Our assignment to mentor the Kilili Branch of the church located almost 3 hours southeast of Nairobi in the Kilungu Hills, has caused us to relook at our own lives. These humble people live in a confusing world that is much like a time-machine that transports them back and forth from the 17th century, where they spend most of their lives, to short glimpses at the 21st century. In addition they are asked to learn another language in order to visit this 21st century world. In these pictures we have tried to capture a small sample of some of the images that we see as we leave the 21st century and drive off of the paved roads onto the heavily rutted dirt roads leading 40 Km back in time to our new friends in Kilili. The most enjoyable part of our ride is the enthusiastic waves and smiles that we get from most of the people we pass, especially the little kids. It is a novelty for them to see Mzungus (white people). A few of the little kids who have not ever seen a Mzungu before run and hide. For a long time unfortunately the white people were not there friends and many children are taught to fear them. So Karen's job while I drive is to wave and smile to everyone like we were in a parade. I roll down my window and smile and greet everyone. This seems to disarms those who wonder about our motives.
These are typical dwellings in the Kilungu Hills. They are a lot like the dwellings that we saw in the Masi Communities of the Maasi Mara. These dwellings are constructed of a skeleton of interwoven branches of a bush that is resistant to termites, over which several layers of a mixture of mud and straw are applied. Then the thatched roof is added. There are also concrete and rock dwellings being built in many areas. Notice the fence in the foreground made merely of interwoven branches. I assume that this is to keep kids in and unwanted critters out. However, unlike the Masi Communities there are not lions or other large predators to worry about. Probably these fences are just to keep the neighbors cattle or dogs away.
This is a funny picture. Look at the local women and children in the background looking at the crazy Mzungus taking a picture of their goats. This is in front of the church which is just to the side of those women and children, out of the picture. And this very spot is where we usually park while attending church. They were not about to move either.
Buses like this are their contact with the 21st century. This is how they get to and from the larger cities. The drivers of these buses barely stop to let people on or off before they roar off in a cloud of dust. This bus had just passed us going about 45 Km/hr which is not too fast until you consider that the roads are very rough. In many spots you must come to a complete stop before transversing 6-12" ruts. It is rough enough often enough that I never make it out of third gear for the entire 40 Km of this dirt road. I would say that 80% of the time I am in 2nd gear. These guys drive like they are in The Baja Cross Country Race. Notice the live chickens strapped to the luggage on the top.
This is the usual method of transporting goods.
This is an even more primitive means of transportation. These two oxen are pulling a wooden sled on which some old tires have been attached. In the tires three little kids enjoy a ride home while their older brother follows a distance behind.