The students come face-to-face with Kenya’s historyby kenya on Jun. 09, 2013, under Life
June 8, 2013
By Julia Nestor, Catalina Foothills Class of ’13
Kenya, although beautiful in many ways, had a difficult history leading up to independence in 1963, that being the armed struggle for independence, also known as Mau Mau. Today our group visited a Mau Mau cave that had been previously occupied by the Freedom Fighters from the Mau Mau war, which eventually liberated Kenya from England. From this cave, and many others around Mount Kenya, the fighters would sneak off in the night with spears and arrows to fight the British, who were armed with guns and thousands of troops.
After a 3½-hour hike through the Kenya wilderness, we arrived at a magnificent waterfall. This grand entrance to the Mau Mau cave became our view while we caught our breath and ate lunch. We shared our lunch-time space with a group of local boys who enjoyed joking around with us and playing with us in the cold water.
However, already chilled from the shade in which I sat, I had no need to test the water coming from snow melt high on the mountain. Instead, I chatted with the boys using my limited Kiswahili. After taking a picture of one of the boys, I showed him my iPhone to let him look at his picture. Mystified with my phone he flipped through my pictures and giggled at the photos of my friends and the clothes that they wore.
After awhile, our group departed from the pool and took a quick walk up to the top of the waterfall. From there we could see the powerful flow of the water and the beautiful landscape surrounding it.
We continued on with our journey, but quickly were stopped by a documentary film crew that was filming and interviewing hikers about their experience at the Mau Mau cave. Along with the film crew was a veteran Freedom Fighter. He was a very jolly man with a white beard and big grin. He explained the revolution to us and his life as a Mau Mau soldier from 1952 to 1955, although the war continued on for two more years. He, along with thousands of others, were captured and held in detention camps where they were often beaten for no reason other than being prisoners. After the smoke cleared from the fighting, a million Kikuyu, the ethnic group responsible for the uprising, were displaced and 100,000 dead.
After our quick history lesson on Kenya’s independence, we continued on with our hike. Another 1½ hours later we arrived at a forest lodge with an expansive lawn and locals playing soccer and enjoying the afternoon. We met the owner who treated us to coffee and samosas, which are spicy meat pies with a crisp pastry covering. We eventually were picked up and given a lift to Noro Moru, a local town where we enjoyed interacting and bargaining with the vendors. In teams of four Mr. Roberts had given us shopping lists of the items we would need for our meals in the coming days. He didn’t tell us where we were to purchase the items, leaving us on our own to ask directions for where we could buy items such as fresh produce, meat and bread.
With that first part of our task completed, my teaching partner, Grant, and I found a “school” shop where we bought two soccer balls and five packs of chalk for our school. Even these seemingly simple staples at any school are in short supply. I know the students will love the balls, and the teachers, including Grant and me, will appreciate the new supply of chalk.