The air carried a stinging smell of rotting vegetable and animal droppings. I made my way through the dusty roads following Millicent and Lucy, my two new African friends. Sometimes we needed to jump over small canals, half filled with a dark liquid garbage mixture that I did not want my foot to slip into. Dozens of children were running after us, calling in a little choir: “Mzungu! How are you?” (Mzungu = white person).
Visiting Mitume Slum
Millicent and Lucy had picked me up yesterday from my paradise-like home in the fully equipped garden bungalow of the Africa Theological Seminary to go to the home of Philip’s mother. Anastasia lives in the slum Mitume in Kitale, where also Philip and some co-workers live. Here, Philip started Otepic, a project with many branches reaching from gardening and an orphans’ care to permaculture education, houses for safe child birth and many others. I am currently volunteering here and will introduce the project later in more detail.
Celebrating at Anastasia’s House
Family and friends gathered to celebrate the Kenyan National Holiday, also known as Heros’ day. October 20th honors all those who contributed towards the struggle for Kenya’s independence or positively contributed in the post-independence Kenya.
Parts of Anastasia’s house recently collapsed in a heavy rain and were in the process of being rebuilt. She still had about four rooms left.
One was a kind of living room with couches, a coffee table, and a TV. In the adjacent kitchen, there was a charcoal stove and a bed.
Preparing the Feast
When we got there around 1 pm, the women started cooking while the men gathered in the living room to drink, chat and watch TV. So, Millicent, Lucy, Anna, Anastasia and me started washing and chopping the green leaves for the common vegetable that is part of nearly every meal in Kenya.
Since it was a holiday there was goat meat, cooked with bones that were chopped to little pieces. And of course, we prepared Ugali, a porridge-like meal of maize-flour (cornmeal) cooked with water and vegetable oil.
While cooking we taught each other songs in English, Kiswahili, and German. Occasionally, we took some time to take pictures in the cooking breaks. This was great fun for the girls. I think they didn’t often have their pictures taken before. I will make sure to get some of them printed before I leave.
Some ducklings kept us company in the kitchen as they were looking for food in exchange for droppings. Mother duck stayed outside together with two chickens and a pig.
Children Eat in a Separate Room
It took us around three hours to prepare the feast. Since everybody eats with the God-given cutlery, AKA fingers, there is a little washing ceremony before every meal. One person goes around with a jug of water and a bowl so everybody can clean their hands.
Then men and women joined in the living room to eat. Children never eat together with the adults but separated in the kitchen. Anastasia took care of them there.
Chinese Soaps at Dinner Time
During the meals, usually the TV remains switched on. A Chinese soap with English subtitles was aired. It was a pathetically solemn mixture of Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones.
After the feat, Philip showed me the garden in the slum, the first project of Otepic. Again dozens of children followed us around, calling: “Mzungu! Mzungu!” Philip told them: “There is no Mzungu here. Her name is Silke.” So the children looked surprised and tried to pronounce my name.
I will write about Otepic and Mitume slum in more detail later.
Until then, please watch the slide show: