stuffs: plastic furniture, clothes and shoes, kitchen utensils and items, bedding materials. This is also a good day for different fundis, (or, “experts” in Swahili) to market their services. These include: mechanic, boda boda (motorbike) transport, barber services, shoe repair, tailoring, local medicines, and many more.

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Market days are not always peaceful and orderly. Because many people from different communities are present in the market center, it is not uncommon to witness incidents of violence, chaos, theft, physical and verbal abuse, sexual harassment, and other forms of vices. Nonetheless, the county government has always striven to provide a conducive atmosphere and suitable trade environment by employing security personnel during market days. This is to ensure that trade is not disrupted and also to check upon the hygienic condition of the market and the quality standards of the products in the market center.

 

Games Kenyan Children Play

020Children love to play. In every country, culture, home and continent, children play. Playing fulfills a vital role in childhood development. Without games to play, physical and mental  development of the children will be delayed. The basic similarity between a black child and a white child, an African child and an Asian child, a Kenyan child and an American child is that all have games they play. The only difference is in the types of games they play.

Since the dawn of civilization, Kenyan children have been playing many different games. Some of these games still exist today, while others melted away when the heat of technology and other online  games were introduced in the land, especially in the cities and urban towns. In the villages and communities where modern and western games have not found lodging, children continue to play their traditional games.

Among the common games that Kenyan children play is the tricky hide and seek; this takes at least the minimum of four children. One child will be asked to close his/her eyes or be hoodwinked with a piece of cloth so that the rest will run and hide in secret places; after few minutes the seeker will open the eyes or untie the cloth and start to seek others. In this version of the classic game, an object is placed in the center of the playing ground; if the seeker discovers the hiding place of one child, he runs to the object and hits it. The one who was discovered first will become the seeker in the next round of game. And if all the hiders hit the object before the seeker reveals them, he remains to be the seeker.

Many boys love to play marbles, known as “banta”  in Swahili. Often it is not really marbles; it can be nuts, seeds, stones, or dried fruits. Boys also learn how to make kites using plastic bags, strings and sticks. Often only “city boys” are expert in making kites, as compared to their village comrades.

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Children playing with fruits, as marbles

002In the neighborhoods where old and worn out bicycle, motorbike, and vehicle tires can be found, they become a playing tool for the children. You will find that rich children will play with vehicle tires taken from their parents’ cars, while the poor children will play with bicycles tires. Regardless of the form and type of the tire used, it is no less amusing to see them endlessly propel the tire forward with any good stick(picture on the right, a child with an old bicycle tire).

Girls plays with dolls made from old pieces of clothes, wood, or even plastic. Those who have parents in a good position financially will enjoy playing with real dolls.

Football (soccer) is the most common game Kenyan children play, both in the urban towns and rural villages. You will find children from different estates or villages coming together every evening after school and every weekend to compete in this sport. Many children cannot afford to own a real leather ball, but this to the children is a little matter. Almost every child knows how to make a paper-made ball. These balls are made from rolling plastic bags and tying them firmly together using ropes.

Skipping and jumping rope is one of the favorite games for young girls, especially those of lower grades (class 2 up to class 5). This game starts from the ankle, working all the way up to the neck. You only need a skipping rope, but many use stockings as an alternative to the ones you can buy at the store. In the game, two players stand on each end of the rope, swinging it in a circle motion, often while singing a song. A third player will start to skip and jump in the middle, as the rope turns. The two players on each end start swinging the rope low, which is easy for the jumper, then gradually progress by lifting the rope higher and higher to the knee, the thigh, then waist, until the third player can’t jump any higher. While the girls enjoy skipping, boys will find much fun in long-jumping and hopscotch. In most schools, children are taught these games as physical education.

Bird hunting, swimming, bicycle riding, fishing, and swinging are among many other games that village children love to play. Play is a universal need for children; only location and available resources determine how it will be met.

 

 

Shopping in the Village

What does it look like to live in a developing nation without electricity, without supermarkets, without automobiles, without all the myriad of things that many people use every day? What does it mean to live in a village where supermarkets don’t exist? A village with very small shops with very few items? This scenario is typical of many small, African villages.

Life can be simplified in two ways: voluntarily, or involuntarily. Simple living asks, how little can a person live with and be satisfied? Or perhaps, how much a person can live without and still be comfortable? Poverty can serve as a strong catalyst in simplification of one’s life. Poverty itself can also be either voluntary or involuntary.

Because of the simplicity of many villages of Africa, supermarket is among the unfamiliar terms which very few people will understand. Small canteens and tiny shops (usually called duka) are what serve the order of the day. Supermarkets are only found in bigger cities and major towns. In the village duka, you won’t find the secondary needs on the display, only the basic needs. You won’t find the luxurious things of life, only the necessities. Here you won’t purchase monthly supplies, only daily supplies. In a supermarket, customers can walk through the aisles and pick up what they need. A duka is usually fully closed-in; customers choose from visible inventory and the shopkeeper passes it through an open window.

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Some people in the villages never see the inside of a supermarket

Most villages have at least two to five shops, which meet all the demands of the villagers. These shops sell only basics and primary supplies that are necessary for the welfare of the families. The shops usually all sell similar commodities, which mainly are  food stuffs and other basic needs: sugar, bread, rice, cooking oil, wheat flour, salt, soaps and washing detergents, sodas, tissues, sweets and few other things. The quantity of washing detergent is usually 10 or 20 grams–enough to wash the day’s clothes. Sugar, and even fresh milk, are sold in quantities as small as 1/2 cup–just enough for the day’s chai.

As the old adage says, the earliest bird catches the worm; so, too, are the shopkeepers who wake up early in the morning. Because all village shops sell similar commodities, it is only those shopkeepers who open their shops very early and stay open after the sun sets that will make a higher profit. An average shop will make about 300-500 KSH ($3-5) profit every day, but this profit might change during the harvest seasons as the circulation of money will be higher at those times.

These shops are normally open early in the morning at around 6:30 a.m, and close late in the evening around 8:30. Usually women are responsible for running the shops during the day while men work in different areas, often farming. A shopkeeper can serve a minimum of 30- 50 people every day, depending on the time he/she opens the shop.

In many villages the task of running a shop is undertaken by the average, bright minds who are able to deal with little calculations, keeping records, giving accurate balances and accounting. Shopkeepers are viewed as a life -line of village life and a main cornerstone of the community foundation. These small village shops have uplifted the living standards of the village people, providing sources of employment and boosting the economic growth of the nation.

 

Man and Food

Naturally, man does a lot of things in his few and brief fleeting moments under the sun. Some of his daily activities seem so mundane yet very vital and important for his survival. Many take the ordinary activity of eating for granted, offering it little attention or reverence. But in reality, food is essential and vital for every living species in the universe. Food is the well spring of life and vitality.

No doubt, both the man in the White House and the poor man in a mud and grass house need food to gladden their souls. A king and a slave both need food to satisfy their hunger. Both rich and poor rise every morning and retire late in the evening to toil and labor for their daily food. Food is the focal point of man’s life; the only point where both races meet, and the vital activity that all living beings share in common.

The entire process of man’s deception, seduction and manipulation revolved and centered on the subject of food ( fruit ) and the eating (see Genesis 3). Crafty serpent fully knew the weakness of mankind laid on their vulnerability and dependence on food;  he deceived where it was hard to resist.When God cursed man, his punishment also rested on the matter of food:

Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it  all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you,  and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow, you will eat your food…

In another ancient account, the man Abraham  demonstrated his hospitality and generosity to his divine guests by preparing and offering a delicious meal,

      So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. ” Quick,” he said, ” get three seahs of fine flour and knead it and bake some bread.

” Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it. He then brought some curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them. While they ate, he stood near them under a tree.” (Genesis 18)

Jacob deceived his old father Isaac with a palatable lamb meal, and thus stole Esau’s blessing ( Genesis 27). And again Jacob robbed poor Esau’s birthright with a delicious stew ( Genesis 26:27).

In the gospel account, we also learn of the vital role that food had in the life and ministry of Jesus,

Meanwhile the disciples were urging Him, saying, ” Rabbi, eat.”
But He said to them,” I have food to eat that you do not know about.
So the disciples were asking to one another, ” No one brought Him anything to eat, did he?”
Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.” ( John 4:31-34).

In His compassion to the multitude of the people, He fed five thousand with two pieces of fish and five loaves of bread ( Luke 9:12-17), and four thousands in the second account. In the parable of the prodigal son, Jesus used the celebration and killing of a calf to symbolize the value of food in the spiritual and physical life of a person ( Luke 15:11-12), in the Lord’s prayer He instructed the disciples to remember asking for their daily bread,( Matthew 6:11), He further made it clear the cause of man’s anxiety and worries under the sun, is food and clothing, ” For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” ( Matthew 6:25)

From the Biblical accounts to the present day, food plays a  fundamental role in every man’s life and every community.  Man needs his food to survive; thus, the creator of life has allowed sun and rain to help the land to produce all the food varieties ever known. Every community has their traditional foods, every family their staples, and every person their favorite.  Each food has its unique preparation and preservation.

In Kenya,  food plays an important role in uniting families and enhancing stability in the communities. Urban folks have different foods compared to the village folks. Most average village families, just like those in the West, take three meal a day: breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Breakfast is often milk tea and a few slices of bread. In other homes corn meal porridge is the favorite morning meal. Families gather together for the morning meal. In a Christian family, the father, who is the head, will lead the family in prayer and thanksgiving. In the case of a traditional family, libation will be offered to the ancestors. A normal breakfast will cost at least  50KSH (50 cents) every day. Breakfast is normally eaten between 7 and 8 AM.

A002fter daily tasks and duties are done and the children are back from school, the family will come together again for their second meal. Many families in these villages use githeri (a mixture of maize and beans) as the best meal of the day, perhaps because of its high starch and heaviness. People’s main food, especially for dinner, is Ugali or fufu (corn meal). Ugali is a starch dish made from maize flour, which is stirred in boiling water to make it solid and eatable. It often goes well with greens or beef stew.

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Githeri for lunch

Of course, in the village, cooking is done in large pots over three stones (see Water and Fire, part 2).  Even making  a simple meal like githeri requires much time in sorting beans and cleaning maize; to say that many villagers eat this simple meal doesn’t show the many hours of labor involved in these efforts. May this article stir your reverence and appreciation to God for the gift of food for nourishment of man’s body. Remember to share your meal with the less privileged and the hungry.

Kingdom Driven Ministries is blessed to partner with those who care about feeding the poor; we  stock bags of maize (our community’s staple food) in the KDM office, which our church’s deacon gives to those in need (both from our fellowships and in our community). We want to offer a hand up, not a hand out, so we give 1 Kg per person per week, except in special circumstances. Thank you to all those who make this giving possible!

 

 

Public Education In Kenya

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School uniforms are required, differing based on the school of enrollment

Education holds a great promise for the lives of young people, the growth of nation,s and the strengthening of communities in general. Nowhere will you find more people say that “Knowledge is power” or the promise of a future, than here in East Africa.

Education prepares our youth to be responsible young adults as they look forward to taking on greater responsibilities in the world. Learning how to solve problems, and building desire and capacity to learn, represent the fundamentals of real education. The prevailing view in our area is that education is the means of creating a better nation–free from poverty, diseases and ignorance.

The nation of Kenya has came a very long way in establishing and re-establishing its  public education system over the years. The first missionaries who came to the land, Johann Ludwig Krapf and Johannes Rebmann (in the year of 1728) worked with a Swahili manuscript Utendi Wa Tambuka (Book of Heraclius) and established the first mission schools in the country at Rabai, in the coast of Mombasa in 1846. The zeal and thirst for education was stirred and aroused among the people of Kenya. Both government and non-governmental organizations have given education higher advantage, and invested heavily in its provision.

After the end of colonial administration, Kenya government began a campaign to give free public primary education in 1963. Since then, the system and structure of education has undergone transformation and reformation three times. First the system of public education was established in the format of 7-4-2-3: 7 years of primary education, 4 years of secondary education, 2 years of high school and 3-5 years of university education. This system resembles the British public education,wherein children begin their elementary ( primary) education at the age of 7 and complete at age of 13 after sitting for final examination.

In the year of 1985, a new system was introduced, 8-4-4: 8 years of primary education, 4 years of secondary, and 4 years of university education. Two weeks ago, the ministry of education introduced a new system of 2-7-3-3: 2 years in kindergarten, 7 years in primary school, 3 years in secondary school and 3 years in university.

Public Primary Education

Since 2003, education in public schools became free and compulsory. This resulted in high pupil enrollment, overwhelming the number of teachers. In some parts of the country it was reported that one classroom contained 100 pupils with only one teacher. Primary education is free by law. Parents are, however,  required to provide essential supplements that are needed in the learning environment which Kenya government cannot provide: school uniforms (at a cost of 8000-10000 KSH, or $8-$10), fees for desks (500-1000 KSH), lunch fees (1000 KSH) and extra-curricular activities fees (500 KSH).

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Children at our village primary school

Primary education begins at the age of 6-7 after completion of 2 years in kindergarten. The first class or year of primary school is known as standard one, and the final is standard seven. Primary children are called pupils. School semesters at both primary and secondary begin in January and ends in November. Students get three school vacations in April, August and December. The school day starts at 8 a.m and finishes at 4 a.m, from Monday to Friday. Depending on where a child goes to school in relation to home, he may get up while it is still dark to begin the long walk school.

Public Secondary Education

Public secondary schools are divided into three levels: national, provincial and district.. Pupils with the highest scores from primary schools gain admission into national schools, which are more prestigious and offer quality education compared to provincial and district schools. National schools charge higher fees than provincial and districts schools, at least 70,000-80,000 KSH every year. That’s $700-$800; if the average daily wage is 500 KSH, or about $1750 per year, that’s almost half of a family’s annual income! However, if one is accepted into a national school, few parents would refuse to struggle and make payment.

Pupils with average grades will find admission in provincial and district schools, which are still difficult for families to afford. An average provincial school charges 40,000-50,000 KSH ($400-$500) every year, while the district schools might charge only 10,000-20,000 KSH ($100-200) per year. School fees are paid in three terms. In 2008, the government introduced plans to offer free secondary education to all Kenyans, but this has not been successful implemented.

Principal subjects offered in public secondary schools are: English, Swahili, Mathematics, History and Government, Geography, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Religious Education, Business and Agricultural Studies.

 

Even free primary school has fees that add up and challenge the average family; once one or more children are enrolled in secondary school, paying school fees is a constant challenge and a burden. However, even those we would consider the most poverty-stricken willingly sacrifice to give their children as much education as possible, as an investment in their future. Currently, Kingdom Driven Ministries  does not assist with paying school fees for children, except in very special cases, simply because the need is just too great. However, we ask you to pray for all of the parents in our towns and villages who want to give their children  the very best hope for the future, and struggle so much to provide it through education.

Africa Funeral and Burial Ceremony

Every family, community, nation and race, in one way or the other, have a set of values and practices which they adhere to and accept as part of their lives. These beliefs and traditions are what give different groups of people an unique cultural identity.

Culture is simply cumulative experience and knowledge, values, attitudes, religious practices, notions of life and death, and concept of origin of the universe. Tradition implies the handing down and transferring  from generation to generation, either through written records or oral delivery.

Let us cast our spotlight in the continent of Africa. Africa is made up of not less than 53 nations, and each nation is further divided into many small groups known as tribes. Each tribe has its own culture and traditions, which distinguish it from other tribes. In the nation of Kenya, there are total of 43 small tribes which makes the people of Kenya. Each tribe adheres to different and unique cultures and traditions.

Despite all their differences, the tribes have something that they share in common–the rites of passage. Every tribe has a certain evolution, from birth until death. Rites of passage are a very important part of many African tribes; they are considered to be sacred and vital for the survival of the community and identity.

“Rites of passage play a central role in Africa socialization, remarking the different stages in an individual development, as well as that person’s relationship and role to the broader community.”  (Alik Shahadah)

There are four important rites of passages in Africa communities, namely;

  1. Birth
  2. Puberty
  3. Marriage
  4. Death

Today we will focus on death, funeral and burial in African culture and traditions. These rites are among the most sacred and significant in many of Africa’s communities.

African view of Death

African tribes view death as a final rite of passage where the soul is passing into an invisible and continuous phase of existence. Death brings both sorrow and joy to the community. Communities mourn because a member is finally making a sacred transition into the spiritual realm; this member will never be seen again by mortals. These are periods of great distress and bitter lamentation from the community, especially women and children.

On the other hand, is the great moment of joy and gratitude, and is viewed as a blessing for one member to be called by the ancestors to join the company of ancestors, and be among the spiritual protectors and  helpers of the community. Death is a sacred journey from physical reality into spiritual world. That explains why most communities have special preparations for the dead; the process is very crucial and vital. In ancient cultures and traditions (such as ancient Egypt) people would be buried with different objects to assist them in the next life, such as weapons, tools, clothes, money and precious items to take as gifts to the ancestral spirits.

Funeral ceremonies

Funerals are taken very seriously. They are sacred, unique, socially binding and expensive affairs. There will be long or short mourning periods for the deceased, based on their age, gender, and prominence in the community. For a child it may take only three to four days of mourning; for women and “ordinary” men, it will take at least a week’s time. For prominent and respected men, like chiefs, senior elders and spiritual leaders, the funerals often take at least two weeks time.

During the funeral ceremonies, lineage rituals are performed and gifts and donations are offered to the family of the deceased to help with the heavy costs associated with the ceremonies. Slaughtering of animals for meat is a very common tradition during funerals. For the prominent and respected members, not less than 10 to 20 bulls will forfeit their lives to feed the mourners and please their ancestors. Unfortunately, this extravagance leaves the families more miserable and poverty-stricken after the funeral ceremony is over. But despite this, it is a sign and mark of respect for the dead, hospitality for the mourners, and reverence for the ancestors.

Burial Ceremonies

Burial ceremonies are done based on the faith and religion of the deceased. If the deceased was a traditionalist, his burial will be conducted in traditional ways; if they were Christian, it will reflect those beliefs, and if they are Muslim, then it will be according to Muslim traditions.

Traditional burials are always led by elders and traditional priests, who will pour libation and offer food to the ancestral spirits, accompanied by rituals and sacred rites performed to express the appreciation and honor for the life of the deceased. Chanting and dancing to invoke the spirits is a significant part of the traditional burial ceremonies. Is good to understand that all these rituals are to venerate the ancestors but not to worship them. Ancestors are not gods, but rather are perceived as the spirits that link the living men with a living God.

In a Christian burial ceremony they will sing hymns, offer prayers at the chapel with the coffin placed in the middle of the chapel. Sometimes the service will be done at the funeral home’s chapel or in the cemetery chapel. The priest or the pastor will lead the mourners in worship and glorify God for the life of the deceased, then preach a sermon of comfort to encourage the deprived family. Special candles may be lighted and passed around, or an icon of Christ or one of the saints may be placed in the hands of the deceased. After the sermon is over, friends and relatives will be allowed to view the body and offer the words of comfort to the family, then the coffin will be carried to the burial site. The priest will make a final prayer before the body is lowered  into the grave.

Muslim burial is very brief and, unlike other traditions, is done immediately after the death occurs. Muslims are encouraged to remain calm and composed after they hear the bad news of death. They will close the eyes of the deceased and cover the body with a clean piece of sheet. Its is forbidden for mourners to wail, scream or lament. The deceased will be washed carefully by one of the family member with clean and scented water. The body will be wrapped in a clean, white sheet, (known as kafan), then transported to the final prayer site (salat-I-janazah). These prayers are often done in open places; in a courtyard or public square, but not inside the mosque. The local Imam will  lead the mourners in prayer, which are silently recited. The body will then be taken to the cemetery for burial. While all the members of the community are allowed to attend the prayer ceremonies, only the men of the community are allowed to accompany the body to the burial site. After the burial is done, the relatives and friends of the deceased observe a three- day mourning period.

Currently, Kingdom Driven Ministries does not use general funding to provide for funeral expenses; however, we have great compassion on those who struggle to provide an honorable burial for a relative. With the cultural tradition of not refusing anyone to attend a burial (and having to feed everyone who comes), the expense is great. When one of our own brethren is responsible for the bulk of funeral expenses, we actively solicit special donations specifically for that need and have our deacon(s) assist with organizational details. If one among our brethren dies, we also will make sure one of our ordained leaders is available to preach at the burial service.

 

 

 

 

Kenya Public Transport

Kenya public transport refers to air, road, railway, and water transport–the means by which people get from Point A to Point B. Of course, not every mode is available to everyone.

KDM's Glenn Roseberry, boarding a small aircraft for inter-Kenya travel

KDM’s Glenn Roseberry, boarding a small aircraft for inter-Kenya travel

Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Moi International, and Wilson Airport are the leading public air transports in the East Africa region. These three airports link East African nations with each other and with  the rest of the world. Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, earlier known as Nairobi International Airport and Embakasi Airport, is the leading public air transport facility in the region. It serves daily an average of 19,000 passengers from Africa, Europe and Asia. The airport was named after Kenya’s first prime minister and president, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta.

There are also  airstrips that facilitate small aircraft, connecting the capital city, Nairobi, with other small towns: Kitale, Eldoret, and Kisumu airstrips.

Uganda Railways service was the major public transport in the region back in the  ’50s and ’60s. It was managed by East Africa Railways and  served Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. After the dissolution of East Africa Region in the year of 1977, the nation of Kenya took over the management of the Uganda Railway and all of its local branches in Kenya. The most important line in Kenya runs between Mombasa and Nairobi. In many parts of the country you will see rail lines, but you will never see any trains. Railway transport is no longer available in many parts of East Africa. An interesting read in the public domain about the building of these railroads–relating the excitement and danger of running the lines through lands dominated by “the Big Five,” including some man-eating lions–is The Man-Eaters of Tsavo.

Kenya also has a major international port in Mombasa, serving both Kenya and Uganda. Lake Victoria is another big port, which has a ferry that connects Uganda and Tanzania. It is  only Mombasa that has a commercial port that reaches international standards. Mombasa’s commercial port is called Kilindini Harbor. Under the management of Kenya Ports Authority, it is located on the Indian Ocean.

Road Transport–not as Innocuous as it Sounds…

Of course, in our area, the masses are limited to road transport to get from point A to point B. If you live in the West, this sounds pretty innocuous–but let’s take a trip together and you’ll see a few differences in the way things happen here in Kenya.

021Public buses and matatu (mini-bus) are the cheapest and most popular modes of transport in the cities and towns of Kenya. For those who cannot afford to own private vehicles or hire a private taxicab or rental car, this type of public transport remains the best and only option.

Public buses and local matatu provide both short and long distance travel. Buses are mostly found in the cities and major towns of Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru, Eldoret and Kisumu, while matatu are common in small towns and rural regions. Buses are often preferred, as they are much safer, quieter, more reliable, and trusted, compared to matatu, which are filled with loud music to attract travelers and have chaotic road schedules with frequent stops.

Buses and matatu provide express services between major cities and towns across the country. Often fare is paid on board. If you are making a long distance travel then you will  be required to do earlier booking, which can be done at the booking office before the day or time of travel. Buses carry many passengers compared to matatu, which is limited to not more than 14 passenger on each trips. (Of course, this is by law, but many carry more if they can get away with it.)

For many years, the matatu sector was known as the most dark and pathetic industry in the country. It had been linked with violence and reckless driving, resulted in many road accidents and  loss of lives–even  permanently handicapping some passengers who were fortunate enough to escape death. Other criminal activities have unfortunately been associated with the sector, such as mistreatment of the passengers, verbal and physical abuse, theft,  hijacking, sexual harassment, and even murder. At various points, government interventions have tried solve these various issues, but some challenges remain.

Boda-boda

Another reliable mode of local transport, particularly within larger towns and cities, and out in the villages, is boda-boda (motor-bike taxis). They often connect small towns with rural villages, where vehicles are scarce or even absent completely. They also provide a quick, cheap, and trusted means of accessing the most crowded and congested cities. Boda-boda industry has been a great blessing for many people by providing a source of employment for thousands  of young people in many African countries

Public road transport in Kenya is one of the most exciting and intimidating experiences you can ever encounter in your  life time! This experience generates both fear, horror and delight in foreigner visitors. These vehicles all travel on rough roads full of potholes and random (unmarked) speed bumps.  Many of Kenya’s major roadways are under construction, with diversions slowing down travel in many cases. Travel by boda-boda in the villages is often on narrow paths, which are downright dangerous to navigate in rainy season. After your travel is over, you may find that you whisper to yourself, “My goodness, it was a nightmare–and  an exciting journey.” Getting around Kenya can be at once horrifying and challenging  for those travelers who are not used to driving in congested and crowded environments, or even rough, dusty, unpaved roads. For those who live here, though, it is an accepted part of everyday life, and we are thankful for the modes of transportation that connect us, as well as the continual improvements that are being made.

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