Thursday, September 17, 2015

Amazing Kipchumba Murkomen's humble background photos! Wooah!

Kipchumba Murkomen, the EMC senator is undoubtedly one person who has a lot to tell on how he has made it to where he is.  Rising over time from a mere son of an ordinary village vicar to a senator is a prosperous success script. Below are few exclusive yesteryears pictures of the man who always boasts of his humble background in public rallies. So inspiring.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Kisumu: Mixed affluence and poverty

As you drop to Kisumu along the Kakamega-Kisumu highway, grotesque rocks of the Maragoli hills and an oppressive warmth of Kisumu County conspire to give you a warm welcome.

The expansive view of the  sea gives you a break from the tongue-twisters of Luhya names like Shamakhokho.

The warmth of the Luo people complements the oppressive lake side
heat. I am seated next to a young Luo woman who is going to 'dala'(home). The Luo people are known for their characteristic swag.
We strike a cordial conversation after exchanging greetings.

"What do you do for a living?" I ask her.

"I am a fish farmer", she says confidently.

I ask her where she gets market for her fish. She goes on to explain
how her business spans as far as Eldoret, Nairobi and even Mombasa! I
am torn between believing what this suave girl is telling me and the
fact that I had a feeling that this was a well-crafted tale.

It is time to part. We alight and bid each other warm bye. I step out
into the tumult of the Kisumu bus stage. A sea of humanity is gathered
here. The air is suffocating. Human sweat  and foul air combine to
assault our nostrils in the most unpleasant of ways.

Motorcycles ridden by seemingly manic 'Okoda men' zoom past in
neck-breaking speeds. It is only  God who can save the people of Kisumu from this murderers on wheels.

The tragedy of motorcycles is manifested in Kisumu. The County
government seems to have lost the fight to control the numerous riders who have jammed the city.

The suffocation of the city  by humanity coupled with the dirty eating joints dotted along the streets can turn any hard stomach in-out.

Yet despite all this chaotic  display by Kisumu, one cannot fail to note the boom in the construction industry in the region. New houses are being put up virtually everywhere. A number of roads leading in and out of the town. Notable is the massive Airport bypass that rivals the Thika superhighway.

As you check into your room, the incessant whirr of the mosquitoes
disturb your peace. The Kisumu mosquitoes are as precise as the US drones searching for Al shaabab militants. When they accidentally find
you, they drill into your flesh with the meanness of Arab oil merchants who have recieved a new order from their Western masters!

Fish is a King's meal here. The Luo people will be offended if you refuse to eat fish when they welcome you to their homes.

The red ball of the receding sun will jolt you from your reverie. It is time to retire into the comfort of your little hotel 'dala'.

You will not miss the characteristic Luo swag as you head to your hotel. A young Luo man is holding  the latest i-gadget against his ears. The phone is five times larger than his ears! It conjurs in me the image of a man holding a dinner plate against his ears! But as
they say here, do I say? The cardinal rule here is that if you must own a phone, it should be large enough to be visible!
Benga music rocks in Kisumu. Every joint worth its name must belt Benga tunes to soothe the spirits of the eccentric Luo men and women. You will occasionally hear Jaguar lamenting from a street music shop.
  Indeed, Kisumu city is a hotbed of vibrancy. As they say, Luo is not a tribe, but a lifestye. I now understand why being Luo is a responsibility.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Kipteber: The Mountain that fell right from the sky

Popping from approximately five kilometers off the range of Cherangany hills is a huge, steep, rocky and extraordinary mountain. A piece of physical feature that is a perfect symmetry of a plate of ugali; Mt. Kipteber.A Mountain barring an extraordinary narrative of its origin spanning lots of generations ago.  Not until you scale up this humongous art of nature and listen to the narrative on how people around it belief it came by, you will treat it as just that; an ordinary rocky hill.
The story of this mountain has been passing from one generation to another thanks to the popularity it gathers once it is told, it is a spectacularly unique tale that elders have been passing to the young generations who in turn popularize it amongst themselves.
Mt. Kipteber strategically sits on the Elgeyo/Marakwet- Pokot counties borderline, 8 kilometers from Kapcherop Township; the economic nerve center of Marakwet West Sub-County. The boundary between these two counties runs through the center of this mountain, two of its perpendicular cliffs face the Pokot side. This leaves hikers only with the option of accessing it through the ElgeyoMarakwet side.
 John Chemaringo; a native who has been doing a Marakwet narratives research on his upcoming book knows the tale like the back of his hand.
That a combination of two Marakwet clans; Talai and Sirikwa was having a circumcision gig, popularly known as ‘kiberet’ in the local dialect around the place where the mountain now stands, that it was a flat land dotted with shrubs enough to cover those traditional revelers from the uninitiated who were not allowed to take part or even go near in those ceremonies.
Talai is an expansive clan common among all kalenjin dialects with a history of its members having originated from Egypt, or ‘Misri’ as people would commonly say.
Halfway into the dancing, wining and dining, a pied crow flew from nowhere and according to how it was singing, it had a very important message to pass across but before that, a landing place was to be prepared. One of the initiates lifted his spear up on which the crow landed in it.
After all the noise and singing was ushed, the crowd delivered its message. That the ceremony was to come to an end and everybody vacate the place for a rock will shortly fall from the sky and cover the whole place, then it flew off.
Mixed feelings rent the air after that. Some turned a deaf ear and went on with merry making while few decided to save their souls by walking away in dismay of their partying having cut short by the gods.
Hardly had those that had decided to id to the call gone far, than the heavens started to rumble. At first they thought it was a normal storm so they continued with the walk to their homes.
‘Perhaps those that had continued partying were too drunk and noisy to notice any change above them’ concludes Chemaringo. 
Not long after that, a huge solid rock fell right from the otherwise seemingly rain baring clouds and hit the ground with a thud never heard before. All those who were there were buried alive, as those that had moved a distance from the place scattered as fast and as far as they could out of fright.
“This is the reason why we have Talai clans all over the Kalenjin land’’ says Gabriel Kilimo, an elder who has lived around here for forty years.
He says that the extraordinary nature of that event made people travel as far as Baringo, Kapsabet and Kericho to save their lives.
“They lived and adopted the culture of their new found safe haven” says Kilimo who is putting up an archive for Marakwet traditional artifacts.
Pius Yano, a member of the local council of elders says it is believed that the hill fell from heaven due to one main reason. He explains that when the Talai came in from Egypt around 15th century, the native Sirikwa did not believe in either male or female circumcision. However due to their superiority, the Talai forced them into practicing it. “This was to facilitate associative issues such as intermarriages” says Yano citing that the Talai could not marry or get married by the uncircumcised. It has however been generally believed that the gods were not pleased with forced circumcision and that led to this general punishment.
One thing that stands out in the narrative about how Mt. Kipteber came to be is its aspect of timelessness. No one knows exactly when it occurred. ” It could be hundreds or even thousands of years ago” says Chemaringo. He further casts a doubt on the believability of the story saying that Cherangany Jungle was, even fifty years ago, extremely cold and infested with man eating lions. “It is unimaginable that one could have crossed this terrain under those conditions in that age” he claims.
Today, Mt. Kipteber is a spectacular destination for everyone looking for thrill and adventure. Hoards of people stream in droves from all its sides just have a feeling of how it is to be on top of the mountain that fell from the skies.
Elgeyo/Marakwet County has earmarked it as one of its potential income earner but little has been done to give this unique tourism destination the face it deserves.
This is also an important structure in the religious and social lives of everyone subscribing to the belief that is its extra ordinary nature.
Sometimes when the land lying around it experiences myriad of tribulations, special envoy of elders are normally sent to pour libations and conduct special prayers to alleviate whatever the problem is.
People also use it as a recreational facility. It is the most preferred place for picnics and ceremony photo sessions.
This natural feature is to the people’s daily life what its story is to the cultural continuity of the Marakwet community.