The main highway through the heart of Kenya is crowded with trucks and boda bodas (bicycle taxis), a winding paved road that stretches from Mumbasa on the coast, west through the Rift Valley, and eventually across the border into Uganda. We've traveled that road for three days now, first out of the capital Nairobi to Nakuru, a provincial capital 150km to the northwest and home to Self Help Africa's in-country headquarters. From Nakuru, we have lighted out further west and eventually taken the road less traveled--a dirt path right off the highway that stretches through fields of maize, beans, and millet towards Rongai.
Rongai is a district in the Rift Valley, which is itself a province in Kenya. It is here, just outside the main town center, that we find our home for the next three weeks. Legetio, an 1800-acre village in Rongai district, is home to 902 smallholder farmers and their families, as well as a few landless businessmen and a handful of churches, schools, and plots of public land.
Bouncing along these back roads, we break for small herds of cattle on their way to graze and wave at streams of men, women, and children making their way to work or school on foot or bicycle. Nearly everyone shares a welcoming smile, if at times paired with a puzzled stare.
Here, we finally come to Legetio and the 10-acre shamba (vegetable garden) of Mr. Samuel Yator. A former chief who retired in June 2002, Mr. Yator is our host for the next three weeks as we explore life in a rural African village, from education to agriculture to politics, and everything in between. Mr. Yator, 65, now makes his living as a farmer, mainly raising dairy cows while also growing maize, millet, beans, and other crops.
In an attempt to illustrate village life for audiences back home, I will spend time with him and his wife, their family and neighbors, as well as other men and women in the area--from smallholder farmers to beekeepers to schoolteachers to district officers to medical practitioners and beyond. I hope you'll join me for this journey, and check back in for stories from "A Village in Africa."
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