Kenya glossary










Farmer/petty trader


Kapsokwony market


18 November 1996



Section 1
The interview started after some preliminary background discussion.

Madam, could you tell me your name?
My name is Mary.

Mary - Josep is my husband's.

Mary Josep. Alright. Where are you from?
I come from Chemwes.

You are from Chemwes? Is that your father's home?
Yes. Oh you mean my father's? Chemsies.

Chemsies is your father's, Chemwes your husband's.

I'm very grateful to you for agreeing to talk to me and tell me about customs here in Mount Elgon and how you see life changing.
Which customs? Customs like circumcision, or about living?

Even just how people live. I'd like to know even about lifestyles, circumcision - all will be helpful. I see you have a child here. What is his name?
He's called Celestin Josep.

So madam, you told me you got married in 1986?

And how many children do you have?
I have four children. And the ones God has taken are two.

So you delivered six children.

And when was the first one born?
In 1987.
Section 2
OK. Oh. So, when you got married, did you find as though people were...were expecting...
[Interruption by husband who indicates some disapproval about the interview to her and then he leaves]

So we were talking about the child. When you got married, did it seem to you as though people were really expecting you to have a child?
[Laughter] This getting married…I just got to the homestead, they rejoiced and began expecting a child. And God gave me one and I delivered safely.

Now that first born, was it a girl or boy?
A girl.

It was a girl. Did you think they were joyful when the baby was a girl, or what did you think?
They rejoiced because it was a first born. They rejoiced.

OK. And the second child was...?
A boy. They also rejoiced with that one.

OK. Do people rejoice more when a child is a girl or a boy?
A boy more.

Because he is the one who will build the foundation of the home [laughter].

Do you think that even nowadays...even nowadays boys build the foundation of the home?
You know in the way we live here, our people say that the male is the one who builds the foundation. Sometimes they may even refuse to educate a girl. They say, “a girl will just waste that money. She has no educatability.”

Why do they say that she will waste that money?
That she won't study. So they put their efforts in the boy.

What do you think about that?
On that issue, if I were able...a child is a child. And when I see a girl studying, and that her parents have high hopes for her, she even passes knowledge to them.

And traditionally, in terms of feeding. Do girls and boys eat the same things or do they eat different things?
Traditionally in my home, boys and girls...girls eat less while boys eat more.

They eat or they are given...Are they given more or do they themselves simply eat more?
Well, you just feed them together. But when they eat, the boy eats more. But the girl, after a little she stops.
Section 3
Why do you think that is?
That's what I don't understand. Because when I see my two children, boy and girl, the boy eats more, the girl stops eating earlier. So I don't understand what it is. I can't fathom it.

In various customs out there, boys and girls are fed differently. Does that happen among the Sabaot?
Girls how...?

Well, the food they are fed is different from the boys.
But we Sabaot, we feed them both the same food. If it is ugali (food stuff made from maize/sorghum flour and hot water), they all eat; if it is meat, they all eat. It just depends on who refuses and says, “I don't want that.”

It just depends on the one who refuses saying, “that food mama, I don't like it.” You move it away from the one who has refused it in his heart.

OK. And now, looking after the children, who helps you? Is there anyone who does?
No one helps me. My husband and I help each other.

In your old customs is that how it was? That the husband and the wife alone would help each other with the child or...?
When I look at old customs, they were better because even the brother or the head of the homestead would come to help. He could give a cow to help. But these days, they say the mother and father…

Why do you think that custom has changed?
That's what I don't understand. I don't understand. And when I see, I don't know because now, with the Sabaot, it depends how they live in the homestead. If they don't have enough property to live comfortably, each person says, “me and my family alone.”

But when they live together... [interruption by a friend who then leaves]
We were talking about...this helping each other in the homestead. You were saying that when people live...You said that your husband's father gave him a shamba (small family plot)?

A small shamba. And then what did you say was in it?
That shamba? We just lived there but my father in law died a while ago. Now we have planted…we have planted a little coffee and a few bananas in it.

And now, you live in it?
No. We left it for a while and then we have gone to Chemwes. The shamba itself is in
Kibuk, up there.
Section 4
So whose shamba do you live in now?
We live in another woman's shamba. She lives here at the market.

Is she a relative or...?
A relative of my husband's. That is where we have gone to live.

Does she charge you or...?
No. We have now dug it.

So now you live there. You said you are the first wife and your husband has two
Yes. The younger wife is the one in that shamba across there.

In the shamba that you left?

You don't live together?
We don't live together. You see it depends. You see, she gave birth to boys, and here I am with girls. So they said that this one with girls should move. You know for us, they say the boys are the foundation of the homestead.

When they said that, how did you feel?
For me, there is nothing I could do because I am a woman.

And what did you feel inside?
I felt a little pain, and I just persevered to see what I would do.

Why were you hurt?
In that pain I was saying, “You have discriminated against mine, yet all are your children. All are your children.” And I just persevered. So he brought me here to eat (live) in this place that he has borrowed from that woman.

And why do you think your husband decided to marry another wife?
He married because…because of my children who died. He went to his parents and they told him, “You have married this one whose children die. It is better to marry another one whose children won’t die.” They said it openly.

OK. And how many years were you married before he married another?
We had stayed together for five years and then he married another one.

And how did you feel when they said that?
I hurt and I cried and it ended, and then I got myself together. There is nothing I can do now, because only God Himself knows about this matter. Because this death, everyone bears it. This death everyone bears it. If he has taken that one, I can curse no one. When they speak with evil mouths, there is nothing I will really say.
Section 5
Sorry. I know that all these things I'm asking you can...Please bear with me as I ask. I know these are matters that touch the heart. They touch the heart.

Now, were the children sick or what...what?
My first child just fell sick and died.

Just fell sick?
She caught a chest infection. And then the boy that this one follows (the second last born) was born with something here on the back. He came out of the womb with something on the back like this [demonstrates protrusion on lower back], and with a lame leg. But this child cried from birth and I took him to hospital. And then I returned home. I stayed with him and after a short time he passed away.

Like months?
I had one and a half months with him.

That is hard. To lose a child is very hard. Sorry. OK. Now this child that you bore who was lame and had something on the back, what did you say, or what did people say?
They told me these characteristics came from my home. They said, “From your home… This business is from your home.” But I persevered. There is nothing I can answer. What can I answer?

And is it true that it comes from your home?
No. This business...well I saw another child born in their home.

Oh. With that thing...
She gave birth. The older aunt's child. She gave birth to a child with that thing. And that child also died. And then the son of his elder brother just recently had a child. But that one is still alive.

So you said...did you tell them that this is not from your home and they should see that it appears in theirs, or what did you say?
Well, I answered them that since I was born, I have seen no child like that in my home. But I have given birth to such a child. And I told them, “How come I have never seen it?” And I said I had never seen a child born like this since I was born. Now I don't know. And I got upset, and I told them that maybe this feature was theirs. And we buried the child, and the matter ended there. He has never answered me. So I thought...

So who were you telling?
My husband. That is what I answered him.

Alright. If a child is born like that, do people think of witchcraft or such things?
Now…like that thing…doesn't it just come from the stomach? How can someone do witchcraft on it? [laughter] No one thinks of witchcraft. It's just a child who left the womb like that.
Section 6
Now, like you, with all this, I think you may have had misunderstandings with your husband, or on other issues...when people live together sometimes...
They quarrel.

Now when you quarrel with your husband, to make up...what do you do to resolve the conflict?
Actually, there is a time we quarrelled and fought and I went home, I returned home.

What had happened?
He beat me. But although he did, I had done wrong. He told me to cook him food and I didn't.

Why didn't you?
What prevented me is, I decided to go and do a little work in the shamba and then return before he did. Because since he had gone wherever he had, it would be a while before he returned. Because when he goes it usually takes a while. Alright. Now, I was late and he returned early. Then he beat me, that's why. So I took off, and ran home. After some days...

So he beat you and you beat him.
No. He beat me.

And can you beat him?
I shout. No. I can't beat him.

Because I was hurting. And we live together so I must respect him. Yes. I must respect him. So if he beats me, I run and take myself home. When I reach home, my parents ask me, and I told them that I was beaten. I didn't tell them I was wrong. I said, “He just came and beat me.” OK. Then I sat. After three days he came. When he came he told my parents, “She did something wrong. So I have come to take her back home. If I beat her, she herself knows her mistakes” So he was told, “She will return in two days.” And he returned home. So there I was, after those two days, they ground me some flour, caught me a chicken, and I returned.

So, when you return home, must they give you a chicken?
Yes. A chicken and flour.

How many times have you been taken back to your parents home?
Twice. I've returned twice.

Only those? And...that time, the next time, what had happened?

What I mean is, the first time you returned home because of the business with the food…

And that food, did you cook it for him every day?
Section 7
Was that the first time?
For him to beat me.

What did your parents say?
My parents? At home my parents said, “My darling, this is the first time. Return. Since the olden days people quarrel and they stay, they make up and they stay.”

Now, when you are in the house, and also if you disagree or quarrel, to bring things back to normal, do you talk or what do you...?
Like for us, we can quarrel, we quarrel until he beats me. I run away, I go [home] and stay… When I see that he has cooled [off], I get myself together and I return home. I return home, I knock. If he is there, I ask for forgiveness. If I am wrong I tell him, “please forgive me. If I've made a mistake, forgive me. Let us stay like we usually are.” Then he leaves me alone. He forgives me and leaves me alone.

And if he is wrong?
If it is him, he cannot accept. He oppresses me. [laughter] He cannot accept. Then another time when he is sitting and you have cooked him good food, and you have been living together well, he begins telling you, “I did you wrong, but I won't repeat it.”

He begins saying?
But at the actual time, he cannot say. He is annoyed and he leaves. He leaves and when he comes back, he eats well and is in a good mood. [laughter]

Do you and your husband love each other?

Do you and your husband love each other?
My husband? Yes. Yes we do love each other.

Because, I have lived with him, I have had these children with him. If we didn't love each other, we would not have borne all these children.

OK, that's true.
He is coming...[expresses some fear] Now what does he want to come and see again?

Your husband? Where is he?
There he is. You know these people...

Is he the one in the coat?
Yes. I don't know where we should pass. Should we cut this short or what?

[Husband comes, says we can continue with the interview because he has talked to the local councillor about us and has been told we are not trouble-makers. He leaves. Mary relaxes]

Section 8
Now, we were talking about this business of...if people quarrel in the house, how they live together. Was there anyone, as you were growing up, who taught you these things or did you see it yourself. Where did you learn how to live with a husband?
Well, before when I was still at home, when I would go to my maternal grandmother, we would chat and then she would tell me, “When the time comes for you to get married, don't abuse your husband, your family or his. Don't discriminate. When either your family or your husband comes in, be open - they are all your people. OK. Let all of them be your people. Even if you have worked and you are tired, run, make them food. You will live well with them.”

“You will live well with them. And your husband at home, when you quarrel, even if he beats you, run. If you see that he wants to beat you, go hide. That's all. And then return. When he cools [off], return. When you come back, you begin to take care of your children and he himself will say, ‘You have saved yourself from me.’ He will leave you alone. He won't beat you again. And you will continue with...your progress that you have had. And continuing…you will continue with him well.”

Did your mother ever teach you these things or was it your grandmother?

I loved going to my grandmother's house. I would leave my mother and run there.
[interruption by fellow vegetable vendor. After she leaves, Mary whispers that she abuses her husband]

You say she abuses her husband?

And when you see that, what do you think?
The way I see it, it's bad.

It's bad? Why?
Yes. It's bad. To abuse the husband that you live with, that you eat the same food with, that you bring up your children with. But to abuse him, I see it as bad. I hurt when I think of abusing my husband. No matter what. Even if he beats me, I ask forgiveness, “Forgive me, if I have done something wrong, forgive me.” And him, he will hear and come back to normal. And he will say, “Actually, she has asked forgiveness.”

Was there any situation in which perhaps, your husband wronged you and you went home, and that he had to bring a chicken? Could that happen?
For him to bring...No. He cannot bring a chicken. It's wrong! In our Sabaot customs, it's wrong!
Section 9
You know a chicken blocks the property that they would have given now to that home. I am the one who comes home with a chicken.

Even if he wrongs you?

Even if he is wrong, you are the one...
I am the one to bring it. When he comes home, if he has a little money, that is what he takes from to give to my parents.

But he cannot bring...?
He cannot bring a chicken. And if there is property, and if he hasn't paid a cow, he cannot bring it while I'm still at home. I must return first [to my married home] so that the cow can go. So that the cow can go.

Now said that you and your husband got married before any property went (was given in dowry payment).
Like for us, we got married before that property went (was given), and I'm staying. Like for me, they haven't paid my cows. They have paid the money, and they have paid the mother's, they have paid the father's but no cows have gone. And a blanket, it also hasn't gone. So now, they need to send a letter to my home, to my parents at home, money, beer. They should brew beer there, and then the cows go.

Now these cows, these ones which haven't yet gone (been paid), can it bring trouble in the house?
Like these cows which haven't gone, it can't bring trouble in the house. Except the parents. My parents - mama. They are the ones who will have...they say, “Now this child (the narrator’s husband) has taken our child for so many years, and has brought nothing.” That is what can make the parents even report him to the government.

To the government? OK.
Yes. They report him to the government. And then they will call my husband and ask him, “How many years have you lived with so-and-so's daughter?” And he will say, “This many years and I have given nothing [to her parents].” Then the government can pass a specified time period for him to pay that dowry.

And has this issue caused disagreement between you and your husband?
Dowry issues cannot make me and my husband fight. Because if he and I live peacefully together, it means the matter came from my parents. But it's true that it can make us disagree. If I see my parents crying and they have not benefited, I will fell the pain. I'll say to my husband, “Look at how my parents are crying. They have suffered with me since I was a child, until now. They even help to feed us. Until now. You could take anything small that there is and give it to them.”

Now, there are some husbands who, if they have no quarrel with you, will ask, “So what did you discuss with your parents? What maize do you see here that we have refused to give?” So this now causes quarrels. This causes quarrels. You hear and see your mother cry. She has not even a leso (piece of cloth) to tie around herself. So as a girl you feel pain and you say, “If only my husband would give something small to my mother.” And there are other husbands, who can take something small and say, “Let me give this to mama.” When mama goes, she finds it. While she is going, he drops it behind her. And she says, “Now what was that?” [spitefully]. Now this brings quarrels. But if he has given dowry, has given the owner's something, when the parents come, they talk to him nicely and there is no quarrelling. Even the mother herself will not quarrel. And I won't say anything to her.
Section 10
OK. Now, there was something else I wanted to know...about the family. Now, you have borne six children, although you have four. Are you planning to have other children?
In fact right now, he himself has told me, “We should rest and feed these ones. We need to see, how will we bring these up, what will the future be like?” He has said, with this one, we stop.

Now that he has told you that, what are you doing to stop or...?
To stop. Now, the way we had discussed it, I asked him that we plan our family and he refused. He said, “You cannot go to family (family planning clinic) now.

When was this?

When was this? When were you discussing this?
Now, about two weeks. Two weeks. Because this child is still small. And he sees and says, “Now see how life is taking us, there is no good work. What we must do is stop this (having children) first for a while and see how to deal with these children.” So I told him, “There is a family planning clinic, we can go together and stop.” Then he said not to go there. “Let us plan our family at home. You know like the monthly period, the time that you can measure when I can conceive...”

OK. So you measure yourself during your monthly periods.
I tell him myself, “I am this way and this way.” Then he won't come close to me. In fact he told me, “We can take two weeks apart.” With that, in our consideration, a child cannot be conceived. She cannot be conceived. But he does not want to go to the hospital to plan the family.

Why do you think he has refused?
I haven't understood yet. To understand, I want to find out slowly from him until I know.

Oh. To know why he wants that...
Section 11
Now these two weeks that he stays away, which would they be?
These two weeks - well today is the 18th [November]. So it would be about the 5th of December. That is when I will see when he tells me to go to the hospital, we should stay away from each other. Because he has two wives. He will move closer to the other wife while I wait for that allocated time to end before he returns.

So, given your monthly period, which two weeks would these be?
Like now...

Like if you have your monthly period now, would these two weeks have passed or...
They have passed. Because we discussed it together we agreed that if two weeks pass, I would not conceive. After all, I've been a mother and I have borne children. I have measured the dates when I can and the dates when I cannot conceive. That is the time we leave, we leave each other.

And when...before you discussed this issue of family planning, when you got married, did you discuss it?
No. We didn't discuss family planning when we got married. We looked forward to having a child.

Alright, that's fine...
We looked forward to having what? A child. And then when we got a child, in fact the first child then we got the second child. And then this death business came in and we saw that God had taken that one. Now the ones we have are alive. We see that feeding them has become difficult for us. We can't add another one.

Did people who lived long ago plan their families or...?
They didn't plan their families. They would just leave each other alone for durations like this.

Oh. So they would stay apart...
Girls in the old would find a girl of thirty still at home unmarried. 30 years. When she now gets married, she bears two or three children. Those are enough for her. They are enough for her. But nowadays, you find a child of about twelve. She bears and bears. By the time she is thirty, she has borne about ten children.

So in your opinion, people before had fewer children than nowadays?
Yes. And they lived good lives. But now, when I see life these days, I see a lot of people are unable to feed these children.

Why do they have many children?
I don't understand. I don't know what makes people have a lot of children. Even since I had mine, I can't even buy clothes. Isn't this kind of life hard? My husband and I asked each other about his. I am the one who started asking him. I started asking my husband, “My husband, right now, I myself have measured that my body is getting weaker. And I have seen the children. Yet when I enter the kitchen I'm lost because there is nowhere to get food quickly. And my body is getting weaker. What can we do to reduce, so that we can feed these ones first? And first of all, when I consider the future and our children's lot in life, will it be good or bad? I ask myself. In the old lifestyle, they would have few children, and the children they brought up would go into good lives. These days, will I be able to school these ones, or will they ever have a good life?” This is what I asked myself and my husband. That is when I thought that we should wait and feed these ones first. To see how they will be educated? How they will eat? How they will live.
Section 12
Now, let me ask you. This method that you have chosen of planning your family through periodic abstention, if the other wife were not there, do you think it would be possible?
Now, it would not have been possible because my husband would have been around. He would be next to me. And when a man is in the mood, even if you say, “I am unsafe”, he cannot accept it. [laughter]

Alright. have lived here in Mount Elgon, this is where you have grown up and become an adult. What does this mountain, Mount Elgon mean in your life?
This Mount Elgon? [laughter]

Does it mean anything in your life, this Mount Elgon? The mountain itself?
The mountain itself?

Do you think about it or not, or is it just there...?
You can find that for us women...this mountain of Mount Elgon...its meaning, we don't understand what happens on Mount Elgon.

You don't understand?
We just sit here!

So you know there is something which...
What kind of thing?

What kind of thing?
Like these crops, when they plant them there on Mount Elgon, there is food. Now, as for the mountain itself...we stay here but we don't understand its meaning.

And your children grow into adults, and leave Mount Elgon to go live down there [in the valley]. Would you feel good or bad about it or would it not matter to you?
If they leave here and go...

That is, if they leave this mountain and go to live down there?
To live down there... You know, the problem we have is when Mount Elgon children leave, the children who leave to go to the region down there, the climate disturbs them. The climate disturbs them.

In what way?
Because it's cold here. When they go to a hot place, they fall ill. Malaria disturbs them all the time.

And traditionally, where there things which were don't in Mount Elgon or did you...even if you were a girl?
Tradition? Tradition continues here in Mount Elgon. If a child stays at home, if a child stays at home - a boy or girl – she/he will stay. When...a girl reaches 15 years, a boy 18 years, they go through the traditional custom of circumcision. We Sabaot perform circumcision customs. After they have been circumcised, the child now begins. If it is a girl, she gets married. Like for us here, we just get married. So long as there is agreement. When you agree, you go. You go. Although, these days they have now started...that is they have started if you have someone, we ask our parents. In the past, they would not show their parents. They parents would be shocked when you have written a letter. They would just write a letter to let them know, “We have taken your daughter.”
Section 13
Now, about this marriage issue, like for you when you got married, had you just been circumcised?

And when were you circumcised?
Circumcision, ‘84. And then I stayed ‘85 and ‘86 then I got married.

And when you were delivering your children I know delivery is hard, did you have them in the house, in the hospital or...
Delivery? When I delivered my first child, I delivered at home. I didn't know I had progressed. That is, I didn't know yet how a child comes when she/he is about to be born. And then the day came. When it came at night I was with mother.

Your mother?
Yes, my own mother. I had left to go home.

But you didn't know.
I didn't know the child wanted to be born but I counted my months and they were nine. But I didn't know the date. So I decided to go. Even my husband said, “Go home where mother is.” So I went where mother was.

Is that the Sabaot custom or did you just do it?
It is the Sabaot custom. Even if depends. Whether you go home, or remain at your married home, you still deliver. Or these days, you can go to hospital. The way I gave birth to my first child is that I went to where my mother is and I gave birth at home. I gave birth smoothly without a problem. The only thing is that the afterbirth gave some problems. It stopped. It stopped for an hour. One hour. And when that thing stopped like that, there is a woman, Mama Makunga. She was close by. Now this woman, I slept down and she helped me.

She removed it?

She removed it with her hand?
Yes. When she removed that thing, then I sat with my child. Now the second child, I now went to the hospital.
Section 14
And did you deliver all the rest in hospital?
This one I delivered at home.

This last one you delivered at home?
Yes, but I delivered two in the hospital. The first one who died and then my second son. And then another girl again. I delivered three in hospital. And the one who died, who had that thing (back protrusion), I gave birth to him at home. That one just came suddenly like this and said, now push the child.

That first one?
No, this one who died. .

And when you are delivering, who can be close by? Can anybody come close by or who can?
Yes. Anyone can move near. I mean...

Even me?
Even like you.

Even if I have never given birth?
Even if you have never given birth you should move close by, move near to see whether the child is coming well or what is the situation?

Even in the past, anybody could...
Well, it depends. Sometimes the child can press you and push you before anyone comes and you give birth. Like this one, I pushed myself. I was completely alone. All alone. Then God opened me and everything followed. Everything right there.

And to cut did you cut it?
The cord? I now knew. Since I had given birth to these others, I had now known what they do.

Eh? You really worked.
[laughter] Not really.

Do you find delivering in the hospital and delivering at home the same or...
I think delivering in the hospital is better because if you deliver in the hospital, they can examine you to see whether your condition is good or bad. If the child is badly positioned in the womb, or if it comes out properly, they examine you. Sometimes the blood may be finished in the body, at the hospital, they know. But at home they don't know. They cannot tell if your blood is finishing. And there are others who try, give birth to a child and begin fainting.

Oh. The mother herself?
Yes. The mother herself. Now there, I see that the hospital is good. They revive you and examine you to know. Now at home, if it is at home, I see that you can give birth, sometimes they see those two cords, the one which is attached to the afterbirth that follows the child like this. If you deliver at home, you can find some women who don't know and can even pull you. They can pull like this, and that this can cut in the womb and you die. Now like...when I delivered this child, I prayed to God and said, “God has helped me.”
Since I went for all those in hospital, I think it is good. You deliver properly and they care for you well. But at home, these women cannot know. Look, the blood can stop in the stomach and cause you problems. It is good to deliver in the hospital. Because if the blood stops, in the hospital they see. And in the end, even that blood in the stomach cannot hurt you.
Section 15
Now, you delivered some in the hospital and some at home. Why?
Now this first one, I delivered her at home, it wasn't like I was prepared to give birth. I didn't know I was about to give birth. And when the time came, my mother was there. Yet she knew when a child is about to be born. That is when she just held me, held me and said, “Just push. Just push.” I pushed, and she was sitting in front of me, and that is how that child was born. My child almost died.

Eh? Really?
You see, the time period within which she should have been born passed.

Because when I delivered this child, I didn't know I was about to give birth. I said to myself, “No. This child wants to kill .” I was scared. I was scared.

And when you gave birth to these children, did you put them to the breast? Like this milk [pointing to a glass bottle with milk], is this the child's?
It's the child's. It's cow milk.

It's cow milk?
It's cow milk.

Now, do you...
We feed them on the breast, and then we give them cow milk.

Like how many months on the breast?
On the breast...

Let's say you've just given birth. Do you put the child on the breast or do you give cow milk?

For what period before...
If I've just delivered, if I've just delivered, they will begin by giving her water. They warm a little water and then give her to drink.

Now that is what I don't understand. Even at the hospital there is water they give them

Is it just water?
No. Medicine. It is in bottles.
Section 16
Oh. But when the women do it they give water.
At home now, they have become wise. They warm water and give a little to open here [pointing to the throat]. And then now the breast. Now she will suckle for a month before I give cow's milk. I add a little water to make it light. I won't use it while it's still creamy, it will disrupt the stomach.

Now, let's say traditionally, did women give children cow's milk or did they put them on the breast?
They gave cow's milk. Breast and cow's milk.

So, who taught you to do that?
[laughter] Mama.

Your mother?

Did she show you?
Yes. When I had my first child. But first, when she had children after me, I saw her. I was still at home and I saw my mother.

And on the breast, for how long can they suckle?
The child to breastfeed? Like me, I had my children quickly one after another. My child, my first child breastfed for seven months. And then I conceived. That is when I began the cow's milk and stopped the breast. Well, I tried to give her the breast, but it would disturb her. She vomits, diarrhoeas, and I stop her. That is when they told me to now give her the milk those were the women from home.

Why did she begin vomiting since she had been drinking that milk before?
Well, she was suckling. But then, I became expectant.

She was suckling and then you conceived.
Yes, and it troubled her. The women at home told me, “Don't breastfeed, know that there is another one in the stomach. That is what is disturbing her. Just feed her cow's milk.” So my child breastfed for these seven months. And then she had cow's milk.

But the second one, I breastfed him for two years, while adding cow's milk.

Cow's milk?
Yes. Two years. I didn't have another one after him quickly. You see, that was a son but I didn't have another one quickly. After the girls, that's when I have another one quickly.

Do you deliberately have another one quickly?
You see, a child comes before the other one has grown. Even that blood flow sometimes refuses to come and there is a child. It has done this to me twice. It doesn't come. Well, I just have a child and stay like that until another one fills the stomach. But no blood has come out. For two children that I have borne it has done that.
Section 17
OK. Now having sons soon after girls, are you the one who would time your monthly period or would it just happen that way?
If I am supposed to have a girl, the monthly period doesn't come. But if I will have a son, it comes out.

Well, that is quite a pattern.
I can't fathom it. I mean, the children come quickly. And if girls follow each other like that, I don't see a monthly period. And if I have a girl, like now, no monthly period has come. Now that this one has been born, I already know that I will have a child. And it is a son. That is why I stay away [from my husband]. But if it were a girl that I would be following this one with, that thing - blood would have come. I have had two children without that blood coming out. Now that is what brings problems. Now I can't know. I even go to the clinic to say that I haven't had my monthly period. Now they examine me without success themselves. But there is a day, they will examine me like that until they know. So that is what makes me have children quickly one after another. Because no monthly period comes. I just get shocked when my stomach is already big.

Now let me ask you, as you said, that God has helped you, what [religious] denomination are you?
I'm in Seventh Day [Adventist].

When did you join the church?
I joined the church after I had had two children.

And before you joined the church, did you...did you follow tradition or...?
I followed tradition very much.

What difference is there between the traditions and the church?
And the church? I see a difference, there are some traditional things that they talk about [in the church] but they still continue.

Like what?
They say there are some traditions like those traditional customs. With the church on one hand, they can tell us to go to church. And we can go, and if we have a son, he goes to be circumcised in the hospital. That is the church. But when we see, with this hospital issue, and for a child to be circumcised in the hospital, traditionally for us Sabaot, it is also bad. So we still follow our customs. And even if he goes to hospital, he must come and go through it traditionally.

You mean he goes, even if has undergone it in hospital, and then he comes back...?
Yes, he must go through it traditionally so that he can live a good life. If it is a boy, he can marry and live in his home with a woman well.

So, do you see any difference in how people live in their homes, for those who live traditionally and the Christians?
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In your own home, do you live traditionally, or as Christians or do you mix?
We mix [laughter]. Now we mix because on one hand, in Christ, we are there. And traditionally, we are there. Like if something small happens, like when that child of mine died, they went on until they brought me into the traditional customs again. So there I was, and they did all their things for me. They say that in the old days people would hold a mkuki (spear)...

They held a what?
Mkuki. You know when that child came out with a lump on the back, they said they must bring this child through the customs. Then they took me back and I started following the customs. For us we say, that if we have a child, the will circumcise him according to the church. We can even call a ...because there is tradition. We can even do it with the church people coming home to pray for him, and then he undergoes the ritual at home traditionally.

Thank you very much. You have helped me and I have kept you here for a whole hour.

Thank you.