Village life has revealed itself to be beautiful thing to document on our #UnexpectedKenya journey through Western Kenya. Has it always been ‘surprising’ or ‘unusual’ as per the project brief? Not really. But that hasn’t stopped Sebastian from clicking away.
Last year’s Capture Kenya photographer Allan Gichigi (who tackled this very zone) said it best: “A beautiful shot is a beautiful shot.”
And with interesting subjects, how could you not create them? Take Fidelia for instance. She was the lovely farmer we came across tilling her maize plantation when we finally got to Teso from Mumias. Only slightly taller than the jembe with which she expertly shifted the soil among her budding corn, Fidelia had a sweet smile and an adorable baby!
We dropped her off at home and set off to take pictures of a dancing troupe. Omongoluk Traditional Dancers turned out to live so deep inside South Teso that Safaricom morphed into MTN Uganda. As the van bounced along, we all started roaming. Cindy even got a welcome message from the partner network.
When we finally arrived, the troupe was very happy to receive us. The ladies wore khangas around their waists and across their chests but left their smooth shoulders bare. And it was blue shukas and head gear for the men. The ensemble takes its name from its founder, Omongoluk of Okokor area. After his passing a few years back the band members decided to keep the patriarch’s vision alive and invited Teso women from nearby villages to join up.
As Sebastian was busy taking pictures with Mulwa’s assistance (FYI, our location scout is pretty handy with a phone camera), I returned to the cool shade of the van to find a small group of children crowded by the door with lollipops sticking out their mouths. They kept dragging forward their little friends who hadn’t gotten one yet.
They even made a spirited plea on behalf of a shy herds boy whose sweet fell into a stream. Adorable. After we wrapped up the shoot, the ladies came to the van and one of them wished us journey mercies and other goodness.
There was just something warm and wonderful about that group. We remember them with fondness. Once in a while we use the Teso phrase for laughing hard, ‘cheka ding ding’, on each other.
The goal was to spend the night in Kericho so we had a long drive ahead of us. Four hours later, and with a belly lined with Kisumu chicken, I found myself breaking into hysterical laughter over a green-bulb-eyed buffalo head in Kericho’s Tea Hotel lobby. The 62-year-old inn was originally built as a club house for expatriates and still retains an old world charm. Clearly, all the items purchased then were genuine products.
The furnishings are straight from the 70s and impressively intact. It isn’t hard to imagine Lords and Ladies, Dukes and Duchess riding horses on the grounds or playing ring toss on the inviting lawns.
But present day patrons might see the space in a whole other light. Some people would love it but others would see the décor as kitschy and dated. And guess what? A man in white overalls knocked on my door just as I was grabbing my bags to checkout. He’d come to spray the room for bedbugs.