Sojourn in Kenya: Surveying the Ancestral Lands

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Sojourn in Kenya: Surveying the Ancestral Lands

by baldilocks

I spent two days at my father’s ances­tral lands in Many­atta, Awendo – no Inter­net – on which his per­ma­nent house is being built. Judg­ing from the time it takes to get back and forth from Nairobi by car, I had orig­i­nally though this land was 400500 miles away from the cap­i­tal, but I’m used to inter­state high­ways. Slightly less than 300 miles takes longer on two-​lane paved roads and the occa­sional bumpy, dirt road. As I men­tioned in an ear­lier post, Father and his wife live in Ron­gai, but Many­atta is his birth­place and the place to which he will even­tu­ally retire and be buried, like his par­ents and sev­eral other rel­a­tives. We went to Many­atta because also on the land is the home of my only brother, Charles, and his wife, Lil­lian. Sur­round that par­cel of land are other parcels belong­ing to var­i­ous mem­bers of the Otani-​Ochieng clan. The land orig­i­nally belonged to my father’s father, Nicanor Otani[1], and his brothers.

It’s weird for this Amer­i­can to know that there are ances­tral lands for my fam­ily. But my life has been a half-​century of weirdness.

There are two large gates to the land, one for Father and one for my brother. There is elec­tric­ity in but it’s spotty; we spent sev­eral long time peri­ods hav­ing our faces lit by oil lamps and flash­lights. There is no cen­tral plumb­ing or gas yet, but there is a well and fam­ily cook­ing is done the old-​fashioned way.

[cap­tion id=“attachment_81739” align=“aligncenter” width=“225”]Fresh Water Fresh Water[/caption]

[cap­tion id=“attachment_81740” align=“aligncenter” width=“300”]Cooking without gas Cook­ing with­out gas[/caption]

I think my bro could teach Amer­i­can prep­pers a thing or two. He also has chick­ens and cows, but it seems to me that no self-​respecting Kenyan man-​of-​the-​land is with­out at least four cows. I saw so many herds while on the road that I will be think­ing about steaks for a month.

Aside from a night dur­ing which my intesti­nal tract reminded me that, no, Toto, we are not in Cal­i­for­nia any­more, the time was fas­ci­nat­ing and heart-​warming, if a bit bewil­der­ing. The day before I returned to Nairobi, all local fam­ily and friends gath­ered to meet me, honor me, and wel­come me home.

More pho­tos from Many­atta here and here.

[1] Among the Luo, it’s not cus­tom­ary to take the last name of one’s father. Each kid gets his/​her own last name. The name is deter­mined by the con­di­tions under which the child is born, i.e. morn­ing, noon, night, rain­ing, etc. The last name also varies in the spelling with regard to gen­der: girls’ last names begin with A, boys’ with O. With West­ern and Islamic influ­ences, many Kenyans use their fathers’ last names, but some still don’t. How­ever, even those who use the Euro­pean sys­tem of nam­ing still have a “mid­dle” name; more accu­rately, a sur­name and a patronymic.

[cap­tion id=“attachment_81746” align=“alignright” width=“150”]CharlesO My brother. This was the first time we had met in per­son. Ever.[/caption]

Since I was born in the US, I was given my father’s last name, but I have my own sur­name: Akinyi. It’s per­mis­si­ble to call me by this name alone, but in my fam­ily, it can get con­fus­ing. One of my sis­ters has the same surname.

And Luo have taken their own spin on the name game. My brother’s name is Charles Otieno Ochieng and his old­est son is named after his grand­fa­ther: Philip Ochieng Otieno, Jr. Of course, every­one calls him Junior. Between the sur­name and the patronymic is the unspo­ken “son of/​daughter of.”

OH. ONE MORE THING:

I leave for home tomor­row. Final trip log(s) will be here or at baldilocks on Tues­day at the lat­est, assum­ing I’m awake by then.

Juli­ette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was pub­lished in 2012. Her sec­ond novel, ten­ta­tively titled, Arlen’s Harem, will be done in 2016. Fol­low her on Twit­ter.

Please con­tribute to Juliette’s Projects JOB: Her Kenya Trip Expenses, Her new novel, her blog, her Inter­net to keep the lat­ter going and COF­FEE to keep her going!

Or hit Da Tech Guy’s Tip Jar in the name of Inde­pen­dent Journalism — -»»

baldilocks

*************************************************************************

While Baldilocks is in Kenya I’ve had a busy day. After mass moved fur­ni­ture for DaSon #1 mov­ing out Cov­ered the Gov­er­nor mak­ing an appear­ance in a local race (That will go up tomor­row) and did some leg­work for a local pro-​life repub­li­can, didn’t get a chance to get our email blast out till 6:30 which likely explains why for the first time in a while we’ve seen a day when our DaTip­jar and our $61 a day goal hasn’t moved a bit. We’re already behind 20 days for our annual goal and with the lay­off I’d hate to see it our back­log expand so if you are both able and inclined I’d really appre­ci­ate it if you’d help us close that gap by hit­ting DaTipJar.

[olimome­ter id=3]

Please con­sider Sub­scrib­ing. 114.5 more sub­scribers at $10 a month will get the job done for the year and will get you my weekly pod­cast emailed directly to you before it goes up any­where else.

Choose a Sub­scrip­tion level
Beanie : $2.00 USD — weekly
Cap : $10.00 USD — monthly
Hat : $20.00 USD — monthly
Fedora : $25.00 USD — monthly
Grand Fedora : $100.00 USD — monthly

Either way thanks for read­ing and don’t be shy about let­ting us know what you think. One can’t improve with­out critique.

by baldilocks

I spent two days at my father’s ancestral lands in Manyatta, Awendo–no Internet–on which his permanent house is being built. Judging from the time it takes to get back and forth from Nairobi by car, I had originally though this land was 400-500 miles away from the capital, but I’m used to interstate highways. Slightly less than 300 miles takes longer on two-lane paved roads and the occasional bumpy, dirt road. As I mentioned in an earlier post, Father and his wife live in Rongai, but Manyatta is his birthplace and the place to which he will eventually retire and be buried, like his parents and several other relatives. We went to Manyatta because also on the land is the home of my only brother, Charles, and his wife, Lillian. Surround that parcel of land are other parcels belonging to various members of the Otani-Ochieng clan. The land originally belonged to my father’s father, Nicanor Otani[1], and his brothers.

It’s weird for this American to know that there are ancestral lands for my family. But my life has been a half-century of weirdness.

There are two large gates to the land, one for Father and one for my brother. There is electricity in but it’s spotty; we spent several long time periods having our faces lit by oil lamps and flashlights. There is no central plumbing or gas yet, but there is a well and family cooking is done the old-fashioned way.

Fresh Water
Fresh Water
Cooking without gas
Cooking without gas

I think my bro could teach American preppers a thing or two. He also has chickens and cows, but it seems to me that no self-respecting Kenyan man-of-the-land is without at least four cows. I saw so many herds while on the road that I will be thinking about steaks for a month.

Aside from a night during which my intestinal tract reminded me that, no, Toto, we are not in California anymore, the time was fascinating and heart-warming, if a bit bewildering. The day before I returned to Nairobi, all local family and friends gathered to meet me, honor me, and welcome me home.

More photos from Manyatta here and here.

[1] Among the Luo, it’s not customary to take the last name of one’s father. Each kid gets his/her own last name. The name is determined by the conditions under which the child is born, i.e. morning, noon, night, raining, etc. The last name also varies in the spelling with regard to gender: girls’ last names begin with A, boys’ with O. With Western and Islamic influences, many Kenyans use their fathers’ last names, but some still don’t. However, even those who use the European system of naming still have a “middle” name; more accurately, a surname and a patronymic.

CharlesO
My brother. This was the first time we had met in person. Ever.

Since I was born in the US, I was given my father’s last name, but I have my own surname: Akinyi. It’s permissible to call me by this name alone, but in my family, it can get confusing. One of my sisters has the same surname.

And Luo have taken their own spin on the name game. My brother’s name is Charles Otieno Ochieng and his oldest son is named after his grandfather: Philip Ochieng Otieno, Jr. Of course, everyone calls him Junior. Between the surname and the patronymic is the unspoken “son of/daughter of.”

OH. ONE MORE THING:

I leave for home tomorrow. Final trip log(s) will be here or at baldilocks on Tuesday at the latest, assuming I’m awake by then.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel, tentatively titled, Arlen’s Harem, will be done in 2016. Follow her on Twitter.

Please contribute to Juliette’s Projects JOB: Her Kenya Trip Expenses, Her new novel, her blog, her Internet to keep the latter going and COFFEE to keep her going!

Or hit Da Tech Guy’s Tip Jar in the name of Independent Journalism—->>>>

baldilocks

*************************************************************************

While Baldilocks is in Kenya I’ve had a busy day. After mass moved furniture for DaSon #1 moving out Covered the Governor making an appearance in a local race (That will go up tomorrow) and did some legwork for a local pro-life republican, didn’t get a chance to get our email blast out till 6:30 which likely explains why for the first time in a while we’ve seen a day when our DaTipjar and our $61 a day goal hasn’t moved a bit. We’re already behind 20 days for our annual goal and with the layoff I’d hate to see it our backlog expand so if you are both able and inclined I’d really appreciate it if you’d help us close that gap by hitting DaTipJar.

Olimometer 2.52

Please consider Subscribing. 114.5 more subscribers at $10 a month will get the job done for the year and will get you my weekly podcast emailed directly to you before it goes up anywhere else.

Choose a Subscription level
Beanie : $2.00 USD – weekly
Cap : $10.00 USD – monthly
Hat : $20.00 USD – monthly
Fedora : $25.00 USD – monthly
Grand Fedora : $100.00 USD – monthly

Either way thanks for reading and don’t be shy about letting us know what you think. One can’t improve without critique.