Kenya Team Trip 2019
Written by Greg MacAdam
“Hello to all! Or Udhi nadi?! (How are you doing?) As the Luo people on Mageta would say. It is fantastic to be here in Kenya with Kathy and Cheri. This is my very first trip to Kenya and Africa for that part. It is a journey I’ve planned to take several years ago and I’m thrilled to now be living it.
I’ve heard plenty of exciting and detailed stories from the MCOH team yet no amount of first-hand accounts can equal to traveling the busy roads, taking in the smell of campfires by the roadside and learning the common “Kenyan” handshake.
First order of business in Kenya is a safari. We boarded Paul’s trusty 4×4 combi with an open roof and entered the Nakuru National Park. So close to a bustling city is a collection of animals great and small that rival the opening scene from the Lion King. Zebras, Water buffalo, Flamingos and even a distant view of two resting lions awaited us. The Safari drivers worked together to find us the best viewing positions. Once complete we returned for supper. A humble meal yet made with all the love of your grandmothers cooking awaited us.
The travels of Dr. Livingstone appear in my mind as we sojourn to Mageta Island past the dramatic Kenyan landscape. From past accounts, Livingstone, on his lengthy search for the source of the Nile brought him through hundreds of villages and communities. Traditionally the people would ask for payment, be it cloth or jewellery, for permission to cross their land. Yet eventually such resources run out and the Doctor turned to working closely with the tribes and learned to negotiate. Due to this his expedition gained speed as the locals showed him the best routes and sometimes provided supplies. This type of relationship holds just as much value today if not more.
On the last leg to Mageta we boarded the ferry. Through the organized chaos all our equipment was loaded aboard. From the ferry I had a great view of Lake Victoria. The fresh water lake switches from green to blue. Islands silhouette themselves against the warm haze on the horizon, if I didn’t know better I would think it was the ocean. Livingstone himself believed it to be the source of the Nile, it wasn’t until much later it was discovered to not be the case.
Life on Mageta is very slow paced, very normal for a rural area. The only transportation is by foot or Picky-Picky ( motorbike). Fishing is very important to the area. Fresh Talapia and other seafood is caught regularly. Finally I begin my lessons on Sexual health and HIV prevention coupled with the Trees for Boys program. My first few lessons went very well. The boys were very attentive and a few asked some good questions. Ages vary from 13 to 17 so I try to involve everyone. In Sika the area Chief was the one who dug planting holes behind the schools. Cheri informs me this is very rare behavior for a Chief. Normally a Chief would rather delegate chores than get dirt on his hands.
With every meeting and encounter with the local children I come to appreciate their mannerisms and traditions. Shortly before writing this we had our first soccer game with the children near our camp site. They aren’t shy and are curious to meet someone who (using a PEI term) comes from away. I heard when Dr. Livingstone died during his search for the great water source; they returned his body to England yet buried his heart in Africa. Every day here offers a new explanation why.