Journey Through Kenyan Life

Collage treeOnce again the stories behind my photographs lead us to the beautiful country of Kenya. The mid day sun beets down on us as we play with children and construct houses made of wood and mud. Men come from afar bringing wood. Noticing the lack of wood, I ask two native men if I could tag along with them to find more trees for the house. After some discussion in Swahili, one of them named Abraham, resembling someone from Jamaica, with his hair matted and tucked under a hand knitted green hat, and an orange button up shirt, and a smile that hinted to his “hakuna matata” (no worries) lifestyle, turned to me and said that I could come along. As I followed my two “guides”, I could not help but notice the lack of boarders. It seemed as though everything was a community effort; the gardens, and livestock seemed to all be maintained by the collective. Nonetheless, the village did have its borders, which was signaled by a white flag. Shortly after walking through a valley, we come upon a scrawny looking nine-foot tree, which appeared to be out of a Dr. Sues book; the leaves sprouted from the bottom and beautiful blossoms bloomed at the top. One of the men took a machete, and before we knew it, the tree collapsed onto the road below us. While retrieving the tree, I heard a couple of cowbells come from around the corner. An older gentleman herding the cattle makes eye contact with me, smiles and says “jambo” (hello) while nodding his head. I greet him back saying “jambo bwana” (hello sir) as I shake his hand in this common acknowledgment here in Kisumu, Kenya. The three local men begin to chatter in Swahili that exceeds my knowledge of the language. My guide turns to me and says in English that this man would like for you to photograph his cattle, a strange request but I agree. I am lead to a river; here it seems to be a whole different community, bathers wash up in this cold roaring river, a boy that looked to be ten or twelve catches my eye with his blank stare as he corrals his cattle. The older gentleman Kenya3-49 2points with excitement showing me that this group of cattle was his. With efforts of getting interesting angles I crouch and lie on my back and photograph these mighty beast. Hooves step right beside my leg, and the horns of bulls get a little to close for comfort. However, in order to get good images it takes some risk. After dodging hooves, I see a woman making her way down to the riverbank carrying a load of laundry on her head. Through my guide translating I ask her if I could photograph her as she did her laundry and she said “ndio” (yes.) I later found out that her name was Lillian. She probably thought that it was strange that someone wanted to photograph her doing this daily chore, but I was very gracious for her hospitality. Heading back to the village with two trees in hand, we pass sugar cane fields to the right with smoke rising from them, which shows the kind of life these people lead. I was appreciative these two men let me come along to get some wood, but the stories that came out of this journey were nothing short of extraordinary.

Washing clothes

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