Kenya glossary










Retired headmistress




18 November 1996



Section 1
OK. We are in Kapsokwony. It is the 18th of November 1996. Maybe you can tell me your name.
My name is Beatrice Cherotich Chepkurui.

OK. Thank you very much for accepting to do the interview. Now were sharing with…so much on the effects of the clashes on...on people who left the rural areas and went down to the city. What were...what were some of the things that have happened?
There are many things that have happened to families that left rural areas to go to the towns. is on the women and the children - those were the most adversely affected people. With the children, they were not used to the town life. They...they sort of saw everything and got excited with it. They were hungry because they remained there - with no money - so the children tended to begin being thieves. They would go to someone's house and open and take the food just as in the rural area.

They - in the rural areas - the neighbour's children, if they are hungry and they know there is food in that house, will go and take. So they took the same character to the town and those children have...become so bad that they can enter in people's houses in town and eat that food...or take away something... so we term that as stealing which is not good.
The mothers…there are mothers that had never used the town facilities for cooking. It's difficult for them to use a jiko (stove), especially if they were over the age of fifty...forty. Eh, the fact that charcoal is bought is not in them. Economy is...economising the charcoal is not in them.

So they put almost everything on the fire and they don't time or make a timetable on how to cook. So they put vegetables on the fire in the morning and then that fire is wasted up to twelve o'clock.

So there...they did not know how to time their cooking and that became wastage. Economy went down, they work a short time, they run out of charcoal, then run out of food, they run short of everything and they become frustrated...more frustrated.

Now, when they go to towns like this, where do they usually live?
They go and hire houses in town or rent houses in town...small rooms…where they can afford.
Section 2
They were not used to that at all...A small house for a woman who had big house, two bedrooms, sitting room and a kitchen outside...that helped arrangement...she knew where to put a table...dining table. She knew where to hide a...some of her other utensils that she didn't want. She had a store outside...Arrangement in that small house was not in her at all.

And that awkward arrangement - the children were also living in there - and that sent away the husband, because he could not get access to his wife. The husband or husbands, most of them left their families and went to live elsewhere on their own.

Like say, where would they go to live now?
Well, they will be able to be hidden by single women in town. They will go and hide there because there is enough space there - no children in that house - and they are also modern, their beds are clean so...

A man would often prefer to stay where he is comfortable, he can put his head down and sleep soundly.

Eh. What does...maybe the women actually feel about the clashes? Do you think the women felt differently about the clashes than the men did, or do you think they felt about the clashes the same way?
All the women were disappointed. What did we gain out of it? Because women have no work, women's daughters are married in other tribes. We are also married...our sons have also married from other we have the daughters of other tribes. And as a mother, surely when you have somebody's daughter, it doesn't matter from where. Yours is also in another tribe so eh...we feel hurt as parents from both sides. We are hurt as women because we gain nothing. As we believe, women have no boundaries, we have no tribal boundaries. So long as a woman is married and happy it doesn't matter long as you are happy in your house.

And it's true in this area there is a lot of intermarriage…
And we welcome it. I personally welcome intermarriage because eh...most of our sons who are married from outside married educated wives or women from other tribes that went to school. So they have brought us that education in the house.

It's our community that has benefited.

OK. That's do you ...maybe...OK, like you personally see maybe education as an asset in a wife that maybe your son can marry. Do it always the case...or has it been the case ever since maybe this kind of western education began? Or...or is it it something maybe new? Is it a new way maybe of looking at things, or has it always been the view that an educated woman is an asset?
That has always been the view that an educated woman is a wonderful asset in the community. One is that, if she is a teacher, she will not teach her own children, she will teach the children of that community. Eh, she will do other things within the community. Like she can be a treasurer in our church. She can be a secretary of a youth group and can take those leadership roles...When will be very...
Section 3
Also we have the belief that, eh…ukisomesha msichana ni kusomesha taifa (if you educate a girl, you educate a nation). The children she will bear are the children of that community. And the mother being educated, we expect that she will educate her own children.

There is a difference...a big difference between the children of educated mothers and uneducated mothers.

OK. What kind of difference do you see?
I see that...the difference is...the educated mother would prepare her children early enough to go to school...early means in the morning. Let's say by seven the children already to go to school because the mother knows time. While in the other home, that the mother did not go to school, she would not prepare the child time...get her pencil, get her, clean the child and so on. They would send the child early enough but not well prepared.

Then the children are not even clean when they come to school. case there are that, are the kind of solution that is taken? Will it be the school or...?
Well, as a teacher...well I taught in a primary school long time ago, and later on I taught in secondary school. In the primary school…well the child comes to school every day on time, but pen, no book, bag to carry his or her belongings. We sent for the mother to school, and then we explain to her why we want the child to come to school, clean and with a pencil. That is preparing the child now for...ready for school. If you went there without a pen or a pencil or no book, then the child is coming to school without an aim.

First the child is disappointed because he...maybe he is hungry, he is being pushed to school without pen, without being having been taught why you're going to school nicely with good words.

Yeah, that child cannot learn well. So we call the mother, explain to her, and also thank her for sending the child very early. Well, you should not tell her mistakes all through. You also tell her that you think, "You're a wonderful lady. You wake up very early, your child comes the earliest so you have only small mistakes. That you don't give a pen, a book and a bag to carry his belongings, and also we do not want the child to be laughed at by the others. Clean him or her."
Section 4
OK. OK. That is a good way of dealing with a situation. Now just to get maybe back into the past a little bit...let' were people educated in the traditional setting? How were you prepared for life because I guess maybe education is a way of preparing somebody for life somehow. How were young people prepared for life?
In the Sabaot community?

Yes, in the Sabaot community.
Every community has its own way of preparing their youth to face the challenges of life. Eh…for the Sabaot community, from the first day the child is born, the...there are signs given to show the men what kind of child has been born...Is it a girl or a boy? So they will ask in our language "boko ndo kosan".

Eh. Which means?
Boko means daughter, kosan means a man. Now sang means outside, kop means inside. Now kosang is a man because men stay outside most of the time.

And if it is bokop, it is a daughter who is in the kitchen or the house with the mother all the time or most of the time.

Then after that has been established, eh…the mother is also taken care of, after giving birth...As the child grows, eh...when he is a boy of let's say five years and over, he is sent out most of the time to the father, not to be inside the house. As they get to ten years, they are taught how to look after the goats, sheep or cows so...they should start knowing the roles of a man.

So...looking after cows was one of the roles...Eh, looking after cows, was one of the roles and to build a house. For the Sabaot, a young man should know how to build a house.

So, those are the roles that the boy is given to know. For the girl it is important that she knows how to milk a cow from the earliest age possible.

Let's say ten years. Like our daughter, she knows how to milk - that small girl.

Section 5
It's OK.
So every girl should know how to milk a cow, she should know how to wax the gourds, she should be able to keep good milk. That is so that...she is not reprimanded by the men, by the brothers, or anybody given that milk.

OK. Na sasa kama (and if). This milk, why is it so important? The milk.
It was almost the staple food of this community. They and milk drinking is like the Luo and fish. So the milk is their principal food. So, those are the roles of a lady. Know how to keep your house clean, to make that milk, and so on. Another form of education that they will be prepared, is girls were taught to keep themselves separate from men or boys, and this was mainly done by the grandmother. So there was the grandmother school, eh, at the age of ten and above the girls will be sleeping with their grandmother. So that's where the school was.

OK. what kind of things were they taught? Or what kind of things were you taught? I will be switching between Kiswahili and English also by the way.
That I hope I am not confusing...

No, get yourself comfortable. You know there are things you express yourself better in Kiswahili.
But since I was a teacher, I am able to communicate in school languages.
Yeah...actually you know, I am not saying you can't actually...I am just saying there are just the...Things were mainly taught...Eh, of course my grandmother was a very strict virginity...she stressed that you should never lose it before you get married. The reasons were that during circumcision, eh...they would laugh at you that you are not a virgin. Of course you would be ashamed.

Oh, so during circumcision they will also open you?

So had to keep yourself, as a virgin. And then…eh, you should not elope.

The husband who... the husband to-be has to come home, and you... they have to show themselves who they are.

And probably pay a dowry. And then she also stressed that you should look for a man who has cows, so that those cows can come to your home.

And the traditionalists also wanted if the two families...or the families that wanted to marry you, eh, if they have any grudge against your home…if there is, you are discouraged very early before you...any advancements are made.

You are also told this clan is not good. Intermarrying with that clan is not good. We don't intermarry with that one.
Section 6
So what will make a bad clan and a good clan?
Eh. There is no bad clan and good clan, a bad clan is a clan that has a long bad history of killing other people, those who don't pay dowry for other people's daughters.

Eh, let's say thieves. If they produce thieves from that clan - so many thieves.

Eh...what do they call...the people watu wa haramu, those who take other people's property.

Oh. OK.
Those are the people...bad omens. Some clans are believed to have bad omens. Like their sons...sons of their daughters do not last long. They don't stay until they can see their own grandchildren. So that's not a good clan.

So that was the education that you were getting as a girl - to fit you into marriage - to prepare you in that direction?

Now for you, when you went into...when you went into formal schooling, did that disrupt that process for you at all, or the two, they will just co-exist?
The two traditions - the school and ordinary Sabaot tradition - didn't interfere [with each other] except during...after circumcision. They want you to stay in the house for long - let's say one month or two months until schools open.

That's where we disagreed with my parents.

OK. So the parents will want you maybe to...
To continue staying and just eating and growing fat.

And beautiful. Ready for marriage. You know after circumcision you are supposed to be married off. Which I personally did not want to. So I cut them short.

OK. Now how were the did you convince your parents to allow you to continue with your schooling? Maybe you can just tell me a bit of history of your schooling and...
The school...the earliest school that came to Mount Elgon, one of the earliest ones in our area that is called Chemisem was a school called Kimoy Primary School. Eh, 1995, I went to school. Eh, there was no formal teaching but were just singing and being shown, A,E,I,O,U - the vowels and the alphabets. And that you will be taught for a year.

So that year went and a lot of football playing and netball I was still very small at that time so that ended by 19...1955 ended. 1956 were brought other teachers from Chepay mission, the SDA. So those were very good...young men who taught us quite a lot. But then they only taught mathematics and what, music.
Section 7
So we sung the whole of 1956. 1957, I was now in class three and what did we do that year...That year I think we learned some English and how to read and write. Eh...the same to Kiswahili. Those two languages were taught for that year. That was class three. So the whole year...ended on...two...two subjects.

Two subjects.
Kiswahili and English. In 1959, eh, we learned now most of the subjects. That's mathematics, Kiswahili and English. Then we wrote what they call Common Entrance...So that one I passed to go to a school called Chewayi because the school, the Chemuk school was an SDA school.

OK…here in Mount Elgon.
Yeah, yeah in Mount Elgon. Chewayi is in Kabras - the present Kivayi, Now my parents did not concede to the idea that I had to leave the home. They refused that I was a bit too young to go away.

So I had to repeat. Now they could not allow me to go to the other school. Kimoth primary. My father refused, because the surrounding area were not going to school.

Most of age-mates had now started refusing to go. Eh, they had refused to go to school. Then came a fashion of the gramophone and the guitar.

OK. The gramophone and the guitar?
And the guitar. And there was a famous one called Tiangasi. Wah! Nobody would go to school the whole of December up to January. They will just pick any day and call it a Christmas day. In January people...yeah! They would go the whole night. Tomorrow nobody in the classroom. The teacher is there but there is nobody. They are asleep because they danced the whole night.

So my father when he sees that, he said there is no schooling here. So he transferred us to Kapsokwony Primary.

So I had to repeat stand...standard four. I was taken back to standard three now because nobody would take me in standard four since it was an examination class. So I went back.

For two years?
Another two years. So eeh, 1960 ended, 61 ended, in Standard four. Sixty-one they now removed that examination...

So I just continued the normal schooling.
Section 8
After those two years? All those two years?
Yeah! Now my coming to Kapsokwony really opened my thinking because I...Kapsokwony was now the Headquarters of them chief I could see many different things. And during that time that I had come to Kapsokwony the Governor was coming to Kapsokwony. And I had the opportunity of singing the National Anthem for England that time.

This other one [begins singing]. God Save Our Gracious Queen [stops]

So the governor at that time is?
Sir Evelyn Baring.

Oh yeah. OK.
So he came and we sung for him. Now that opens you up. There was small civilisation in Kapsokwony where I had come from.

So I also saw beautiful dressed women who came on that particular day.

Africans or...?
Some Africans. Some were wazungus (whites) and they were mixing. Yet we were being told that there was no mixing with Europeans. But because those girls were educated, they mixed with Europeans. So we were inspired although we didn't know who they were. Eh...So we continued eh, education in Kapsokwony. Many activities took place in Kapsokwony and we were seeing that...the chief's one time when the governor comes they...Commissioner, The DC (District Commissioner) that time, the DC was called the commissioner. So when he comes around, he would be brought to our school, and we would sing for them, and they will tell us the importance of education.

Eh, one time he addressed us and said: "You young children, read hard, work hard in school. Get educated. Because see me here, I am a white man, but that I am leading you because of education. I've come all the way from my country because of education. My parents educated me. I would like you one day that you rule your own country. But you can't do it if you're nor educated." So they inspired us. Eh, we continued. We got a good teacher called William Nyongesa. He is still alive and he also plays the accordion for us, he was a Christian. Eh, we learned some marching, like drilling like soldiers, and we would march march march. That made Kapsokwony so wonderful a school.

So that also...attracted me to education . Eh, that same year he also taught us what Christianity is in detail and then we went to the first class of the Quakers - he was a Quaker.

Then I was baptised that year in Primary and we continued. 1963, another one came called Sillas Wanjala, and when he came to teach us, he came with his wife who is also a teacher.
Section 9
And that lady was from Uganda. She had married somebody called Wanjala. That's our teacher now.

She really inspired us. She used to talk to us in her house in the evening. Before we go home she tells us: "don't go to those dances. Don't do this."

So she was like a mentor somehow?
Yes, we followed her advice. We became very good girls, hardworking, eh.

In the middle of all his, how did you convince your parents to continue…to continue with your education?
You know it was not a lot of money by then. We were paying twenty-three shillings per year.

OK didn't matter to them because it...that little money will be found. My father was still working as court messenger, so he could still get that money. Now it is standard eight that my mother did not want me to go to she had actually recommended to my father that I should not continue, because I was big and "she [the narrator] should just get married and bring the cows here. Not to spend again whatever we have." So when I...I heard my mother say that to my father, I was outside. So, I didn't show her that I had heard. I didn't even show my father. I waited until my father was alone in my other mother's house.

After lunch he - father - would always take a nap in my other mother's house because there were no small children there like me. So one day, I - a week after my mother had recommended me not to go to school - I went to my father and woke him up. And he was surprised why I had woken him up. I told him: "it is me my father." I told him, "I have come. I want to talk to you." He said, "Oh. What is it?" I told him, "The other night I heard mother does not want me to continue with the school. She has all the recommendations. I don't agree with those recommendations but maybe you're afraid that I may be...just misuse your money and not continue with school. I want to show you and explain to you that I am not going to waste your money. I will go to school until I finish. Until I...I am a teacher or any other profession that will be there. So I will not let you down." father woke up and said, "eh, are you sure?" I said, "father, I will not let you down I promise. I am named after his grandmother."

He said, "No child has ever told me that. Since you are the first, I will listen to you. You know that big bull? I will sell it tomorrow and you go to school."
Section 10
How did that make you feel?
I was very happy that my father had listened to me. I wrote my CPE exams. I passed. My father sold the big bull and we went together on foot from Chemset here to Lugulu Girls.

That is a distance...
Yeah. My father carried the books - he had actually given me his old box. We didn't buy a new one.

I think there were no places to buy them, because I never saw any shop where the boxes were in it. But he gave me his wooden box because he had been travelling all over Africa. He was able to buy, maybe in Kampala or where I don't know.

So he gave me that box. Put it on my head down to Lugulu. We woke up at 4 am in the morning. By ten thirty we were in Lugulu.

Did he...during that journey what did you talk about or...?
Eh. He was telling me this place is called Kipkiria town here. We would go again, then we get to another market, and he would say this is called Magon. We would then, he says, this one is called Martini. We would continue like that and he is telling me this place...

Then say I knew somebody here. I knew somebody here called so and so.

OK. That's very interesting. Now when you compare maybe what do you see as...actually I interrupted. You were saying now you went to high school, secondary school and then after that you...?
I went to Lugulu Girls secondary school. After that, eh, we were two in our home. My brother, whom I follow, and myself. We passed the exam at the same time.

OK., we both reached form four...

So your mother had two children?
Yeah, in secondary.

Oh yeah, in secondary. OK.
That we are ten in our after form four, my brother opted to go to form five and six in Kamusinga.

Now I had done so well, that then my headmistress recommended that I go for the S1 course.

OK. Which is teaching...
Which is a teaching profession. So I went to Nairobi in Kenyatta. I trained there for three good years.
Section 11
Would you...what would you have preferred to do? Would you have preferred to go to form five and six or did you prefer to go to S1?
I preferred to go S1 because at that time, form five and six for girls was either Eldoret - Moi Girls, Eldoret and Nairobi which I did not really want. I wanted to be a teacher very quickly.

Why did you want to be a teacher?
It was just in my heart that I have to be a teacher.

I was still needed in my community, to teach so eh...and my headmistress Salome Norega had actually recommended that to me. I felt...

OK. She is a famous name actually.

Very much even in our area you hear her a lot.
And she actually took me herself personally. I had applied for it during the career time. She just told me, "Beatrice, I would like you to take this S1 course immediately. You are more needed than anybody else." Maybe because she had eh...I was her headgirl that particular time. So she said, "You can continue from there if you wish, but I would like you to take this course." That time that course was very good. So I took the course and finished it.
After I finished, I was posted to Kibuk where I taught for three years. Then I went to Kaptama. I was transferred to Kaptama. So I also taught there for two years. After those two years, I went on a maternity leave for a third child. I was called, and appointed to be headmistress of Kibuk Girls. So on that appointment I had written exams again. I felt I was idle. I had written exams on A-level history and English and also passed them. So after some time I applied for ATS - Approved Teacher Status equal to 200 a year. I got it again and then continued. Then I became again APS 3 and later on APS 2 of which I still hold now.

OK. You have really accomplished a lot in your life. Now are there many...were there many Sabaot girls at the time you were growing up who went on with their education?
We were many at the low levels - that is Standard 4,5,6. In 7, they started dropping out.

OK. Why is that?
A lot of them got pregnant and so they dropped [out]. [For] others it is this circumcision issue. Once they were circumcised they felt they were women ready to be married and so they got married. did you also went through the circumcision. I think you said earlier. Were you ever afraid that if you were circumcised, and you continued with your school, and you weren't married, that maybe you would never get married?
No. I had a very big force that I would get a better husband if I went to school. I continued with my education. Well, old men proposed. But I refused all, including the chief.
Section 12
Yes, and why did you refuse them?
Some were old men already married, and my mother was never for that. Whenever she could see them, she would not comment at the moment. At that time. But then she would wait. When they have gone she would tell me, "My daughter, never be a second wife."

And why would she say that?
She was a second wife herself and she knows what it is to be in a polygamous home. Eh...some were old people so she was telling me, "How will you agree with this old man? They will bother you for nothing. Never ever try." So my mother discouraged me and saved me from a lot of these chief issues.

OK. So she wanted you maybe to get married, but not to get married to those ones?

OK. That's nice. And when you look at maybe, at the trend of education in the district ever since you were growing up, what kind of changes do you see?
In what ways?

Maybe, has the kind of education changed, have the kind of values that are instilled in people changed? Has the way of teaching changed?
Eh, let's say after I finished college, the value of education was still high. And especially when I was posted as headmistress in Kibuk Girls. You know, I come from this community. I was born here, I was educated here, they were all seeing me, and they saw me grow up to that level of a headmistress. That had a lot of impact on many people.

What kind of an impact?
They felt that I as more useful in the community, because many of those who trained with me, did not want to come and teach in his area at the time. Many people did not want to come back home.

Why? Why is that?
I don't know really. But I personally wanted to. But others did not want to come, because they thought maybe they will be bothered by relatives, and other people believe others bewitch and so on. When you are sort of...well off so...

Did you also feel...Did you even maybe ...was a concern to you, maybe relatives or witchcraft?
Never. I welcomed all relatives. The one who makes a mistake I will reprimand because it was the truth. So I stood by the truth and.…Also my father really told people that it is good to educate a girl. She will always help you when you are in problems, but a boy will not. So that spread amongst people in my village. I also did quite a bit of counselling on education to the girls and their parents. I encouraged many parents to educate their daughters. I was giving them myself as an example.
There is nothing impossible even if were...underwent the circumcision. You can still continue with school. It doesn't hamper anything. A good husband can wait. A good husband will always wait for you. long as he is committed, he will one day marry you. So I encouraged lot of girls. Now, eh...I guided the parents to pay (school) fees at equal time both for girls and boys.
Section 13
Well, what were you finding was happening?
Oh, there was a lot of bias. If for example, a boy and a girl did CPE (Certificate of Primary Education) and both passed, they would pay for the boy. If there is no money in the home, they will struggle for the boy to go to form 1, and tell the girl, "You wait for another year." Now in the course of the girl waiting, she would get pregnant easily and then that is the end of her. Then the boy would continue. So I felt that is very unfair to the girl. So I used to encourage them to educate the girl equally as the boy.

In what other ways did you feel maybe that girls were treated differently from the boy? And have you seen changes in these areas over time?
There are quite a lot of changes, because many of those I encouraged - their parents we had a dialogue just as we are talking now. We...I had to argue it out and make them understand. Many of them have come back to tell me, "Thank you Beatrice. You told me something and I did that thing. I educated my daughter. You helped me educate my daughter, so I'm so grateful. She is a teacher. She is now helping me."
So many of those parents actually are good, and we are good friends. We established a relationship. I'm still very very attached to them and even the girls. As you go round, do ask those teachers you meet in schools - the female teachers. Ask them, "which school did you go madam?" 50% will tell you, "I went to Kibuk. My father was so and so and headmistress was so and so." So that is another research and homework I am giving you.

That is a good record to leave behind a legacy....
A legacy really. So between 1978 and 1994, a lot of girls of Mount Elgon went to school. I even sacrificed to pay fees for some of them, just because I knew if I send them home, they will never come back or they will never go back to school.

OK. And were there many headmistresses in this area from Mount Elgon?

You were the only...
I was the only headmistress from Mount Elgon at that particular time.

And now what...what role did the church play when the church came, and what role did they play in the education system in this area?
Churches came. Many churches have come. I cannot remember many years... the years that each church came. Oh...but I remember the SDA because that one I was directly involved in my village. That is Chemoge. That's the one I...
Section 14
That is the village you were born.

Was that also the village you were married into?
Oh no. I got married [in] Kaptama. So the SDA was in Chemogie. The first time I even heard of it, was 1944. So when I went to that school, it had already been there. The Friends Church came down to Chesamis in 1944, also sort of in 194...between 1940 and '43. That's when it came to Chesamis and Kaptama.
And so they were…the schools that began…actually the first schools here, were church schools. Yeah. These were church schools.

Were there any independent schools that were began that were non-church schools, or were all the...or were all the schools associated to a church?
At that particular time…that most schools…all the schools were associated to the church, because we had Chesamis Secondary School was attached to the Friends; Kaptama was attached to the Friends. Kaptalili was attached to the Catholics. Kapsokwony was attached to SDA. Kibuk was a catholic, Kaptalele Kimotho was attached to the Friends.

OK. So was it the missionaries who would come to do the teaching or was it, I guess the white missionaries...Is it the white missionaries who came into the area to teach, or to evangelise?
No. They were the African missionaries, that is, those who had been taught by the white missionaries. The offsprings now, were the ones sent to Mount Elgon.

OK. And what was the view of the people of African missionaries as opposed to white missionaries?
The...those in Kaptama and the Chemwok - actually they did a good job at the beginning. That's when other tribes came - that's the Bukusu missionaries. They did not do the job. They came and became settlers, they bought land and became settlers and forgot about church issues.

OK. So felt they...they came and they bought land, that now did not concentrate on the church any more?
They did not concentrate on the church.

And what about on the school?
Neither did they...except those who were posted later on as trained teachers from the government Ministry of Education.

OK. Alright. OK. So, these African missionaries, were they...were they Bukusu or were they, were they other tribes, or what other tribes were they?
We had Bukusu, we had Maragoli, eh I think those are the two main tribes that came as missionaries.

OK. And do you feel that…that they were instrumental maybe the education, the education of the Sabaot in terms of moving in to the formal education system, or how were they viewed by the Sabaot? Were they accepted as foreigners or were they resented because they were foreigners or...?
As missionaries, African missionaries were not resented. Because they would not be given the property they have. They were acceptable.
Section 15
What do you mean by the property they have?
Because they were allowed to buy land, and they sold land to them.

Otherwise if they had resented them they would not have done that.

The Sabaot community is a welcoming community...relationships drop later on but...

And...and so you feel that in terms of social interaction, they were welcome?
Yeah, they were very welcome.

And when people get a...that maybe as a teacher...was there any fear of maybe the Sabaot culture being... corrupted by the foreigners? How were foreigners viewed as teachers basically? What was the feeling of the people in terms of having these foreigners as teachers?
Having foreigners as teachers was a very welcome idea because most Sabaot teachers went to school.

And we did not speak...the mother tongues. We spoke in English, in Kiswahili so that the teachers could communicate with the children. And if you make a survey of every Sabaot home, there is a Kiswahili element in their homes.

Actually I notices...
And have you noticed even our small children can communicate in Kiswahili?

In fact, I was surprised by that. Now you are explaining it. Yeah.
So I had a Gisu maid who was very fluent in Kiswahili. And because she was so fluent, she had a wonderful impact on this little girl.

OK. Eh, OK...the...the...there are some other communities where maybe foreigners will come to teach, and the local people would feel that perhaps eh... do you feel that people get the same opportunities as the tribes of the teachers, to proceed with further education, or do you feel that they did not get the same opportunities?
In Mount Elgon here, when the teachers are posted, or were posted at that time, actually the community had no ill feeling against the teachers. Instead they sent their children to school.

So it is the Sabaot themselves who were not paying fees, or the requirements, or encouraged their own children to go to school. Otherwise the foreign teachers did not have a bias. Personally I was taught by most of those eh...foreign teachers. And they did not discriminate me at all at all.
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Even today, we're still wonderful friends with those teachers who taught me. I visit them, they visit me and it is an appreciation of each other's efforts.

So at that particular time, there was no animosity and our teachers, be they other tribes or what, they came visiting us in our own homes.

OK. OK. OK. That was good. And so, eh, what kind of ...for example...that was there. Has there been any conflict that you see, between maybe the church and the kind of education it has brought, and tradition and the kind of education that it brought?
The conflict that actually came with the church was the idea of some churches. Like SDA condemns circumcision of girls. The Quakers also condemn alcohol. What else? And a lot of traditional practices like tobacco, cigarettes and so on...eating of blood...the Sabaot liked to eat blood at that particular time.

So the Christians...condemned that.

You find that the Catholic Church has a lot of following, because they allow the alcohol, smoke…they also eat blood.

Oh, OK.
So they have a lot of following. Because relaxes all those practices

OK. So, I guess in a way the Catholic Church helps the traditional and the Christian to co-exist.

Now, for people who don't become Catholics, how did they deal with that conflict?
Eh...some just left and remained…and remained...they call them heathen. They remained unchristian, they don't belong to any church. But they exist.

OK...OK. And others are just then completely Christian?
Some lead.

OK. Alright. Now to get back to the issue of girls' education in Mount Elgon. I know you said that earlier, the people would rather pay fees for the boy than pay for the girl. Do you find any changes in that kind of attitude, or do you think those attitudes have remained the same over time?
Right now, they have changed because I see many parents prefer paying for their daughters, or they pay them equally...without much complaining especially in the areas of Kapsokwony.

There are discrimination.
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Why particularly this area of Kapsokwony?
There is a lot of light because Kibuk Girls is the only girls school in the mountain. So it is right in Kapsokwony, and very known, so that the neighbours of Kapsokwony have taken their daughters to school...

And they have seen the impact. They are already teachers, or working elsewhere.

And they have been the working daughters.

OK...the people feel that working daughters, I think you mentioned it earlier, do they help more than boys who work, or is it the same or is it...what is the view of that?
They help the...the working daughters help their parents more than the sons who are working.

Why do you think that...that is so?
They are more concerned. They are mothers, mothers of course so and they wouldn't like to see their parents suffer or brothers suffer. They would just bring themselves forward very quickly [rather] than the men who would slow down and watch from a distance.

OK. Do you think that's...Do you think that's something inherent, or do you think that it is something that has been socialised either through the traditional education system or through the formal education system?
I think it is traditionally, because we were encouraged never to overlook your parent.

OK. What about the boys, were they...they were not taught that or...or they were taught it and didn't heed to it or?
Well, I do not know in their traditional schools because men have their own affairs.

There are days in the Sabaot community when men talk to the boys and women talk to the girls. They say the girls...the mother and the daughter and the father and the son. And in our language we say that "wenta kwany chipto akana"

Which means?
Which means, the...the son, it's the father to talk to him [about] the men's affairs. And the girls, it is the mother to talk to her [about] the female affairs. So it is a school for the female and a school for the male.

OK. So as this actually the men that did basically the grandmother and the mother take that role to educate the daughter or was it mainly the grandmother?
They both took the roles.

There are many things your mother cannot tell you.
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Like what now?
Like for example, things like virginity. Your mother cannot tell you that, so it was the duty of the grandmother because you would have nothing to...share. She would even open you up.

Eh, for example there would be an evening of checking us to see who has misbehaved.

Eh. So would they check that because I know said it was checked also at the circumcision ceremony?

Before circumcision ceremony, there [are] lessons here as to tell who has misbehaved.

It used to be fun anyway.

So you do that individually or in a group?
No. We are all paraded. Your grandmother puts all of you down, and then one by one she would check. Then if you have been checked you have been recommended, now you can be allowed to see the others.

And what was...what would happen if somebody had misbehaved?
Big laughter there and then.

OK. So, now if your grandmother found that you had misbehaved and she told your mother, what would be the consequences on...on the daughter?
You would be beaten and reprimanded. But there is no excuse.

And then that...would be the end of your...of your reprimanding - the beating - or would there be other consequences?
You will also be despised, because the other girls have seen, isn't it?

Eh, you will be despised, and then the men would also get to know, and nobody would propose to marry you very fast. You would be among the last ones as a second wife.
OK. Thank you for your time and your help.