Life in Lumakanda, Kenya

20  January 2012 I staying in Lumakanda, which is on the western side of the Rift Valley in Kenya, in the home of Gladys Kamonya and David Zarembka. Also in this household are two of Gladys’ grandsons, Eugene (10) and Danson (8); her nephew Patrick (21); and Nancy, their great cook and housekeeper. I was privileged to go along on a visit to her father (David Okwemba)’s house in Viyala where I also met Gladys’ sister Eunice. You can see them all in a slideshow.

Lumakanda is the administrative center for the Lugari District, but is still a small town. The usual transportation is via boda boda (motorcycle taxis). There are a number of shops, churches, and schools. The land is hilly and rocky in some spots, notably where the government offices are located. On top of a prominent rock hill is the water tank, which is being replaced by a larger one under construction. Patrick took me up to the top so I could see the view and understand where I am. I made a slideshow of scenes of Lumakanda. You will see a typical downtown scene with shops, cows, and a motorcycle taxi.

Lumakanda is rather spread out because residents live in house plots with enough space for gardens and livestock. Gladys has two adult sheep with two lambs, several mother hens with their chicks, two dogs and a cat. She gets about seven or eight eggs a day, enough for this household. She is saving for a cow so she will have milk, too. She has one field of sweet potatoes, and another with collards, ochre, eggplant, maiz, cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, pumpkin, and I am probably forgetting some. We often eat greens, which includes some leaves I didn’t one could eat, like pumpkin or ochre leaves.

Houses are built with bricks made right here. Mud is dried in forms and then the bricks are stacked up with firewood inserted underneath. The firewood is lit and then the holes covered over with mud to let the bricks bake for a week or more. There are photos of bricks stacked for firing in the Lumakanda-scenes slide show. Gladys is building another house for rental, so I will enjoy watching the progress.

As for me, I am learning the history and researching the background for the book I am writing, which will document the work of Friends in response to the post-election violence in Kenya in 2008 and 2009. Monday I will begin interviewing people who were involved. The goal is to finish the book before I leave here, even have a few copies at the World Conference of Friends the last two weeks of April. The date for the next election has not been set, but it will be in the end of 2012 or early in 2013, so the book should be available in the lead-up to the next election.



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