Women who behave rarely make history
I finally have time and an internet connection -- which means that I can write a blog post at last. Getting internet sorted for my tablet proved a bit complicated. The Safaricom shop in The Village Market (a big shopping centre on the outskirts of Nairobi had no dongles left. Fortunately, the shop in Nakuru, where we stopped for lunch on the way to Eldoret, did, but it involved getting a dongle and a sim card and a bundle. All to be purchased separately. Then when I arrived in Eldoret, I couldn't get the dongle to connect. Yesterday I did have connection, but no time.
Anyway, online now and with a few minutes to spare before we go to the second funeral this week.
I arrived in Nairobi on Wednesday morning. It was dark when we landed, but full daylight by the time we came out of the terminal. I remember this from Israel, but the speed at which dark changed to light still took me by surprise. Prof Esther Mombo and her brother picked me up from the airport at 7am: start of the rush hour and we had to go from one side of Nairobi to the other to get to Limuru. It normally should take only an hour, but it took us 2 1/2 hours to get across Nairobi. Traffic is at least as bad as London, but the driving is even madder than in London, with matatus and cars happily going off road to pass a queue of traffic.
We finally arrived at St Paul's University, Limuru. I was given time to rest, which I needed -- not much chance to sleep on the plane. The lights didn't go out until 9pm GMT and went on again, so breakfast could be served, at 4.30am Kenyan time (1.30am GMT). Dr Esther arranged for lunch to be brought to the guest house she had booked for me. I had an entire house to myself: living room, kitchen, 2 bedrooms with en-suites. Very comfortable. The afternoon was spent going back to Nairobi to get a new mobile phone (mine are sim-locked) and a Kenyan sim card. I am now paying less for a month's data than I would pay per week with my UK provider. I also met Rev'd Edna, the vicar I am staying with, and she showed me around the beautiful campus of St Paul's. In the evening, we had dinner at Prof. Mombo's house, where the slogan above is displayed above one of the doors. Esther Mombo is a well-known and respected Anglican theologian. She is a champion of women's rights and women's ordination. She has attended Lambeth Conferences and is a force to be reckoned with within the ACK (Anglican Church of Kenya). She also has a very important ministry training women for ordination and continuing their training after ordination. She keeps in touch with all her students and continues to nurture and support them. Edna, who I am staying with, was ordained after a diploma in theology. Esther helped her to find the money to do a full time degree course, which she finished just over a year ago. She has been in Chepkero parish since her graduation. Apart from the way tea is made, life in Limuru or Nairobi (for the middle classes) is not that different from life in the UK. Even the temperature wasn't that different. Limuru is very high up and quite chilly. By the way, we have had beautiful sunshine every day since i arrived and yet people still manage to talk and especially complain about the weather. The temperature is never right, it would seem, it is always too hot or too cold. We had a lovely evening at Esther's house, discussing the primates' statement and GAFCON bishops and other issues such as the position of women in Kenya and in the Anglican Communion.
The following day, Julius, the PCC treasurer of Chepkero parish, came to pick Edna and me up in his very smart Toyoto. He had been in Nairobi on business and agreed to stay on till Wednesday morning so he could give us a lif to Eldoret. He is a life member of a club in Nakuru, where we had lunch. The club was started in colonial days. These days many of the bankers in Nakuru are members. Julius used to be a banker in Nakuru. He also spent 2 months working for a bank in London and his English is excellent. On the journey, we saw baboons and zebras by the side of the road. We passed vulcanos with beautifully round craters and Lake Naivasha. We also passed huge farms beloning to people like Lord Delamere and Lord/Mr Barclays. Both had well maintained fences around them. We passed people selling things by the side of the road and countryside that sometimes looked very similar to Wales. Kenya is a fascinating country where climate is concerned. It appears that there is very little that will not grow here. They are able to produce very tropical fruits, such as mango and banana, but they also grow pears and apples. Potato is very popular here. And maize fields are a familiar sight to me both from Wales and the Netherlands.
Life in Chepkero Parish is rather dfferent from life in Limuru. We are 20 kms from Eldoret here. Edna has no transport of her own - not even a pushbike and relies on lifts or pays for motorbike 'taxi'. Makes ministry more complicated and time consuming, because she can't come and go as she pleases, because she is dependent on other people for lifts. She has 5 churches to get around. I had 5 churches in my first parish and have no idea how I would have got around them without a car. Yesterday, we were at a funeral for hours, because we could only get a lift in the morning. If Edna had had her own transport, we could have gone there to do the actual service, but could have avoided the speeches, introductions and tributes that went on for 3 hours!. The burial itself was very much like a burial in the UK. Except that the Kalenjin do not use cemetries (the Kiguyu do -- the tribe in Central Kenya), they bury people on their own land. The bits of wood that are used to support the coffin while it's over the grave, are used afterwards to mark the corners of the grave. The grave is filled in while the Mothers' Union lead the singing. Even though the liturgy was in Kalenjin, I could still follow most of it. The advantages of Anglican liturgy!
The vicarage here is comfortable, but basic. Edna has moved out of her room and is sharing with the girl who lives with her and helps with cleaning and cooking etc. Another friend has come to stay as well, to help the other girl while Edna was in Limuru to greet me. All three share one room at the moment. When I arrived there was no indoor plumbing, but the parish were busy layng some on. It was supposed to have been finished by Wednesday. They almost got it done yesterday, but there is an issue with the cistern. They're back today to try and fix that problem. But the tap is now working, so I don't have to go outside anymore to wash my hands and washing at night is easier. The first night, they gave me a massive container of water that was incredibly heavy! They manage to carry it, I barely managed to tip it so that I could wet a flannel! So much easier to be able to turn on a tap! I feel like I will never take indoor plumbing for granted again. The pit latrine isn't as bad as I had feared. It's certainly not very smelly. The thing I dislike most of all about it is the hassle: having to go outside to the other end of the (admittedly smallish compound), unlocking the door. That sort of thing. And, of course, at night time, that is when there is most risk of being bitten by a mosquito.
Almost time to go to the next funeral. Will write more soon.