Christmas in Western Kenya

I spent Christmas in Western Kenya with a Kenyan family I know but I’m just now getting around to posting the pictures. From what I’ve seen most Kenyans live in urban areas but keep some sort of home in their rural areas where they can spend time during the holidays. My friend’s family comes from Western Kenya, a place called Chepsaita, about an hour past Eldoret. I had only passed Western Kenya on a bus but never spent any time there. Christmas in Kenya was like any other day but with an extra-long church service thrown in. Besides, the big event was celebrating my friend’s brother’s circumcision.

Although the actual circumcision was done in a hospital several months before, they slaughtered a bull as the Luhya tradition dictates. There were a lot of people from the family around, all sorts of cousins, uncles, brothers, and several grandmas (hello, polygamy!). When it was time to kill the bull, a certain Muslim butcher came to help out. They first tied the front two legs together and then roped in a third to force the bull to lose balance. After that they stretched out the neck and the butcher said, “Bismillahi rahmani rahim” (in the name of God, most gracious, most merciful). I stood and watched the whole thing. It was a big bull; there were at least five men there to help dissect/dismember/whatever. According to Luhya tradition every family member gets a different part depending on their relation to the family hosting the ceremony. On a subsequent day all people from the village are invited over and they also partake in the feast and carry some meat home.

This is a beautiful part of Kenya, by the way; it’s located in the extremely fertile Great Rift Valley, which extends from Lebanon to Mozambique. If you remember your anthropology/paleontology well you’d recall that there have been amazing finds related to human evolution in the rift valley (and East Africa as a whole). This particular place is also home to the Nandi Hills, where the awesome Kenyan marathon runners come to practice. I heard that, because there are no cars and the place is so hilly, the kids in this region have to travel 10 kilometers every day to get to school, and the only way to make it on time is to run (probably barefoot).

Here are a few more pictures:

The little girl is Mercy, one of my friend’s cousins. I don’t know who the little boy is but he was adorable because he always had that funny, almost inquisitive look on his face, and he never had any pants on. Haha!

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