Saturday, October 13, 2012

No Two Places

No two African places are the same, of course, and the peoples are broadly diverse.
Joseph and his family
are Mijikenda.
Barack Obama's family comes
from the Luo tribe
I've met some of themWhen they find
out I'm American, they ask if I know
Obama, and they're a bit surprised
that I haven't met him in person. 
The 40 million folks of Kenya, for example, are variously Kikuyu, Luhya, Kalenjin, Luo, Kamba, Kisii, Mijikenda, Meru, Turkana, and Maasai. A few from other ethnic groups (Arabs, Indians, and Europeans) are there as well.

Are there differences? Why, yes there are.  (And there are between 40 and 70 tribes, depending on how you count, they tell us.)

The Mijikenda (Swahili for 'nine homes') are a group of nine sub-tribes.  They settled in Kenya in the 16th century, and now spread along the coast from Somalia in the north to Tanzania.  The Mijikenda are considered the best cooks among the Kenyan tribes, by the way.  Rice cooked in coconut milk is a specialty down south among the Digo sub-tribe.  Not bad, really.

Ask them. They'll tell you all kinds of stories about their history and culture.
Abdul and his family are Arab.
Isaac, my friend and personal
adviser, is Maasai.  He tells
me which of the local
vendors are crooks.
As varied as they are culturally, they all get along quite well together. At least regular folks do. The crooks and the politicians (but I repeat myself) seem to be the annoying exception.

Mijikenda kids in Shanzu.
East of Mombasa, children play jump rope with a vine they found.

Oh, the young lady in the 'AFRICA' photo up top is from Djibouti and a nice family.  They're friends of ours too, and from Somalia, I think.

You should go and see for yourself.  Coastal Kenya and the highlands are wonderful.