Friday, April 30, 2010
Sunday, April 25, 2010
The tribe that tigers and leopards fear; THE SANYE FOREST WTCH WARRIORS
CHECK OUT THIS YOUTUBE of the Sanye tribe! It’s nuts! Definitely worth checking out! They can climb any tree to gather food.... also, my title makes more sense
Stories from past generations reveal to us that the Sanye tribe were originally from Shungwaya and then settled in Iwizoon of the banks of the Tana River where they are currently settled within the Lamu and Tana River districts.
The community is made up of 7 clans: Walunku, Wamanka, Ebalawa, Ilam, Digilima, Simtumi, and Radhotu – speaking in sharp dialects that can compare to Xhosa in South Africa.
They hold suspicion toward outsiders since their territory was taken over by Swahili and Pokomo farmers in a resettlement scheme during the 70s. In 1977 hunting was banned so the tribe abandoned hunting and gathering and took on farming.
Although some members of the tribe try to become literate, school is not a primary focus for these isolated people. The Sanye are focused on the forests and take immense pride in their land. A local resident by the name of Mohammed Ali Baddi says, "They are so much at home in the forest that they can hide there without being seen." In fact, if visiting the Lamu and surrounding communities, you will think you are in a deserted village. They take much comfort in their forest, spending most of their time there and rely on it for medicine as opposed to nearby hospitals.
"People take us to be primitive because our way of life has not changed” says Sanye elder, Alio Batie. One herb in particular, mavumbani, is used to make a drink similar to tea. They use aromatic herbs to make beverages and heal people. Some tribes call them ‘witches’ as witchcraft is a major part of their lives. Every Thursday evening they gather at the tree in the middle of their village where they dance around a fire to cure the sick if the herbs fail in helping the illnesses. The Sanye believe that evil spirits can sometimes possess people and that an exorcism in the form of dance can solve health problems
Friday, April 23, 2010
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Monday, April 19, 2010
taboos, and so on than others'
we used to walk three miles in the snow every day to get
(rather than date of birth), various environmental factors,
history) and the limited availability of that age-set
of a person, all have specific transitional determinants
so it's not the same as using age ranges.
our society as adults? (18 yrs, right?)
would require there to be a role available
to keep responsibility ratios even
-famine, high infant mortality rates,
droughts, and other environment-based
circumstances will affect the ratio and
in turn affect the progression of each
of its members
Since, generations are determined by the label of their
regiments,for each community within the Meru, the
separation of generations is the events that occurred
during the the regiment age-set of that time.
Using regiment age-sets to determine generations and
generations to keep track of past events creates a more
personal history and the paradigms of thought that
instinctively relates the people of an event, instead of
-my source for this blog, Jeffrey Fadiman, When
We Began There Were Witchmen, wrote this
anthropological book based on the interviews
of Meru elders in the late 1960s(hahahaha that's
our historical thought system!). They were able
to provide him with their history beginning
-off the top of head, what were your
ancestors doing in 1708? I have no clue,
I don't even know what my family name,
matrilineal or patrilineal was in 1708.
I don’t think Michela Wrong is making excuses for Kenyans, she is trying to demonstrate the different reality and does so very effectively. Will we have to bribe anyone in Kenya? After this chapter I will almost be surprised if we don’t.
Koigi was to some extent corrupt when he accepted that land, but I think he felt that his excuse that his family needed it justified accepting it. He felt it was unethical, or he would not have talked abut his friend that Sara mentioned as being stronger then him and gone to such lengths to justify it to us. But like other people in a high position he was expected to look after his family. It is hard for me to really understand his position and put myself in his shoes, but I think I would have accepted the land too.
My family’s belief is more like Wrongs father’s then her mother’s. Not my entire family, but in general we have always been a little removed form economic and social conflicts and convinced that cheating and steeling is wrong because it damages the economy. And an unproductive economy is bad because many of my family members “buy into” (pun intended) the common capitalist belief that what is good for the corporations is good for the people because it helps the economy.
Choosing superior ethic is like trying to choose from shades of gray. Everyone wants to secure their position in life for themselves and their families. Are you willing to put your ethics before your family? That is an oversimplification but it seems to be what Wrong is implying when she defends their acceptance of bribes. And it is very easy for us to say that this or that is wrong from our secure homes typing away on expensive laptops. Even if the families are not part of the deciding factor, many people would still take bribes to get ahead. As Senator Dianne Feinstein said, “Whinning may not be everything, but losing has little to recommend it."
Up to 20 percent of the Kenya's economy relies on its horticulture export market — a sector that has been completely frozen by the flight ban. European florists, in particular, rely heavily on this East African nation. The head of the Kenya Flower Council told the BBC that growers have been forced to destroy 3,000 tons of flowers since last week, with devastating effects on the local economy.
My understanding of corruption has been magnified; colonialism bred tribalism and with it corruption. Wrong's parents view on the world create an interesting paradigm, and are both valid viewpoints. My family's take on integrity, and my own, follow her mother's questioning, individuality and trusting our own instincts, not necessarily the governments'. At the same time, there is respect for laws that we believe better society. In such corrupt world, it is important to be realistic--to watch out for your own interests, to hold the government absolutely accountable, to question authority and the status quo. On the other hand, there is a lot to be said for conforming to the rules of society; if no one does, than society will not move forward, and corruption will be perpetuated. I think both aspects have their place and time; but most often a balance between the two should be found.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
The part about trying to find a pristine and unvisited beach, and then keeping it that way was disturbing in its reality. I spent winter block in Mexico kayaking on the coast, at every camp site there was signs of previous campers, or other people camped there already. It took us hours of driving and/or kayaking to reach these sites but no mater how remote there were other people already there. the attraction to these places is destroying them.
Monday, April 12, 2010
There are people who travel from all around the world to the Southwest, in the middle of nowhere, down a dirt road with 2 miles on foot to reach a beautiful work of art. If the traveler had been aware of the same piece of art at a museum 10 blocks down the street, they might never had taken the time to travel that short distance. All we really want is an adventure.
And this desire to travel on the unbeaten path is something that we are willing to pay a hefty price for. These adventure travelers will disturb communities--pay them big money and change their previous way of life.
Maybe we can do a dinner and a movie night when everyone's schedule settles down.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
The word Somali comes from SOO and MAAL that means, "Go and Milk it." Three thousand and four hundred years ago was when Somali was ever mentioned. Queen Hatsebshut of Egypt sent a fleet of five ships and a crew of two hundred and seventy five men to Somalia. The Egyptians called Somalia "The Land of Punt," meaning the land of spices. Between the Somali and Egyptians, they traded goods such as jewelery, gold, myrhh, ostrich feathers, elephant tusk, and etc.
In the 9th century Ibn Batat the great berber traveller visited in Mugadishu, and wrote about every details containing well fed people, beautiful flowing clothing, exsquisite food, and the powerful sultan.
The Somali are a pastoralist (sheperd), and agriculturalist (farmer). They are a tracing descent society that organize themselves by clans. Who they are related to and who they descend from is very important. There are two main clans: Samaale, and Sab. The Samaale clan is democratic and believes that everyone should have equal political, economical, social, and civil rights. The Sab clan believes that family is the main root of equality and democracy. They are clan families, not tribes.
The Somali people have a rich oral language. There are 21 consonants: B T J X Kh D R S Sh Dh C G F Q K L M N W H Y. There are 5 vowls: A E I O U.
Most Somali food are meat driven, there is rarely vegetrianism. Goat, beef, lamb and sometimes chicken are what is commonly eaten throughout the day. Injera is a homemade bread made of a rare grain called "teff." This spongy and moist bread is usually 15" in diameter. During the 9th month of the Muslim calendar, the Somalis fast from eating or drinking from down till dusk. Only those in good health can fast. Caution: Not for the Ill- Hearted.
The Somali coutur for women is a, direh: a long, billowing dress worn over petticoats. Cantino: a four-yard cloth tied over shoulder and draped around the waist. Toob are commonly worn throughout Africa. Hijab, and head scarfs are very common. Men wear western pants or Ma'awis (Kilt), western shirts and shawls. Men wear a turbon or wear a koofiyad (embroidered cap that looks like a book on you head).
by Estelle Yazzie
Monday, April 5, 2010
The Pokomo's land typically does not exceed 1 to 2 km away from the river at any point. The Pokomo migrated to the Tana River in the 17th century and have been there ever since. They occupy the lower portion of the river, approx. 400 km. from Kipini to Mbalambala, north of Mombasa. They are an agricultural and fishing community, growing crops such as maize, plantains, and sugarcane. The Pokomo live in small villages of no more than 60 huts and observe collective habits of food growing, especially during the harvest season. The Pokomo rely on the flooding river to irrigate their crops.
Since 2001, the Pokomo have been at odds with the Orma tribe, semi-nomadic herders who also need the Tana River to feed their animals. Conflicts have turned more deadly with the introduction of modern weapons.
Culturally, much of the Pokomo people's old traditions have been cast aside for Muslim and Christian traditions, though there are still some who practice old Pokomo ways. The Pokomo people do not practice female genital mutilation, however, a rite of passage for males is circumcision. The tune of a song that Pokomo mothers sing to their children was, in 1963, given new lyrics and adopted as the national anthem of Kenya.
Sunday, April 4, 2010
The Taita are a tribe that lives in the Taita hills of Southwest Kenya near the border of Tanzania. It is a tribe compiled of three different tribes: the Wadawida, the Wasaghala and the Whataveta. Their language is of Bantu origin and is very similar to the Chagga people of Tanzania. The largest hill is called Dawida, it is a massive fertile place which is densely populated by the tribe. They practice many different types of agriculture and sell the bulk of what they produce to the nearest coastal provinces; a majority of it going to Mombasa. Surrounding the Taita hills is the Tsavo West National Game Park, before this became a National Park it was where the tribe would hunt for large game, and retain most of their meat supply. The Taita have assimilated many factions of the western culture, and most of their traditional culture has faded away. The biggest and most sacred tradition of the Taita people is circumcision. For hundreds of years it was a important training ritual for boys 7-11, it was a celebration of the undertaking of more responsibility. Another remarkable thing about the Taita people is that they have an outstanding amount of respect for the dead. A year after the burial of a person, their skull is taken from the ground and put in a cave with all the other skulls of all the other dead. Although this practice is not widely practiced anymore, the skull caves are considered very sacred. The Taita are very into their music and have many rituals and traditions based off music and dance. The most common dance of the Taita people is the pepo, the spirit possession dance. This dance is not only performed on national holidays.
Here is a little history. Bantu and Cushitic groups migrated to the coast from the Northwest around 1000 CE. Around the 900’s a Arab trading post was established at Mogadishu (Somalia) and Kilwa (Tanzania), this trading post attracted more people to move to the area especially because of the trade in ivory, skins, and slaves. Around 1100’s a distinct Swahili culture emerged from the convergence of these people. However, in my research on this culture there is a lot of controversy over the roots of Swahili ethnicity and who is a “true Swahili”. At one point in time the Swahili people claimed to have been from Arabia or Persia to distinguish themselves from slaves. The Kenya and Tanzania governments categorize the Swahili people as former slave traders and only marginally “African”. While historical evidence shows that the Swahili are “African” I have read that the Swahili do not consider themselves “African” or “Asian” but as their own unique civilization.(pbs.org)
The Swahili language is Kiswahili or Swahili and is a Bantu language. The name Swahili is derived for the Arabic word Sawahil meaning “coastal dwellers”. This name along with many other aspects of Swahili culture were influenced by Arabic culture. Swahili has about 20,000 Arabic words. I have also read that the name Swahili was given to them by the Sultanate of Zanzibar and that it was a derogatory term. This reading said that the Swahili rarely use it themselves and prefer the names of their particular town.
In coastal cities the Swahili architecture and houses are usually constructed with stone or coral and the ceilings are made of mangrove poles. Swahili architecture is known for its elaborate doors and posts, which are intricately carved into. The quality and size of a door is a sign of someone’s wealth. These houses are usually not divided into individual rooms but have large open rooms, usually four of them in one house called “Swahili galleries”. These houses are separated from each other by narrow corridors to create shade and walkways.
Arabic culture has had the greatest influence in shaping Swahili culture and tradition. This can be seen most in that the Swahili’s main religion is Islam, which has a large impact on Swahili lifestyle including food and clothing. Swahili children attend Madrassa which are religious classes where they learn Arabic languages and study the Koran. Swahili marriages are usually arranged by parents, although if the daughter does not approve of her groom to be she has the right to select her own. Swahili weddings last several days, and only men are allowed in the mosque for the official marriage vows. Traditional Swahili dress for men is a long white or beige robe called a kanzu and a small white rounded hat with an embroidery on it. Swahili women wear long black dresses called buibui and cover their heads with a black cloth known as a hijabu. Some Swahili women also wear veils to cover their faces. Most men wear western style clothing now but revert back to traditional dress on Fridays (the official prayer day) and on other important or religious events/days. Some women paint their hands with henna for their wedding day.
I have had a hard time finding current information on the Swahili because often I just get adds about learning how to speak Swahili, if anyone has an suggestions let me know.
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Friday, April 2, 2010
The Samburu live in groups of 5-10 families in camps called Manyattas. They usually move every 5 weeks to new pastures. These Manyattas consist of structures with plastered mud or hides and grass mats stretched over a frame of poles. They protect their flocks and huts with fence of thorns that completely surrounds the area. The Samburu dress in traditional clothing, which consists of bright red material like a skirt (called a Shukkas) and beaded jewelry. They typically remain more traditional in life and attitude than the Maasai and modern life is undesirable for them. The Samburu speak their own language, Samburu, which is a Maa language similar to Maasai dialects. The Samburu sustain themselves on milk, which is sometimes mixed with blood. Meat is very precious and is only eaten on special occasions. Their religion is mixed, some follow the traditional religion and others practice christianity. They love to sing and dance but do not use instruments during this activity. The sport enjoyed my men is high-jumping from a standing position. The adult men care for the grazing cattle while the women maintain huts, milk cows, obtain water, and collect firewood. The roles of the boys and girls are very similar in that boys heard cattle and goats, learn to hunt, and defend the flocks. The girls help the woman with fetching water and firewood. Both boys and girls go through initiation into adulthood, which includes training into adult responsibilities and circumcision or clitoridectomy. Violence against women is prevalent and polygamy is a common practice. The women are the property of men and have few rights of their own. The biggest challenge to the Samburu is lack of access to clean drinking water.
It was the building of the Uganda railway from 1896 to 1901 that brought the biggest influx of Asians to Africa, with some 32,000 indentured Indian labourers imported to East Africa by the British colonisers.
2,500 workers died during the construction of the Mombasa-Kampala railway
The railway was notoriously difficult to build
"There has been a remarkable vacuum or lack of understanding in the way African-Asians were represented and this is what I wanted to bring out in this exhibition."
The author Shiva Naipaul once described the East African Asian as "the eternal other".
A lot of young Africans have only heard about money-making Asians, but now they realise that there are others who are as Kenyan as they are
Anti-Asian feelings and resentments, especially over their perceived economic successes and commercial pre-eminence, were fuelled in the 1970s when 80,000 people of Asian heritage were expelled by Idi Amin in neighbouring Uganda.
In Tanzania, anti-Asian feelings spurred the programme of nationalisation in 1980, and in Kenya, Asian homes and shops were looted during the unsuccessful coup attempt of 1982.
This prejudice against them has been inadvertently reinforced by the Asian community itself, with its custom of holding itself culturally and economically apart.
They tend to live separately, be educated separately, shop separately and rarely mix or marry outside their own groups.
They are perceived as a homogenous and exclusive community, despite the fact that the differences between the different religious and cultural groups within the Asian community - between Hindus and Moslems, between Goans and Punjabis - can be as deeply divisive and mutually exclusive as those dividing Asians from their African neighbours.
NAIROBI-They are known by their nutmeg skin, their relative wealth
and their custom of holding themselves apart in a society where they were
conspicuous already. After more than a century in Africa, ethnic Indians
are still universally known here as "Asians."
In Kenya, where the Asian
community accounts for much, if not most, of the merchant class, there is
open resentment and anger from a black African majority mired in poverty.
Asians in East Africa know the anger and resentment only too well. In Idi
Amin's Uganda, it led to the expulsion of 80,000 people of Asian heritage.
In Tanzania, it fueled the 1980 nationalization of Asian-owned businesses.
In Kenya, Asian-owned shops and homes were looted and Asian women
were raped in the chaos that followed an unsuccessful coup attempt in
Immigration laws in Kenya are becoming increasingly draconian. Foreigners can only hold a job until a Kenyan national can be found to replace them: and more and more cities, including Nairobi, are demanding that the government bans non-Kenyans from owning a shop or trading in municipal markets.
The Kisii have historically held more economic and financial power than most ethnic groups because of their location in the wet highlands--the most fertile in Kenya--allow them prolific crops of tea and coffee. Because of the high density of population and financial standing, the Kisii tend to be marginally more educated, wear western-style clothing, are spread out, or "modern" than a lot of tribes. However, their situation is still far from ideal. A steady increase in population has allowed for the majority to be below the poverty line, with a wide income gap from other members. Their hilly land--subdivided by families, thus growing smaller all the time--is affected by erosion from over-farming, and their lack of infrastructure such as telephones, electricity and good roads allows for their resources to be easily exploited.
The Kisii have always been agriculturists, and are a part of the Bantu speaking people (today they speak Kisii, or Ekegusii). Since migration, their culture has been shaped by frequent battles again the Luo, Nandi and Maasai; even today they are often viewed as "strong and aggressive people." Today there are still frequent land issues with Maasai, Kalengin and Kipsigis. Grazing land disputes result in cattle theft.
The Kisii practice male and female circumcision for the purpose of initiation into adulthood. At the age of 7 or 8 for girls and a few years later for boys, the practice is to train children on the rules of shame (chinsoni) and respect (ogosika). Female circumcision is more common among the Kisii than any other tribe. The Kisii are patriarchal and polygamists, but it is not common for a man to have multiple wives. Community is traditionally valued, as families live close together.
More than 75% are Christian, the rest are monotheistic, worshipping their God Engoro.
The Kisii are known to believe in the power of witchcraft more than any other tribe in Kenya. Two years ago 11 people that were believed to have been witches were killed in a Kisii farming community. Kisii are generally afraid of witchcraft, but often accuse people of it to settle unrelated, petty arguments. Part of the ceremony of funerals is to dissect bodies before burial to determine if they were killed by witchcraft.
This is a blog response from a Kisii after more witch killings in 2009, "Witchcraft and Witch Burnings MUST Stop":
"The killings in question are not the first of their kind in the area. ... This incident puts our entire country to shame among the community of nations; it further embarrasses those of who come from the region in a case that cannot be defended anywhere in contemporary times. Law enforcement must move in quickly and apply the full force of the law. Every effort must be made to bring perpetrators of this open-day murder to book and ensure that they pay for their heartless crime. ...The poverty rate in Gusii, as in many parts of the country, is unprecedented. Land sizes have shrunk to a degree where holdings cannot support the population based on traditional land use techniques. The fact is that even if one worked the land to the degree one could, there is NOT enough land to support the current and future population without creativity of some sort." (http://kisii.com/portal/index.php?/Witchcraft-Witch-Burning-MUST-Stop.html)
Unfortunately, alcohol has added to negative social circumstance as well. Violence, especially towards women has increased over the last century; the Gusii region has high murder rates compared to the rest of the Kenya. Traditionally, and still followed in rural areas, women cannot inherit land, cattle or other resources. They are under the complete authority of their husbands until they have sons.
The Rendille People live in the Kaisut desert east of Lake Turkana in northern
Historically the Rendille people are from southern
The Rendille were not directly impacted by colonization. This was because the British didn’t want their desert land. They are very nomadic and had little sustained contact with any other people because they would not –could not because of their environment- stay in one place. They stayed out of sight out of mind until the 1970s and 80s when a series of droughts caused massive loss of livestock. Because they survived off their animals this was catastrophic. This famine brought the Rendille to the attention of missionary relief organizations and NGO’s. The problem with trying to support these people was that they could not stay in one place and survive on their own, there was no land that could support them. This has created towns that survive entirely off of aid from the government to survive. Aid organizations stared these towns so they could educate and feed these people, but even now only about 10% are literate and the towns can’t survive without help.