“Battle of the Bands”…of sorts, Kenya styleby kenya on Jun. 14, 2013, under Life
June 13, 2013
By Jake Rogers, St. Gregory Class of ‘14
After returning to Batian’s View from school today we had a bit of down time to relax. We all enjoyed our afternoon chai break, and my St. Gregory classlmates Noah Deitch and Pierce McGuire taught Grant Ross and me how to play the card game Hearts.
Again, as I always do, I asked the guys, “What’s for dinner tonight?” and instead of replying with the usual, “Probably meat and potatoes or spaghetti with something else,” they said, “You don’t know? We’re all going to Kazi Doniyo’s house for dinner.”
Kazi Doniyo is one of the workers at Batian’s View. He cooks, cleans, chops wood, and everything else one could possibly do for work at Batian’s View. He is a true, all-around guy. If he played for the Arizona Diamondbacks, he would be their best five-tool player. Kazi’s real name is Patrick Wamithii, and he was a guide on Mount Kenya for many years. Patrick’s nickname, Kazi Doniyo, actually means “any work” in Kiswahili, which fits very well. He has a big gap between his front teeth that he enjoys showing off with his big smile.
I was surprised to learn of our dinner plans at first because every night since we arrived in Kenya we had eaten dinner at the same spot at the same time. I was also excited to “dine out” tonight. We were going to spend time with Kazi Doniyo and his family, and enjoy a true Kikuyu dinner. At 6 p.m. we all grabbed coats and headlamps and started the walk to Kazi Doniyo’s house.
The walk was not terribly long and we all joked around as we usually do on our walks, and shortly arrived at Kazi Doniyo’s humble abode. His two grandchildren greeted us at the gate and walked us over to a small wooden hut with corrugated iron sheets for a roof.
When we entered, it was not at all what I expected. The walls were lined with colorful calendars and posters, with blanket-covered chairs and couches along the walls on every side. In the middle was a small table with a single lantern on it, barely enough to light up the room, but it did the job.
Twenty-five of us were packed into this small abode with Kazi Doniyo and his family, but it was surprisingly cozy and very comfortable. We all talked and laughed while drinking chai before dinner was served. After chai, Kazi’s wife, Veronica, who also had a jovial smile, served us a traditional Kikuyu dinner called mukimo, a mash of potatoes, beans, spinach leaves and maize. I was amazed to learn that if spinach isn’t available, the leaves of stinging nettles can be used.
After dinner it was time for some entertainment, and Mr. Roberts said, “So guys, lets think of a song or rap to present to Kazi Doniyo and his family.”
We all began to argue about what song to sing before suddenly begin hushed by Mr. Roberts saying, “We’re going to have to follow this.”
Without introduction Kazi Doniyo’s grandchildren began singing a beautiful song that made every one in the room smile. After they finished, we all clapped and now it was our turn.
We started by singing “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey, as everyone was able to sing along. Kazi’s family countered with another song of their own, and the song battle was in full force. We went on to sing “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Viva la Vida,” the “Star Spangled Banner,” “Some Nights,” and “We Are Young.” Every time we finished, our Kenyan hosts’ family would sing a song of their own, some of which we recognized and some which we did not.
After a fun and energetic back and forth between the Americans and the Kenyans, we all joined together in singing “If You’re Happy and You Know It.” We ended the night singing “Waka Waka” and “Waving Flag” as a group. Finally it was time to go, unfortunately, and we thanked Kazi Doniyo and his family for a wonderful night. We all walked home under a star-filled night and with smiles on our faces and another round of wonderful Kenya memories.