Busara Blog

David H Sanders

The news from Kenya, part eight

The Galagoli

Down to the Galagoli River (then up to the Hill of Vision)

What a relief it was to start feeling healthy again!

On Thursday, the day after my reunion with Simeon (my family’s cook and gardener back in the sixties), I received another visit from Silas Vidolo, my number-one companion in Kaimosi. He stopped by to see how my visit with Simeon had gone, and told me that the next day he’d take me on another walking tour. He also told me that he had inquired about Musa (my family’s first cook), and had learned that Musa had lived for some time in nearby Shamakhokho but had since died. The news of his death, while not surprising, was upsetting.

Hesbourne, whose class I’d spoken to earlier in the week, stopped by to get contact information for me in the States, and he also asked why I hadn’t been attending morning chapel. It hadn’t occurred to me that people would notice my absence! I told him I hadn’t been feeling well, but that I’d be there in the morning.

The rest of the day I spent mostly writing up notes, reading a bit, and putting down some thoughts about my novel.

Some thoughts about my novel

A couple of realizations about my writing had started to bubble up. One was this:  my memories of the mission from 45 years ago – both factual and sensory memories – were proving to be quite accurate. Although I was learning some things about the history of Quakers in Kenya that would require some adjustments in what I’d written, to a large extent I felt I’d gotten things pretty right on.

The second realization was that my thoughts were increasingly moving beyond my current novel to ideas for its sequel.

I have long envisioned the story I’m creating as having two grand plot lines: the main character’s childhood in Kenya (the first novel), followed by 40-plus years of wandering in the “wilderness” of the U.S. before eventually returning to Kenya (the second novel).

Now…I need to stress that these novels are NOT about me or my own story. The main character is not based on me. The other characters are not portrayals of real people. The locations, situations, actions, encounters, conflicts, resolutions, are all fabricated. It’s FICTION.

That said, however, the novel’s premise – of a young American boy coming of age in a young African nation – certainly holds echoes of my own childhood experience.  And the writing of that novel has inspired ideas for its sequel – an odyssey, in effect, that follows the adult character’s efforts to return to the remembered home of his African childhood.

Again, NOT MY OWN STORY. A work of fiction. Yet I was finding that the deeper I immersed myself in Kenya on this trip – both its modern-day reality and its reality within my memory – the more deeply I felt the pull of a second novel that might draw from this same source. Considering how much the first novel has already demanded of me, I don’t take the idea lightly.

Okay, enough about novels – let’s watch some movies!

Before I left for Kenya, Nancy surprised me with a wonderful present: a little Flip video camera. I won’t bore you with the many two-second bursts of nothingness I shot as I learned to use it.

Instead, I’ll bore you with a couple of long segments I shot while on a walking tour of Kaimosi Road!

On Friday, Silas invited me to join him for another guided stroll. The videos below were a way for me to start getting on tape some of Silas’s memories of Kaimosi Mission from when he and I were boys there. These are the first of a small number of video segments I shot while in Kaimosi.

I’m sure that many of you will find these videos distinctly uninteresting. They are long and so poorly shot that you may get seasick watching them. I’m also confident, however, that at least three people will find them utterly fascinating: my brothers John, Rob, and Erin. They walked this very same road with me 45 years ago, and they continue to walk it with me every day in spirit.

These, then, are for my brothers:

Next: a walking tour up the Hill of Vision

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