Kenya glossary

Dina and Margaret









Dispossessed farmers




November 1996



This interview was conducted with co-wives Dina and Margaret. Unfortunately there is no indication of who is speaking when, though Margaret apparently dominated the interview.

Mummy Dina, which year were you born?
Section 1
Where were you born?

Could you please tell what you did since your childhood up to now and how life was like?

Or could you tell us what plays you used to do when you were still a girl?
We could jump here and there. They could use soil to cook some food for their parents, try to put up houses, feed the children, practice her brewing which could later be accompanied by ululations. The beer to be was mainly prepared for circumcision. Young children also imitated how circumcision ceremony was carried out, by taking candidates to the river and putting some mud on their bodies. Up to this moment, I still see my neighbours’ children still carrying out such plays.

Mummy Margaret, what is your level of education?
I didn't go to school.

What of you, Mummy Dina?
I also didn't go to school.

Could you remember what used to differentiate between children plays and young girls’ plays during your time of childhood?
Girls used to engage in dances (discos).

Where did they dance?
They could just arrange them in the homesteads consecutively. This was done in the evening and the whole night so that they could go back home in the morning behaving as if they had done nothing.
Section 2
At what time did you people go for the dance (disco)?
At around 8.00 p.m. and 9.00 p.m.

At night?
Yes! You had to wait till your parents have slept.

Was it a secret kind of disco between girls and boys?
Yeah! We could dance the whole night and come back. By morning each and everyone could wake up pretending to have overslept that morning and no one could notice what they had just done.

How do you feel living in the slopes of Mount Elgon?
It is so good apart from the things that happened recently.

What things Mummy?
The recent fire although at the moment we are living peacefully despite the ups and downs of life.

What about the fire?
People have been burning each other’s property and stealing too. But at the moment we are staying well.

Were many people hurt during that time of fire?
Even us.

I know it is a bitter experience, which we have also heard, and read about but we didn't actually know what happened. Could you please tell us how it did affect you?
It was so bad. You could not stay in the house. You could not even sleep. Can't you see that we don't even have chairs and cattle? Getting cow dung for smearing our floor is a problem. We have nothing to eat, no soap, and even clothing is a major problem. Therefore we lack everything. That fire was a major one, I could neither sleep nor eat as we spent most of the time looking for a hiding place. Even that good house was burnt down including the chairs and clothes that were there. They broke all the utensils they came across in this house. This door belonging to my house has had to be replaced because those people also broke it. We have actually been left with nothing.

Were they also stealing cattle?
We had fourteen cattle, sixteen sheep and so many chicken but all of them were taken away. This co-wife of mine had almost a hundred chicken. We had so much milk that even if you drank you couldn't finish. We had very big gourds for storing milk and so many eggs, which cannot be traced now. I have now started to relax and do nothing since I cannot recover the lost property as it is too late. Of late we have been having four cattle but now we are only left with two. They demolished that cracked wall and broke all these windows using their spears. I am very much afraid when I hear people saying that the same things are going to happen again. I think I will sneak to a far away place.
Section 3
Where had you been staying before clashes?
Here…in this homestead.

What were you doing when these people came?
It was actually our bad luck because the moment we heard the shooting of guns, we thought it was in a far away distance but to our surprise, our enemies had arrived here.

Where had they reached?
They had arrived in this farm of ours the moment we were by the riverside, which you have just been. On looking back, the houses were already on fire. We had been cheated that the iron-roofed houses could not be burnt but when we came back, everything was in a mess. Everything in my co-wives house had been taken including our doors. Maize that was fully packed in the store, chairs. A hundred sacks of maize belonging to my co-wife had been taken and the rest of the stores were set on fire, consuming all the maize. These people also carried away my sufurias (pans), rotten maize, cooked cassava which I had just cooked for my family and my basins. We opted to run away and come back later as we had overheard that they would not demolish structures in the homestead.

Oh! That was a bad incident. What of you neighbours?
These people who stay up there, they are the ones who caused fire.

What were they doing?
Some things.

Can you neighbours do such a big harm on you?
All these fights came up because the residents of this place didn't want Teso in their land and so they had to burn their property.

Have you said that they didn't want Teso?

Do they want to get rid of you for good?

Do you think this was the reason as to why they were against you people by doing all that havoc?
I don't really know but it was because of…

Or what you may have heard from other people?
People have been saying that the Sebei people plus other inhabitants of Mount Elgon wanted Teso to go back to their ancestral land, leaving only the Sabaot group in their land. Their major aim was to make foreigners to the land as poor as possible and they have indeed achieved their goal.

That was a bad incident!
They went as far as burning my daughter’s exercise books.
Section 4
Everything was burnt and the girl is sick too.

Your girl? Sorry…
They carried away some books and the heavy ones were burnt until we are very poor and I wonder whether we shall ever recover to our previous level or not. In fact we have to move from place to place in order to feed. Probably we shall come up in the coming days.

Were they only destroying property belonging to the Teso or even to non-Sabaot?
It also happened to Bukusu who were occupying Kimobo up on Mount Elgon. Some Teso also used to stay there. The two groups’ property was burnt down. There were incidents whereby the whole family had to die.

A whole family?
Yeah!… I recall the Teso family that wholly perished recently because of the tribal clashes. They were staying down there.

Does it mean that you closest neighbours down here in the slopes were not affected?
You know, the whole of this place Poti is occupied by Teso and this area extends up to that river over there. Beyond the river are the Masaai.

What of the Masaai?
The Masaai are on the other side and since they are of the same origin, nothing was done to them.

They could do no harm to the Masaai?
Masaai are highly respected as their brothers unlike Teso and Bukusu. Therefore they lost nothing as they have their own cattle and houses.

They could do havoc to non-Masaai?
They burnt so many things and they went as far as stealing my eight kittens.

What was it?
The young ones of a cat.

Do you mean they carried them away?
I have seen them in people's homesteads around this place but I don't bother because I know they are just like wild animals, and I will get some others.

You will get some others?
I will, as there are some already in the bush.

That was a bad incident.
It was a time like this evening when you had not dared stay in the house but out.
Section 5
Where were you staying with your family after you had been chased away during clashes?
We were putting up at Kamsinga.

Where in Kamsinga?
At school.

At school?
We used to stay down those sides and we could stealthily come and see how our property has been destroyed and somebody had to leave the place before he is seen by anyone.

You could come back?

How did you stay in Kamsinga?
We used to stay at our friend's place.

Was she providing you with food and other basic needs?
Yes.... Our friend gave us a big house to stay and we could buy food for ourselves.

According to your own feelings how do you see life these days?
Life is okay for us…

Was it good at the beginning and it has been ruined recently?

Therefore, how was life in the past?
The past life was a clean kind of life… Oh! We had everything that we wanted. Mothers like us could buy sugar, bread, oil and everything we needed without anyone help. Someone could sell her own milk on credit and get payment at the end of the month. Any visitor was accessible to either fresh or sour milk in plenty and each and everyone had to fight for herself.

How could you fight for yourself?
A woman could also have her own maize in the store.

Full, you said?
We could get all that we needed. Whenever we wanted meat, we could buy it in turns with my co-wife here. We could buy meat and eat it secretly in the kitchen without our husbands. We could even pretend to have extra work in the kitchen so that as we eat the meat our husband is unaware of it. Meat could be eaten in the open only when our husband has bought it. But, today, we are in darkness, as we have nothing to do. For sure, it is very true as the saying goes, "your own cattle will help you when in need but if you don't have it you will perish". When you are in need of your basic needs and....

If you keep depending on people?
If you depend on others you lack both life direction and strength. At the moment we have eight children in school but we have got no money. The little money we get from coffee also takes a long time to get paid. This has caused frequent absenteeism of our kids from school.
Section 6
Which life is good or better without clothes for one to wear?

How was farming before the coming of the recent clashes?
Hee eee! That iron-roofed store was for our husband and it was very full. My co-wife and I had our own maize stores, which were full too. We could get a total of twenty to twenty three sack of maize after selling and this was meant only for food. We have been caught up today since the farm that we use to plough is lying fallow.

Do you lack money for ploughing the land?
There is none. We had our own bulls but at the moment he has to hire a tractor to do the ploughing. We have another farm lying fallow over there, which we shall show you. Nevertheless we have tried to plough and plant despite the fact that the food is still scarce. We also had plenty of beans as we could harvest as many as thirty sacks per harvest. So you could pay us a visit. In those days we could give you as many kilograms as we wish to. We could give a whole gourd of milk to someone to take it to his own fill. During those days, the beans could fill this whole house and we could only remain with a small path for passing.

Full you say?
If you could go to my house during the harvest, there were so many sacks all over, we had to push all chairs against the wall. At the moment we have nothing at all, we are now ourselves. Even my children keep asking me if ever we shall attain our previous standard of planting and harvesting in plenty. It is God who knows when it will happen. But when these clashes were in the process, it would be better to be found when you were a poor person. But if you were rich my friend you could loose all your property.

Therefore for this rich person to attain his previous status is a very big pro…

I am also thinking of how I am going to recover or rather replace my stolen clothes as even the ones I am putting on don't fit me. I know it is a very big burden, but there is nothing I can do other than to sit back and look. I have tried to plant beans put in the process of growing up, they start withering and eventually drying up. I don't have maize even for sustenance.

Did you say that beans eventually dry up whenever you plant?
The beans do dry up and the harvest from maize is hardly enough and now everything is over.

What could be making the beans to dry up?
You know a farm is never good nor productive after people have shed blood and criss-crossed with spears in it. It is a bad omen.
Section 7
Were you planting only maize and beans before the clashes or were you also planting some other crops?
I also used to plant cassava apart from the maize and beans but the people who were against us up-rooted all my cassava from the farm.

Did they go with it?
They did. This Mummy here also had hers planted over there plus the sweet potatoes. But surprisingly, everything was carried away that could be visible in our compound. They also loosened all the part belonging to the water tap and took off with them. We repaired it recently when we came back.

I have seen coffee berries out there, do you plant it?
We removed it from our shamba.

Have you planted it?
What is that, have you not seen it yet?

Is it out there? Oh! I have now seen it.
That is the coffee plantation that we have. Can't you see my dirty hands, I have just come from there and this is the time I had wanted to wash utensils. The old man has also just come from an unknown source and he has come with nothing.

Don't you stay with the old man?
We do.

Where do you take your coffee after harvesting?
We normally take it to Kaptola.

Do you gain anything from the coffee after taking it to the factory?
Yes! The only problem is that the payment takes a very long time, they can never pay us now.

Does the payment take long?
Yes, but we are at times paid quickly and we manage paying school fees for one of our children.

Do you have children going to school?

In which classes do they attend?
There are four children in standard eight.

You mean four children in standard eight?
Yes, but there is no money. They have frequently been chased from school due to lack of fees and however much they cry and stay at home, we have no quick solution. Those small kids you have seen out there one of them is missing as she is gone to the maize mill. What they lack is school uniform. Can't you see the rags they are putting on?
Section 8
In your on view, what could be the cause of high school drop outs in Mount Elgon?
It is because these small kids have not begun attending school.

No, no, what could make them not continue with their education?
What else apart from lack of school fees. You cannot go as far as stealing as you will be beaten up.

What could be the other reason in other families and not only yours?
At times people do lack money as I also do since life has been hardened. Now, whose cattle will I take and sell or eat; yet my husband has not even a single one left. If we had cattle we could even see a calf and my co-wife could also sell one cattle and we could be able to educate our children.

Cattle did you say?
If we had cattle we could sell them so that we get money to educate our children but if you have none, can you sell you own head?

Or could you sell yourself in place of an animal. We just have to leave everything the way it is and sit back, since we cannot do anything without money. We cannot steal in order to compensate our needs. But if we had enough cattle as we had, we could be able to sell some with my co-wife and be able to cater for our children's fees. It could be a big share if at all I could steal that small bundle of maize and sell it and later my husband is informed about it. You could also term me as a thief. A woman like me....

If you compare your youthful life and the life the present youth are going through which one would you prefer?
During our youth, life was so good. It was never bad.

Why was your life back then better?
During our days, we didn’t have tribalism existing anywhere. This is just a recent happening, which came up and caused clashes. During that time Teso and Masaai could have come together and share a traditional beer that was brewed consecutively even during circumcision ceremonies of Ballche clan of Bukusu. They could make merry and they could borrow from each other whenever one is in need but these days, things have changed to the worse, as you cannot borrow even from your own brother and this has made life hard.

Therefore, you would wish to stay during your own youthful time other than these days of our youth.

I would also like to know the kind of celebrations you engaged in when you were young girls.
Section 9
Which celebrations did you carry out?
We had circumcision ceremonies and there after we could fit the new initiates with new clothes.

How were they fitting new clothes?

How was circumcision ceremony carried out?
There was singing…

How was it conducted from the beginning to the end...?
Once you want to be circumcised you are ready for the circumciser’s knife. Once a candidate is ready for the ceremony, she or he informs the shell and finally take it for grinding in the maize mill. The remaining part of the work is left to the candidate’s mother who is to brew the traditional beer ready for the ceremony. After the operation, a bull or cow is slaughtered for roasting and cooking while the beer is drunk by all who come to witness. The initiate to be is always very happy and he does so by dancing and jumping.

Does this only happen to boys?
It happens to all of them...even girls.

Even girls, you said?
Yes, then after circumcision, you are through with your work and the witnesses drink your beer and later give you some money for your own use.

What is the significance of circumcision as it is viewed by your people?
It is taken as a good practice since it involves dancing. Candidates are normally moved by the sweet dances performed by those who have undergone it and the manly courage they had and they also wish to undergo the same process quickly. The candidates could also go for circumcision by comparing themselves to their age mates. Circumcised girls and boys could be allowed to carry beer for the older people and people actually fought for circumcision. A candidate could insist until the parents gave him or her a go ahead to be operated.

What was the actual importance for circumcision?
People have been saying that it is important but the people who began this process know better.

Could you have been told or heard it from some other people about its importance?
It has been more of an oral narrative since every now and then people will wish and strive for circumcision. Circumcision is one of our traditions and we have to practice and sustain it. The practice has been taken as a must and whenever one does it, the other candidates will start longing for it until they are operated on.

Could you recall an incident whereby a single person refused to be circumcised?
There are so many people...
Section 10
How was it like?
There was a belief in the past that if one wasn't circumcised, he or she will not bear children.

Is that what used to happen?
We have witnessed some cases where by a woman who refused to be circumcised got married and she got no children. The moment the husband realised that she wasn't circumcised, she had to undergo the operation in order to solve their childless problem.

You mean she could be circumcised?

Did you ever witness a case whereby someone completely refused to be circumcised?
They forcefully circumcised them recently.

What did they do?
Women were forcefully circumcised, whether she had children or not. Even old mothers who were found out to be circumcised were operated on. Even Masaai Masarani’s mother do you know her?

Who is Masaai Masarani?
She was caught and circumcised.

Who is this Masaai Masarani?
She was also circumcised. The Sabaot are planning to forcefully circumcise more old people in the area during the circumcision of their youth. Even those who are brutal but uncircumcised will be circumcised.

Have there been cases whereby candidates fear being circumcised?
They could be forced to be circumcised. In fact recently, three people captured an uncircumcised man and the operated on him very late in the evening at Kapsokwony.

Did people capture him?
Yes, they took him to the river and later circumcised him. The Sabaot say that even if someone is a mother and however late it is, she has to be circumcised. Even those who don't practice it will be forced to do it during the coming circumcision. Surprisingly my brother was having a nice time with his wife in a bed and they came and took away the wife who was later on circumcised.

Taking his wife from the bed?
They circumcised her while the husband was just at home.

What did the husband do?
What could he do, other than keeping quiet. There was another man who was against them circumcising his own wife and was beaten badly until he was admitted in the hospital, while the wife proceeded to the operation that very day.
Section 11
What could happen to those who cried during the operation?
However loud one could cry, they had to finish the operation forcefully because every candidate had been yearning for that operation.

Could people accord him the same respect as those who underwent the process without any problem?
Yes, ... but there is no respect at all since you will have messed up everything. In case of a girl, the dad would even wish to burn her to death because the beer that was brewed would not be consumed, therefore wasted and the happiness, that was soon going to be there, vanishes.

Do you people also have the other significance to circumcision of making a girl attain a status of a woman who is now ready for marriage and vice versa?

How did circumcised people see those who had already been initiated?
A person who is circumcised is highly respected and seen as an old person even if he or she is your age mate. The uncircumcised is still seen as a child. They were not to joke around with them because the initiated people had undergone tough circumstances like staying in the cold overnight before being circumcised in the morning.

Therefore, the uncircumcised see you as an older person who can do some important things.

What important things are you referring to?
The moment one is circumcised, the parents give him some responsibilities as he is seen as a grown up. He could give solutions to solve differences between younger brothers and sisters. You can command him to do what you want like boiling milk. The moment the younger kid sister of brother neglects his or her duties he can discipline her by caning and the mother will not listen to your complaints, instead she will urge you to respect your elder brother or sister.

I would like to know how the marriage institution was conducted in the past, during your days?
Although I wasn't born by then I heard from people's stories of what used to happen whenever a boy noticed a girl in a certain homestead and he loved her dearly. He would put a request before his parents that he would wish to marry so and so's daughter. The boy’s parents would then plan and talk to the girl's parents and it was the girl’s parents’ duty to pass the message over to their girl if the girl liked the boy’s family.

Is there something that is brought from the boy’s family?
Yes! .... When the boy’s father comes to talk with the girl's parents, he normally comes with something small.
Section 12
What is this small thing?
Something like money or food which is brought into the house only when the girl has accepted the offer from the boy. Milk is an example of the food that could be bought. If the girl has refused the food is kept outside the house and later taken back since she is not willing to step in the boy’s compound. The moment the girl accepts the boy, bride wealth in form of cattle is paid with an immediate effect.

From the boys place?
Yes the cattle has to be brought before the girl goes to join them. Whereas nowadays a girl can pick a few clothes at around four o'clock and she gets married without her parents’ knowledge. The parents cannot tell whether their daughter has been married to a poor or rich man. Therefore, I feel the past life was much better because the moment you find yourself in a problem, your problem, your parents will be aware that he's the one who allowed her to get married in that homestead or he's the one who freely allowed her to get married there. But the present moment the parents don't even do as the past parents.

Was it like you have just said during your time or was it different?
It was different…hee!

When we turn to the amount of work done by men and women, who does more than the other?
It is mothers.

Please…do talk about it.
I could be washing up to this moment while someone is just relaxing on a chair and doing nothing. In fact, Mummy, I could be washing those utensils. Once we wake up, we have so much to be done until evening yet he has just come from those sides and he is now just seated on a chair wanting to eat. Look, I am just from the coffee plantation and he is soon coming for ugali (type of food) which is not ready. He keeps moving from place to place claiming that he is inspecting something in his farm and yet here you are struggling with children with all the petty household chores. Therefore morans (men) don't have a lot of work. They have very little to be done. We appreciate them because of the protection they offer us in so many matters but the rest of the work is left to us.

Does it mean that you don't have time to rest?
None but on Saturdays and Sundays when we have these little children to help us with some work. Unlike the morans who only leave and come back in the evening and we have nothing to do with them. We only get a chance when these small ones have come although they at times make nothing constructive so you have to keep shouting at them. They sometimes take care of our babies the whole day and this is not a heavy job. All in all we still have to suffer. The coffee we have just picked will again be picked tomorrow with the problematic children who, when you decide to work, will suddenly start to have diarrhoea and vomit.
Section 13
Could you please brief us on the kind of problems mother encounter in their daily life?
The problem is the household chores, which is actually not a joke.

It is so much?
Yet somebody needs food the moment he comes in the house.

Do these men spend their whole day sitting or can they do some useful work?
Even if they have some work it is very little as compared to what mothers do. A man can do a few things here and there and he goes his own way.

Where could he be going to then?
He walks around hee hee! If you think he doesn't, where is he from then? I just heard that he left and when evening comes he is back as you have seen him return. He comes to mock us, when we are in the coffee plantation, on what we have been doing since morning. That is why you have just found him sitting and doing nothing. He has just come, just a few hours ago, to check on us when we were just winding up. Which kind of work has he done when he just comes home to rest? Immediately after the cock crows he is already alert for his morning journey. He opens the door and disappears.

What kind of job is more than that?

Could he be taking beer or any other job when he is gone to visit friends?
He doesn't take beer; what he does is to go to wherever his mind has directed him to just sit. I even wonder if he cleans his eyes by the road as he wakes up very early. The moment he has decided to stick at home, he will wake up and do nothing the whole day.

Could he help in doing some farm work?
Haa haa! So long as the farm is ploughed he has got nothing more to do as the rest of the work like planting and weeding is left to us. You see him seated there to be our watchman and then sleep at last

After harvest, do you also have a say on how to use the products like selling to get money?
Yes! Yes in the past before the clashes left that aside, we could do anything without time being bothered. This applies also to milk.

You said you could do anything?
We could sell milk on credit, and the moment the agreed time had come, and one has brought the money, they could give the cash to him (the husband) in case they don’t find me, and he would give it to me without daring to deduct half of the total sum. He will give you all the money. If the person brings the money to you when the old man is around, that is the only time he will ask for some cash, otherwise, he can never keep back what is yours. We could sell our own beans as he also goes ahead and sells his and not be malicious of our money.
Section 14
Has it changed now?
There is nothing at the moment, and when we look around we are all on the same level with our husband since no one can say that he or she has money. But if you have your own wealth, you cannot lack a shilling. At the moment we have got completely nothing.

Does it mean that you can't use your own powers and choose what you want to do now?
Firstly you know…

After harvesting a lot of food, could you allocate them their various uses or was it all left to your husband?
Considering maize, he had his own maize in the iron-roofed store you see out there, and my co-wife and I had our own three stores full of maize. We could even sell our own maize and he had no say over it. This was mainly his goodness, which does not go beyond this. At this time, we have got no maize to either harvest or sell. The moment someone gives you some maize you can never think of selling it while your children need to eat…nothing…he!

What problems do you mothers encounter concerning hospitals?
We don't have any problem.

What of when the children are sick?
We don't have problems apart from lack of money which is not there.

Are the hospitals near or far away from here?
There is a hospital at Kapsokwony, but money is a major problem.

What about the roads?
We have roads but we normally foot across that hill.

Oh! you just climb ...... supposedly near.
What about water problem?
Drinking water?

Do you have water or not?
We have our own water.

Therefore, you don't have any water problem?
We don't have any water problem, but our children lack school uniforms…which is bad. The problems our children undergo are lack of school fees which is also a problem to me as every cent is over.

On the side of division of labour ... is it similar to the past whereby girls were supposed to carry out certain duties, the boys others, and men and women others?

Section 15
How can you compare it of the past and the present life? The duties include household chores, building a house, washing utensils, fetching water and looking after animals. How was it carried out during your days?
It was a good thing because one could wonder about and play ... but lets put it this way. Boys were looking after cattle while girls were to do all kitchen duties like washing utensils, sweeping the house, picking vegetables and looking for where they are to be found. But boys were looking after cattle and they would help each other. That is what was there.

Do you by any chance belong to any merry-go-rounds, where people contribute money and eventually purchase something for one person and it goes all round?
No! ... We have just heard about it. Those who join must see themselves fit in terms of money but for us who are putting on rags ... ha! hee! It is a shame.

Are there particular kind of people who are chosen to join the merry go round?
No! ... It is a personal decision. But maintaining a house is a problem as there is no salt, and yet they expect you to raise either two or five hundred even six hundred and yet you cannot afford salt in house.

Will you be able to get that money?
Aaa! Aaa! There is nothing of the sort when you have no cent.

In case you planted vegetables and other crops could you find a market place with a high pay or return?
You can find Kapsokwony to be a favourable selling place.

Is there a good price for one to sell commodities?
Just leave it at that ... the selling is actually good when whatever you are selling is not in plenty since the price is reduced due to low demand. You can sometimes go back home with them or sell at a low price. There is so much sukuma these sides and these ups and downs are common occurrences at the market places.

Do people get any problem in transporting their goods from where they stay to the market place?
Those who trade know better since we just try to survive and we normally go to the nearest market.

You have said that going to the market place is easy, is there any other problem one may encounter on the way?
We don't go very far as our markets are Kamtang and Kapsokwony and I have not heard of any problem encountered?

Don't people fear going up Mount Elgon?
Nowadays, people frequent the place and they go as far as Kibisi. At the very beginning it was not as good as it is now.

Why was it bad then?
We were told that young men used to chase away those of us who stay down here (at the slopes).
Section 16
Young men?
It has been so until the government came to give us security. This has enabled people to move freely in the place and only leave when it is the evening.

Didn't people fear the probable presence of wild animals?
Aah! Aah! Wild animal are found as far as Kaperua…

Hmmm…that is the most dangerous place where tea leaves are grown. While we stay down here in the slopes.

Don't people fear up there?
It is very far…very much up where people don't stay. These animals stay as far as Kaperua unlike most of us who stay below here.

Can people wish to stay there?
There are houses, which are occupied by people, and those who had been used to staying in that place are always wishing to go back.

We have read and heard about people complaining that Mount Elgon is under developed, as it is still dragging behind. In your own view what do you think might be the cause?

Here where you stay?
Tribalism and no development. You know that when people intermingle, development comes as a result of different people bringing new technology for development. The problem now is one tribe, as they only have low cost food crops, and this has led to deterioration of life and development.

Could there be anything else that may cause under-development?
Oh! it is just tribalism that has brought all these bad things.

What could you urge the government to do in order to develop?
Beat them. They should beat up those who practice tribalism to cool them down, although they can't be reconciled even after leaving their mischievous behaviour. This could uplift us, if these men who are planning to cause chaos again are beaten. In addition, our district is underdeveloped and it has no experience, therefore they cannot see ahead.

What is it that they have not seen ahead?
There is not much movement of merry-go-rounds in Mount Elgon which you had mentioned earlier.

Do you mean the women's merry-go-rounds where women come together?
Yes, it is not all that practised.
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What could you request the government to assist you with when it comes to agriculture, crops or the roads?
We need the roads you have just talked about. Our roads are of last class as there are so many pot holes, which may make the movement of vehicles hard. Our bridges are in a bad condition, yet the places where they are situated are even worst.

What do you say about hospitals? What could be done for you in order for them to develop?
What can I say concerning the hospital? At times when people do talk, they view the government as the people leading to their collapse. Therefore we have to shut our mouths.

What size of family do you mothers wish to have?
For children?

Yeah…for children.
The children I have are already enough for me since life is very hard with the present life.

Therefore, you don't need a big family?

Why is it so?
It is a big burden, and I will never be able to support it.

Have you ever heard of the family planning programme? This was being advocated by the people who worked in the hospital?
That one! I also managed to plan mine on my own.

So long as I keep away from the old man (husband).

What I am asking is, did you ever hear about it?
Yeah! We have just heard about it.

Did you ever use any of the modern methods of family planning?
No! No! It is not always a good thing to cheat.

How did you manage to space your children?
I spaced them very well.

How can you just space them? Could you please explain it to me as I am not informed about it.
Now, if I know that I don't need a man, should you forcefully cling on me?

The moment someone wants to cling on me, the best thing to do is to migrate to another place.
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How did you actually space your children from your first born to you last born?
Aha! You cannot give birth consecutively. The moment you give birth to your first born you come to know of the easy and hard ova to be fertilised. The ova cannot be easily fertilised if it is a girl. The spacing, you have seen those kinds at this Mummy's place, there no more younger kid. Unless the baby has grown big no more is born and this is in the ignorance of the old man. But there are some people who keep on giving birth every now and then. This is a type whose cycle (menstrual) is short but for us who have long menstrual cycles, will only get another baby when the first kid is big enough.

That is when you plan to another one?
People don't prefer women who take a long time before they get another child and people will not wish to marry from such a home. I do not comply with such people because it is God who plans and not man. I could stay for long before getting another child.

How do you feel about the modern methods of family planning like the use of injections and tablets?
It is found fit for those who can manage it, but we have never gone for it. We have heard several complaints from those who use them, like backaches, leg pains, lack of enough strength…hee! hee!…At times one over bleeds. What we know, is that the modern family planning methods are the major causes of diseases.

Is that what has made you have a negative attitude towards it?
Yes! That brings some more disease. I personally spaced my children so well that I had no case where the children could be closely spaced…Oh, I was like the hardy kind of animal, and I could not give birth frequently.

Hmmm…Were you delivering your babies here at home or in the hospital?
Here at home.

Did you get any assistance from a traditional birth attendant or you could do it yourselves?
We delivered alone without their help.

Therefore, you could help each other?
Of course yes! What else could we do other than holding the child during delivery?

Therefore, there was no need of going to the hospital .....
There wasn't and we managed to deliver all our children.

Didn't you encounter some problems?

We could deliver our babies peacefully and feed them on milk that was plenty. We could in turn feed well and we looked very healthy. Even if the hospital is termed as clean, I know there are some things they do clumsily and carelessly.
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Okay. To wind up I would like to hear your views on who could be educated and who could not between girls and boys in the past days.
In the past?

People only educated boys.

Why did they not educate girls as well?
Girls! .... Some people thought that educating a girl is a waste of money because you could never gain at the end.

Giving back?
They prefer educating boys because in the future they would bring development in the homesteads, while a girl will get married and forget all about the parents. This still happens to some people.

You mean up to these days?
Yes, why not ......

Do you also believe it to be like that?
The person who introduced such issues had a mental problem.

This is so because once my children have attained a recommendable age to attend school, it is my responsibility to educate all of them. This is because the girl might be the luckiest of all unlike the men. In a situation like this one we are in, a girl could now chip in and uplift us. An educated girl will always remember when her parents are in problems.

In your view, what should a girl and a boy do in order for him to be termed as a woman or a man?
For a girl, she should be able to purchase something big for her parents, that will surprise whoever sees it and those who have married to imitate her. When it comes to a man, he should be ale to buy a piece of land, cattle and put up very nice houses to make people happy.

The moment a girl is married, what duties is she supposed to carry out so as to be viewed as women?
Do you mean her place?

Yes, when she is married…
She should first of all have respect for her husband, her father and mother-in-laws, elders and on addition you should be able to carry out all duties in the homestead. After all these have been done, people will respect you as a good woman, as you are able to give respect even to visitors.
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Do you also believe like that?
Yes, that is what should be.