Kisumu had been good to us but we couldn’t stay there forever. Before we embarked for Bungoma though, we decided to squeeze in two early morning shoots.
What I like most about my team is that Cindy has created a space where all ideas are welcome. This makes Sebastian the lead dreamer with Mulwa and Mark piping up with suggestions about who and where to shoot.
I’m just the drowsy one in the group meetings interested in the suggested subjects but more importantly on what time we’re expected in the van the next day.
Our first task was to shoot a village musician Mulwa knew. He’d been asked to show up by a certain tree at 7:00 am. We’d skipped breakfast with a goal to return to the hotel within two hours with a memory card full of amazing pictures, ready to check out and make for Bungoma.
This was not to be. Well, not in the way we’d planned it anyway.
This lovely orutu-playing gent was nowhere to be seen at 7:00 am, 7:30 am, 8:00 am or even 8:30 am. The partly toothless fellow showed up at 10:00 am. And this is only after Mulwa had jumped on a tuk tuk to fetch him. Even after he arrived, he was dressed wrongly and had to go back and change.
Before then (and seeing as we had no time to waste), we decided to set up for the second shoot. It was with a group of ladies who’d been selected for a certain skill they possessed. They also showed up a little late and not dressed like we wanted. We had to improvise, get a few lessos and props to liven the scene.
Cue the chicken.
These were the three angriest broilers I have ever seen. Man, those fowls were in a foul mood. Cradled in the arms of three young men, the birds impatiently waited for their moment in the sun. At Sebastian’s signal the flightless birds hysterically flapped into the scene, kicking up dust, getting into a pecking fest as one sped off for the nearest bush.
The whole gang was in stitches.
By this time, Morris, the traditional performer had arrived and I think he tried to make up for his tardiness by playing his sweetest oeuvre. He had a strong, clear voice that, combined with the dancing string bow, caused many a-foot-tapping. And when Morris laughed, oh what a sound. It was from the belly—full, rich and infectious.
Several clicks later, it was a wrap.
We returned to the hotel and rested as we waited for Mulwa and Mark to return with their luggage and a bigger van. After a last meal of fried fish at Lwang’in (which we later learnt was Luo for ‘flies’), we stopped by Nakumatt for provisions then swung by Kisumu’s Java at Sebastian’s insistence. Of course the coffee hound knew that it’s the only one in Western Kenya and it was among the few “decent coffee house[s] he could trust”.
In any case, we were en route to Bungoma. The skies above were grey and brooding. But this only made the lush vegetation flanking the road to pop. The trees, bushes and shrubs were bursts of emerald, shamrock and lime. Utterly gorgeous.
Darkness soon fell and the soothing sounds of Culture’s ‘Humble African’ filled the van. We were all lost in reveries. I quickly snapped out of mine when I realized that I didn’t know where my phone was; not the fancy one a friend had lent me, but rather my old Nokia.
After riffling through all my bags I asked if someone could call the hotel and see if I had left it there. I had. Thankfully, Vic Hotel staff were able to locate it. Since we’d be catching our flight back to Nairobi in Kisumu, I was sure to get it back. Phew!
As I write these last lines, we are deep in the heart of Sangalo, Bungoma. The last thing I heard before climbing this van was, ‘Kuna mtu amesahau kitu?’ followed by a cheeky side-eye glance by the inquirer.
Why do I have a feeling this will be a question that will dominate the rest of this trip?
Bonus: Here’s a picture of the troublemaker:
Meet the entire Capture Kenya 2015 team here and read more stories from the road!