The nomadic tribes of the Kenyan desert are storytellers. Before my friends had the chance to go to school, we learned as we lived. Our first classrooms were the hills we walked with the cows, the cooking fires where we boiled sweet camel milk, the rivers where we filled our dried squash. Babas and Kamas – or as we say in English Moms and Dads – told us stories of the how the Sun and Moon wrestled to decide who would be queen of the sky. The elders would gather the children around the fire to tell them about how the Fox and the Giraffe got caught stealing the farmer’s grapes.
We are so proud to present “Under the Mukusu Tree” a collection of stories written by our 8th grade students at Daylight!
The students wanted to write down these stories so that future generations can read the stories they learned. It is quite a gift because these stories are changing as life in Kenya is changing. More and more children are spending their days learning inside classrooms studying reading, math, and science. They are growing up to do jobs like bankers and lawyers. So they wanted to put together these stories so that the values the village will go with them into their new jobs. These stories teach us honesty, community, and respecting your elders.
Now you might notice that some of the stories are set in a traditional village and others are set in a city and some are set in a formal school setting. This is because our students wanted to add new stories they have heard while living life in the city. Stories that have helped our students translate the village values into 21st Century Kenyan life.
This is how our village adds stories. When elders from other tribes came to visit they shared stories from their village and some of these stories were retold to our children. As each generation comes of age, they retell the stories, adding new details to make the story come alive to the next generation. Our community trusts the wisdom of the elders in each generation to translate the values.
Who knows? Maybe someday we will have a story about how the Phone learned about the Internet!
Daylight Kenya Director