She is just one girl, raped.

Ever since the “Surviving R Kelly” documentary was released by Lifetime, there has been a growing outrage across the globe, Kenya included. R Kelly is a marked man, and to some, dead.

Around the same time, in Homabay county, a thirteen year old girl is gang raped and her genitals mutilated using a sharp razor blade. She is admitted at a local hospital for five days before being transferred to a Nairobi hospital where a reconstructive surgery is done.

β€œThe girl was brought to the hospital when her clitoris was cut and this caused profuse bleeding. To avoid the rapture of the birth canal in future, the minor must undergo a medical procedure that will repair the damaged genital.” the medic added.

Media reports say the police have arrested eight suspects connected to the heinous crime. A group of female Members of Parliament have also visited the teenager, taking the chance to talk tough on sexual and gender based violence and the consequences of the crimes.

THE END.

While we are condemning R Kelly and his enablers, jumping in on the #SurvivingRKelly hashtag to warn him against his impending trip to Africa, a girl at home is fighting to survive. No hashtags have been created. No outrage has been registered on the county, let alone the national scale. Yet, our own predators are shedding blood, literally, with every step they take. There is so much going on. She is just one girl.

Where does the healing begin for her?

Will she ever forget how it felt to be pinned down by these criminals, while one dangled his erect manhood on her face before thrusting the hardened rod into her with unnecessary urgency?

Who is to say if her private parts will ever heal? Ever? Will the memory of the rape ordeal come flooding back every time she needs to use the bathroom? Or everytime she showers? Or when she accidentally sees herself in the mirror? What about when she finally, willingly, has sex for the first time? This physical pain, when will it stop?

These beasts of men blindfolded her. With her sight taken, all her other senses became more alert. They say she passed out during the act, but I think her brain registered every touch, and stored it. Touch. Is that a sense she never wants to experience from anyone, ever? Does it scare her when doctors and nurses do their examinations? Warm, cold, hard, soft hands, do they all take her back to that fateful day?

Will she ever learn to speak up again, seeing as to how no one came to her aid when she screamed her lungs out? Her cries didn’t stop the men. They probably registered them as pleasure moans. Continue. She likes it.

The voices. Does it startle her everytime she hears a bass, a baritone? What is that chill she feels flowing down her spine?

What is she thinking, right this moment, lying on her back on that hospital bed? Does life even make sense? Is it worth living? Where do I go when I am discharged? Why me? Is it the dress I was wearing? Is my walking style too sexual? Why didn’t I run? What will people say? Am I damaged goods now? Men?!? Where is God? Where was God?

Does the weeping ever stop? Do the laxatives cease the nightmares she is likely to encounter in that dark pit of nothingness meant for rest?

Oh, my heart.

Can one even begin to imagine her pain? Where does the healing begin? The mind, body and spirit are probably things she doesn’t have control over. She is suspended somewhere dark, alone.

“She does not want to look anyone on the face,” said one of the nurses.

Will justice ever be her shield and defender? What does she need them for after this ordeal anyway? Can anyone do any worse?

As a society, we are infamous for our selective amnesia. A “we will revisit” attitude. Yet, we never do. The case files are dropped in the storage to gather dust. Once or twice, we blow off the dust, cough, remember and sigh. Then we say “bora uhai.” Of importance is life.

Which life?

Are we all helpless? Have the vices and crimes committed by our own brothers become oh so overwhelming? Why are we so protective of them? Is it every man for himself now?

I don’t know if we see this as a failure, somehow, on our part, but I do know that we need to do better. Now.

Back in 2016, a report launched by the United Nations and the Kenyan government indicated that nearly one in three Kenyan girls experience sexual violence before the age of 18. According to the findings of this first nationwide household survey, three quarters of Kenyan children are said to experience physical, sexual or emotional violence. More than 3,000 young people aged 13 to 24 were interviewed.

One can only imagine, dreadfully, how high the stats have since risen.

We – you, need to join the 0.0000001% of the populace who are actually doing something to ensure that, girls – children, are not growing up damaged; that is if they live long enough in a society that has since stopped desiring to see them thrive.

Image: Courtesy

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Karibu 2019 πŸŽ‰

Maize meal and cooking oil.

That is what I came back to after the three week Christmas break at my parents’. I felt like that widow in the Bible whose miracle came from sharing the little oil and flour she had left with prophet Elijah. On that note, are you a prophet? Do you need some cooking oil?

Kuja na kibuyu

The GoTv (cable tv) subscription had expired and the gas had (not so) mysteriously breathed its last while I was away. The fridge was humming its way through life with soy sauce and some Akabhanga pepper from Rwanda keeping it company.

Njaanary, as they call it, had arrived. The glow was unmistakable.

Happy New Year! Tis’ the season of both intentional and coerced fasting. It is also the season of renewed vigor. Goals are being set, vision boards are being crafted and drafted and landlords are being avoided.

Mangoes are everywhere, taking the place of lemons and oranges. Patriots from the Kamba community are the ultimate best friends until further notice. If you didn’t know, mangoes from Kambaland are THE best! (We might say the same thing about the ones from the coast region when the time comes…)

Cabbages are also in season. If you know, you know.

What is also true is that there have been a lot more Whatsapp messages on my end. “Hi big siz!” “Umerudi Nairobi?” “Itakuwaje?” “I need a favor.” Please, the a hundred dollars I kept under the mattress as contingency will not solve all our problems.

Sadly, it looks like a few people I know or I am acquainted with didn’t make it to the 5th day of 2019, and I find myself in a couple of funeral fundraising groups. If you have lost someone, pole sana. My condolences. My cousin Patty rested around this time last year. I can tell you, it doesn’t get easier, the pain and grief. You just learn to think of them as anything but the still body you saw/see in that coffin. You live with their smiles and the familiar scents that remind you that they lived, and you loved.

Ah. That got a bit dark pretty fast. Here is a lovely photo of the sunrise from my bedroom window…

R Kelly has been trending. We are upset. Me too. You have no idea how I karaoked my lungs out when I am your angel, Storm is Over and The World’s Greatest were played on the radio. How can a human being be not so…human? He took advantage of young teenage girls who dreamed of a career birthed from their passions and gifts. May they find healing and most importantly, justice. As for R Kelly, I can’t. Hurt people must not always hurt people. Get help. You can’t be the person who uses your past as an excuse for trampling on the delicate flowers that are people’s dreams. No.

Speaking of dreams. This year I want a new mattress. And silk bedsheets and a new bedroom. I also wouldn’t mind flying first class to Seychelles. There is this thing I want to do for young boys and girls, grooming storytellers.

What’s your dream this year?

Yes. It’s okay to be selfish with it. If it brings you true joy and peace, there will be a ripple effect on those around you. Like me, si if I sleep better and drink more water I will be less cranky and have less breakouts on my face? Then I will be an overall nice person. My point is, be kind to yourself this year. Treat yourself like you would have others treating you. I am eating more dark chocolate this year. People must see me eating dark chocolate.

Wear more pajamas and lingerie in bed as opposed to the promotion t-shirts and those pants you bought in 1982.

Tell yourself the truth. All the time. The truth about who you are; to yourself and others, the truth about the kind of person you are and where you are at with your dreams. What’s love got to do with it?

Otherwise, don’t panic! You made it through 2018! That should mean you still have work to do and a life to enjoy!

I am sure it will be a blast!

Haya, enough of my preaching, but go ahead and applaud πŸ˜‚

God bless you, and again, HAPPY NEW YEAR!

2018. Of roads, bulldozers and life.

Just hours away from the new year and I am yet to answer the question of the season; how was my 2018?

I will, in a bit, but first, let me tell you about a road…

Sometime in August, the county government began work on the roads in my estate, with an intent to tarmac them. It has been six years since we moved there and I had gotten quite used to the all weather murram road. It never got too muddy during the rainy season and stayed relatively dust free during the dry season. It was just okay. Usable. Could pass.
I never really thought it could get better. At least not that I can remember. So when I began seeing the Chinese foremen with their yellow and orange helmets accompanying the huge Sany bulldozers, it dawned on me that “haiya!” tarmac roads within the estate can be a reality!

By early September, I could hardly recognize the road leading up to my gate. No, the tarmac was not on yet. Surely. The road had been dug proper. The dust storms became a nuisance. Leaving the house for us route 11 folks (ok, me) became such a task! Good thing I mostly work from home so I only ventured out when it was absolutely necessary. There was so much digging and flattening and digging. So much so that when the short rains came around mid October, I was grateful that the dust had been beaten down, literally.

That feeling was however short lived. Thanks to global warming, the rains got heavier and kumbe there was more digging to be done. From dust that almost rivaled the dunes in the Sahara to mud that given a chance, would swallow you whole. I remember a day I naively wore my new velvet flats because the skies looked clear, only to come back and find that mud skiing rig. Sigh. The pain! The roads were so bad that no taxi driver wanted to risk getting stuck going down the road. Ultimately, it was up to us humans and the relative agility of our limbs.

Where am I going with this? Stay with me.

I am not too familiar with the different types of dozers used for road works, but during this period, I got a favorite.You know the one that has a huge steel barrel that that is used to flatten/firm out/even out the ground? That one. It brought back a sense of familiarity. Reminded me of that road I knew from back then and didn’t quite mind. However the ‘destroyer’ would come back and overhaul every particle and we would be back to square one.

I was getting really frustrated at how long this tarmac was taking. I am not sure why I thought it would be ready in two months. Smh. In the midst of all the chaos though, I began seeing progress. The drainage tunnels had been dug, cemented and covered. The workers began planting huge boulders underneath the road surface, for some sort of stability I guess. Last time I checked, before leaving for the December holidays, there was no major activity going on. Maybe it was some period of rest. I don’t know. Who knows what I will find when I get back?
So much has happened to/on that stretch!

In the same way, so has my 2018 been. Looking back, I feel like that estate road leading up to my gate was me, my life. My life was relatively ok. Could pass. Served me well. Until someone began work (by force?) on it. Thanks God! Average, mediocrity for who? Suddenly, there was digging, uprooting, unlearning, and everything was unfamiliar. Thing is, I probably made a prayer at the beginning of the year for some symbolic changes in my life, but it didn’t quite register that changes often come with a shifting. The degree of which depends with the desired end.

Many times, my anxiety levels peaked. I am a bit of a control freak and it concerned me that several things would just fall off my previously dependable grasp. Concerned is an understatement. Parts of me were being pulled apart, vigorously, and I wondered who commissioned this war. Was it even necessary?

Every rejection felt like a buildozer ramming through my core. Even the high festive moments felt like process. Like work was being done. I was supposed to acknowledge every bit of feeling, emotion, actions and reaction, consequences, words and weigh them against what? I am not sure. I just know that there had to be a heightened sense of self awareness that felt foreign, sometimes even scary. Even dreams weren’t just dreams anymore.

Rough! But…

I still feel like me. The true essence of me has not changed. I am surprised at some of the revelations, but it is not like they came from nowhere. I have had to dig deeper to unravel the intrinsic mysteries. Just like that road is still a road, used for that same purpose it was created for, it’s current condition notwithstanding.

I am stronger. I know myself a little better. I know that only good things can come off this process, and I am learning to ease my grasp on things that need letting go, so I can be open to receiving the best the coming year has to offer. I am looking forward to that tarmac. It is definitely better than the murram road. It has taken time to demolish and reconstruct but it will soon be ours to enjoy. We deserve better roads, but until then, I will be like these little estate kids who play in the dust and run through the tunnels with glee. I want that freedom. To live in the moment and know that it will be alright, eventually.

In the same breath, I know 2019 can only get better. Limbs are more agile, heart stronger, hands wide open and smile constant. I am at peace.

Happy New Year!!

That thing? Do it!

Do you remember the last time you did something for the first time, and enjoyed it?

I am a daughter of the lake. I am Luo. I speak dholuo. My father comes from the plains of Ahero, where beautiful rice paddies carpet the swampy grounds. River Nyando often floods during the rainy season, forcing my people to move to higher ground. During the dry season, which is most of the time, the clay soil dries and cracks up, forming webs across the land. It is during this long season that the sun calls all her sisters, and they are many, to show off their collective glows. What a sight it is at sunset!

My mother has her roots in Subaland, where tsetse flies once invaded the land and allegedly caused many of the young men to flee to other areas. That is how my grandfather settled in Uyoma. Remember when we were taught in primary school that tsetse flies cause sleeping sickness? I sometimes wonder if the sickness is hereditary. The way this sister sleeps is sometimes worrying.

I was born and raised in Nakuru town. I was nicknamed flamingo in some quaters, because I am as tall (maybe as elegant too?) as the flamingos in Lake Nakuru. So you see? I am a daughter of the lake on more than one count.

However, this daughter of the lake, up until February 2018, had never gone fishing. I do not know if I had ever desired it, or if there was any expectation from others to, but doesn’t it make sense that if I am going to claim that title as confidently as I do, I should have done it at least once?

So, I did.

It was not planned at all. Mbita sub-county hospital had been our work station for the day. After a hot tedious afternoon, we were excited to spend the equally steaming evening at the shores of Nam Lolwe, what you probably know as Lake Victoria. The five minute drive to the lake had me anticipating a picturesque sunset, a stunning one for Instagram. My skin was sticky with sweat, and for the first time in a long time, I wished I could swim. I sniffed my armpits and decided they were better off being lathered with hot soapy water anyway.

At the beach, a few men were working on a blue and white boat, Lake Express II. They were chatting animatedly in dholuo and their laughter sliced the hot air every couple of minutes. Am I the only one who finds evening laughter reassuring? Honestly, blessed is he who can afford a throaty and belly shaking laughter after a draining day, for yours is the last laugh. A few metres away a ferry stood facing the lake. It looked like it had been stuck in the solemn permanent gaze a while, but still maintained an authoritative knowledge of the vast waters.

The last of the water buses was arriving with passengers on board. Up until this moment, I did not know the difference between a ferry and a waterbus. I had never even heard of a waterbus. I remember sending a friend a picture telling him about this orange and black ferry.

“Waterbus, you mean?” He asked.

“Well, potato, potatoe.” I said defensively and thanked him.

I was truly fascinated by how it glided towards the shore. How can something be so heavy, yet so effortless? God bless science. The waterbus let out an interrupting scream as it came to a halt. Tired people filed out. Most were traders, arriving home from a busy market day at Luanda Kotieno.

The breeze was as soothing as they get. My colleagues and I picked a few stones and began throwing them into the water, competing on whose would make the most loops before it settled. I lost. I did throw the farthest, if anyone is keeping scores.

We soon split up as things took an introspective turn. The water does that to you. You stare long enough, it speaks to you. It suggests, strongly, that you confront your feelings, fears, head on. Whoever wants to do that? It is uncomfortable, so a distraction is always appreciated. Unfortunately, my phone had gone off just as the deep orange sun had began its descent. How convenient!

I walked around in an attempt to avoid my thoughts. They were stubborn. With every step came an agenda shouting, “Me! Me first!” I was busy trying to calm everyone in there down and get them to queue up when I saw him. Between him and the water, I could not decide who was calmer. He sat perched on a rock holding a fishing rod. There was a literal can of worms next to him, bait. Another can stored the fulu he had caught. Fulu is a type of fish that is slightly bigger than omena in full maturity. They are both smaller than the regular size fish you may be familiar with. He went about his business oblivious of everything around him. I could not believe it. I had never seen anything like that before. Sure, in movies, but not in person. I don’t know why it was so surreal. I hated to interrupt whatever he had going on, but I could not resist. With his permission, I sat next to him.

At first, he would let me hook the bait, but seeing how excited I got when he caught something, he reached out for the extra rod he had brought and handed it over. You should have seen my smile. I wonder if in his head, he was having a conversation with his imaginary friend, β€œThese born-towns get excited over the simplest things, don’t they?”

I caught my first fish the first time my line hit the waters and almost lost it in the ensuing dance. The mechanics stopped for a second and clapped. I was so proud! My daughter of the lake stamp was now legit! Capped!

My two colleagues wanted in on the fun. They were not as successful though. I laughed and joked that the fish knew their own – those of the lake. I still remember the rush I got when I felt the fish bite the bait and get hooked. I was fishing! I actually caught fish! Three! Again, I don’t know why this was such a big deal. Maybe because it was a successful experience of firsts.

When he finally stood up to leave, I shook his hand in gratitude. Unknowingly, this man had allowed me to share in an experience I will remember fondly for the rest of my life.

I think it is pretty unfortunate that none of this was recorded in pictures. You are going to have to take my word for it. I wouldn’t lie to you. It is a sin. Between work and trying to survive in Nairobi, there is hardly time and strength left to sit in a confession booth. Fond memories though; that we have a moment for. Months later, as I recall the comforting splash of the waves against the rocks and the fishermen steering their boats out to the deep for the night shift, I feel this overwhelming urge to do something for the first time, again.

Maybe the next thing this daughter of the lake needs to learn is swimming.

When is the last time you did something for the first time, and enjoyed it?

Red Bananas: Late Bloomer Alert

Guys! I discovered red bananas this year. 2018. Sigh!

For 30 years, I have existed, lived, thrived and indeed been content with green and yellow bananas. I feel this is sad, but we will not wallow in how much I have been missing out on! If you are a late bloomer like me, this is for you! Taste and see what the Lord has done (or more accurately, has been doing since the beginning of time)!

I love shopping for fresh produce, in the open air markets aka soko, rather than supermarkets. It is the combination of smells, people and variety that draws me in. The mud during the rainy seasons is the cherry on the cake. It makes me feel like I have been through such treacherous terrain to get the goodies. Makes it worth the while. Makes my heart warm just thinking about the shopping experience. I absolutely love it. My mum has also been a great influence. She is obsessed with eating right and treating your body like the castle it is, and the bug caught on.

Parklands market is mother’s favorite. Spending time shopping with her is priceless as we get to bond a whole lot. Earlier this year, we decided to go to Parklands together after a dentist’s appointment in the same area. First stop, banana stall.

This guy’s stall had everything; all types of yellow bananas, green and even fenesi (jackfruit)! Then my eyes caught the red bananas. There should have been a soundtrack because it was love at first sight. I asked for one and my life has never been the same. Ha! For real. I think it was the same feeling I had the day I first tasted ice-cream back in the 90s. Genuine shock, love and a new sense of loyalty. I am sure I swore to eat ice-cream every day for the rest of my life. Then the economy happened and I forgot about the promise. I don’t like ice-cream that much any more. BUT these bananas! These ones I pledge allegence to for the rest of my life.

First of all, they are so beautiful to look at. A shiny red that have you wishing the skin was also edible. Let’s not even start with the taste and how delicately soft the flesh is. It is creamy and almost smells like strawberries. I don’t know how far one can go writing about their love for bananas 🀣 but I think I will just stop now before someone thinks I am about to sign a marriage certificate here 🀷🏾

Anyway. So, who else is a late bloomer here? Who is reading this post and wondering, “Where have you been girl?” Do you like it? Did you feel the way I felt the first time or I am just being too excited and it will soon fizzle out? Do share!

In the meantime, late bloomer, find yourself a market and taste this awesomeness. Thank me immediately. In advance. Because I insist you will like it!

PS: If you need an incentive to make the step, Google says this about the health benefits ;

  1. Great for weight loss! (Yaas! It keeps you fuller for longer and the works!)
  2. Good for your kidney ( extra potassium, so lower risk of kidney stones and possibly a torn anus 😷)
  3. Helps you tackle nicotine withdrawal (It is well with your lungs)
  4. Ladies, it is good for your skin 😍 (Buyer beware: The redness will not bleach or ‘remove tint.’ We are talking about textures here. Careful.)
  5. Purifiers your blood (You sinner, repent!)
  6. Naturalistas! It’s a good ingredient for hair masks! (Honestly, I wouldn’t waste this goodness on hair! Are you crazy? Let me eat it and let it find its way to the roots of my kinky locs. Thanks 😏

Alright! Thanks for coming.

πŸ’–

Who do people say I am?

What is that one thing someone called you that you felt was a total representation of yourself then later got to appreciate the truth it held?

Sometime in my late teens or early twenties, I went on a camping trip with a couple of church folk from my church. I think there were two others visiting from elsewhere. We had a great time, playing games, eating, praying, telling stories and dancing around bonfires.

Soon, it was time to head on back home. On the last night, seated around the fire, one of the visitors stood up to give a vote of thanks or something…I can’t quite recall. He then said he wanted to say something about everyone of us and what impression we had had on him.

So he went round, and finally, it was my turn. Literally saving the best for last! Yey! (This can either be interpreted as vanity or self love. I will go with the latter 🀣) So I sat up, my ears all perked up ready to hear this man dropping some honey and crunchy almond truths.

I wasn’t prepared for what came next.

“Trezer. Trezer is an enigma.”

That’s all I heard before I zoned out into a couple of minutes of gut wrenching disappointment.

First of all, it was the first time I was hearing that word, ENIGMA. I love discovering new words. I still remember how beautiful I thought the word ‘mirage’ was when I first heard it in a Physics class in high school. It rolled off the tongue effortlessly and I kept saying it over and over. To date, I get so excited when I see the representation of a mirage on tarmac on a hot day. I always want to ask the next person in the car, “Do you know what a mirage is? No? See thine life! It is the most intriguing thing ever…”

This is not the feeling I had with enigma. I don’t know if it was the context in which it was said, but I thought it very harsh. Even the pronunciation was rigid and straight to the point. No waves on the tongue. I searched people’s faces for answers to this enigma thing this guy was talking about, but they seemed as confused as I was. I was the youngest in the group too, so I expected them to know because si older people always know better? (sic)

This guy was not even smiling. He had this look that I now think was genuine curiosity. I caught him say,

“It would take more than a couple of days to figure her out.”

I mean, who ever has anyone figured out in three days anyway? But you had nice nice things to say about everyone else and then give Trezer enigma? Sigh.

Anyway, I don’t remember how this awkward moment ended, but I thought about that incident a lot in the months that followed. I was actually really scared of looking up the word in the dictionary. I did not want to feel any worse, even though there was a chance it wouldn’t be so bad.

When I finally looked it up, it said;
“a person or thing that is mysterious or difficult to understand.

Wow. Where was the love?

I let it go and lived life.

Years later, I see this same guy in another church and the memory resurfaces. It should have been about a year or so after I graduated from university. I went home and read that meaning again, and suddenly I realized what a beautiful mystery my life had been. Still is. (Issa Testimony)

Sometimes, I get mini panic attacks when I come across a person (s) that doesn’t quite get me. I want to say, I am such an open book (well πŸ€”) or how do you not see this part of me that I have laid so bare for you (πŸ˜₯😏)? Why yoi you no understand me? But I am reminded that my responsibility is to work on myself in pursuit of the purpose for which I was created; first for myself and then for that ripple effect – for humanity’s sake.

The onus, (I have wanted to use this word for the longest time!!) the onus is on you to either sulk over what people think about you or get out and live. Live. Whatever this means to you. Push boundaries, scale those impossibly high walls. And when you can’t just take it slow, rediscovering pace and time.

I really like the idea of being mysterious though, even to self. That everyday is a chance to learn more about you, to unravel thoughts and little gems that make up the greater you. To straighten folds amd creases.

To be in constant curiousity about self and the potential that lies therein is one of life’s greatest blessings.

I should know.

Yours truly,
Enigmatic Trezer 😜

The Kisumu Museum: A review

The last two weeks have seen me cover (though not extensively) five out of six counties in what is formerly ‘Nyanza Province.’

Kisumu. Homabay. Migori. Kisii. Siaya.

Nyanza is beautiful.

A sight for sore eyes. Cliche, I know, but it really is.

So many things grab your attention as you drive through. If it is not the women expertly balancing loads on their heads at Adiedo, it is the beautiful Nam Lolwe (Lake Victoria, Lake Nyanza) glistening at a distance. The acres of rice and sugarcane farms offer a deceiving impression of a soft bed for a tired traveler. Oh, do you want to know about the glorious sunsets? No, you must see them yourself. Words hardly suffice.

Nyanza is interesting.

During the trip, the driver would often feed my colleagues and I interesting tales of why this place was named so, why that stream never dries, and many precious nuggets about the rich culture in this part of Kenya. Stories and tales every one who cares to know should have access to. I mean, it is only common sense, right?

No. Apparently not.

I was extremely disappointed when I finally made my way to the Kisumu Museum. Ideally, I should find a fairly good amount of information about Nyanza and its people in the regional museum.

Wapi?

After the grueling but pleasant round trip, I was eager to go to the museum and dig deep into the culture and traditions that I had only glossed over during my road trip.

Woe.

The information there is Google material. I didn’t learn anything. Well, not true. I learnt that a third wife is called reru. I know the assumption would be that being from the Luo tribe, very little would surprise me anyway. That could not be further from the truth. In fact, I kid you not, any one from any other tribe who went through the 8-4-4 system would be bored silly at the regurgitated information from the GHC text books.
What did I expect? I will tell you.

1. The Obvious
Of course. The Luo homestead, the gallery showing the way of life back then (some still relevant today). Then the usual snakes. There were two crocodiles and tens of tortoises too. I didn’t expect the aquarium though, so that was a pleasant, though forgettable experience.

2. Music
I wanted to hear beautiful sounds of the Orutu and Nyatiti as I walked through the halls. The voices and foot thumping of the Ramogi dancers. Eh. How about Benga/ohangla tunes playing as you move from one section to another? Music and dance is a huge part of the Luo culture. Why would it be absent in a museum. Oh, by the way. There were traditional dancers in the Luo homestead area, only that they were dressed in modern clothes and were busy just beating stories. When we entered the ‘husband’s hut,’ we found two ladies, part of the troupe, plaiting each other’s hair inside the hut. I think they need to take part in an exchange program with the the Mijikenda to see how these things are done.

3. I should say at this point that Nyanza was/is not exclusively inhabited by the Luos. There are other nilotic groups like Kuria and Abasuba found in Migori County and environs. How about dedicating a section to them as well. The widespread intermarriage between the Luo and Abasuba is threatening to make the latter past tense. The community is actually almost extinct. I met a kind fisherman on the shores of Lake Victoria at Muhuru Bay who confirmed this. He taught me the basic greeting. Here:

Salutation: Warai
Response: Bukei

4. Speaking of diversity, the Luos are quite unique in their own regions. This is especially evident in the tales and folklore told in different areas. In Kendu Bay area, you will hear the story of Simbi Nyayima and Nyamgondho wuod Ombare. So fascinating I tell you. In Kano, you will hear of the legendary Luanda Magere. And there are many more. How difficult would it be to get a dani or kwaro to narrate these stories and have them recorded then played at a section dubbed “Sigana” or something better. I’m sure these could be translated and narrated in English too. Am I being too ambitious? Well. I am allowed to dream.

5. Kisumu Museum should be and is mostly one of the first stops for local and international tourists in the region. It should, in my opinion, be sort of a road map; where to find what, why is that interesting and why should I brave the sweltering heat to explore a certain area. As it is now, it lacks the charisma the people of this region are known to have. There is no talk about the stunning bay areas (Kendu, Homa, Muhuru); nothing about Rusinga Island, or the Simbi Nyayima site. What about Yala Falls or Kit Mikayi and the story behind it? Onge!

I am not quite sure how these things work, or who is in charge of what, but I do know there is a county minister of tourism and culture, Kisumu County. What is his scope of work? Can he work with his counterparts in the neighboring counties and the national Ministry of Tourism and Culture to influence a revamp of the Kisumu Museum? If ‘Nyanza’ foresees a future where she is not just known as a fish eating destination, more will need to be done. I think the museum is a great place to start.

Have you visited the museum? What do you think? Any suggestions?