A Travellerspoint blog

Obama's Gra'ma

(and other esteemed bloodlines)

semi-overcast 33 °C

We've been in Kisumu for almost a week and it's weird how quickly things can become familiar and normal- how walking through the market place and having many people shout 'Jesus' to Roger who nonchallantly walks on, and feeling the dust in our flip flops, and perpetually sweating buckets, and needing to boil water to drink it, and waiting for ages for yahoo to load...
..But there are other things which continue to take time and energy to adjust to, and understand. There have been so many moments of confusion over the last few weeks, particularly trying to negotiate rent and accomodation, when it seems expected to barter and then vague answers and 'mmm' sounds are given.

Roger and Rosalia were so kind and helpful this week, trying to help us settle here and as a result of their pro- active searching , we are temporarily staying in a nice place, probably for a month or so (well actually, who knows...mmmm...) and then hope to move to another house, which is needing repairs just now, where we can settle for the rest of our time here. It has felt good psychologically to unpack and put up personal touches like photos and calendars here, although it has been quite confusing here too, with people needing to finish odd jobs off in this house, so yesterday we were eating our breakfast and someone turned up to measure for curtains, someone else to fit a lock, and someone else to fix the oven.

Another major source of confusion are the languages- Kisumu is a junction for several tribal areas, (hence the post election violence 2 years ago) and Kiswahili, Luo and Luhya are all spoken. The people here can recognise which tribe you are from and greet you appropriately, but I have not mastered this knack yet, and have to keep asking Rosalia which tribe someone is from, and how to greet them. Thankfully when we went to visit Barack Obama's Granny today I was prepared with the correct greeting, although bodged up with the policeman, who was from a different tribe.

There have been many amusing moments, along with the continuous cultural faux pas I seem to keep making. Roger has provided much interest with his beard, and is recognised wherever we go. Yesterday he was called 'Judas Iscariot' and people keep asking if David is his son. Sadly he returns to Nairobi tomorrow so that will be one less source of entertainment and deep intellectual insights, as well as a loss of Roger's incredible taxi-driving skills negotiating all sorts of Kenyan road hazards (crazy matatu drivers who have no road sense, potholes, mish-mash traffic converging from everywhere, people in the middle of the road, cows in the middle of the road....etc...). Roger's stories of his extended family tree will also need to wait until we next see him - did you know that he is the distant relation to Princes William and Harry and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle? His relative also sold a brewery they owned to Guinness brewers back in the late 1700s! Roger boasts a plethora of brewers in his ancestry, a fact that is all the more interesting in that some of the inheritance money from the breweries helped pay for his schooling...! We didn't realise we were in the presence of an esteemed bloodline.

Talking of esteemed bloodlines.. the REAP dynamic duo of Rosalia and Roger have been very active in helping us tour some of the interesting sights around Kisumu and most exciting of all for David was a visit to Barack Obama's Granny in a police-guarded compound in the middle of nowhere. While we visited, another 2 groups came to pay their respects and get their photo taken with the very normal and unfazed old granny who was a great and cheerful host. We gave her some Scottish tablet and a little Scottish calendar to remind her of Obama's supposedly Scottish roots as well...Her humble home with cows roaming about and a simple brick hut with her family washing her clothes for her belie her position as the relative to the most powerful man on earth. Maybe we will be hosting Barack himself one day when he next comes to visit Granny.
Meeting Barack Obama's Grandmother

Meeting Barack Obama's Grandmother

Barack Obama's father's grave

Barack Obama's father's grave

Posted by africraigs 11:13

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