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(KENYA 19)








Schools inspector




November 1996


This is a detailed interview with the narrator focusing on his career development from teacher to school inspector. He emphasises the importance of education and his belief that boys and girls should have equal opportunities. He gives a detailed account of the clashes between the Sabaot and Bukusu and the surrounding politics. He also covers the issue of some of those living in the higher regions of Mount Elgon being resettled onto government land in the lower areas, as well as what the mountain and its environment means to its inhabitants. His responses give the impression of someone who is in the role of an observer rather than an active participant. There are lots of long detailed responses to the interviewer’s questions. Unfortunately, major sections of the testimony are unclear and confusing – this may be due to poor translation.

detailed breakdown

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Section 1-3  Education and employment history – grew up in a polygamous family. Joined the Kenya Farmers Association as a clerical officer. Decided to change career and become a teacher.
Section 4  Joined the District Education Office as a schools inspector in 1993. Believes Mount Elgon’s children have great academic potential, but that they are hindered by lack of facilities and staff.
Section 4-5  Discusses how teachers of different tribal origins have been returning since the clashes. “I want to particularly say that the Bukusu teachers do commendable jobs, especially the Bukusu who come from Mount Elgon.”
Section 5-9  Tribal clashes in 1992: “I think the clashes were politically instigated by people who knew what they were doing…” Detailed discussion of the reasons for conflict, starting from Independence. “In summary I would say that the only mistake I have seen in our friends the Bukusu is that they did not appreciate the fact that the Sabaot existed. Because of that, the Sabaot felt it was unfair, to be in the same administrative unit as the Bukusu.”
Section 9-10  Lack of development: examples of projects that were planned but never implemented – problems of not having maize-buying centre.
Section 10-12  Causes and results of clashes - introduction of multi-party politics ignited existing differences. Many were displaced from the area and their farms, education suffered because of understaffing, businesses suffered as could not transport goods.
Section 13-14  Problem of guns having been smuggled across the border during the clashes. This has lead to a general increase in crime and violence (eg: cattle rustling), which in turn has lead to large numbers of security forces being posted to the area - not appreciated by local people who feel harassed by them.
Section 15  Girls’ education in Mount Elgon. People have tended to think in the past that it is not worth educating a girl, but attitudes are changing due to influence of western culture and realisation of the benefits of education.
Section 16  Believes polygamy was practised for economic reasons, because a man who has many responsibilities and resources can benefit from several wives helping him. Attitudes are changing though, because of Church’s influence, but also because of decreased economic resources.
Section 16-17  Importance and significance of Mount Elgon region: clean water, fertile soil, caves that provide fertiliser (lime?) and shelter for animals, and certain areas which have religious significance.
Section 17-20  Talks about the upper mountain people and their resettlement by the government (the text is particularly confusing here).