As some of you may have noticed, I love dolls, stuffed animals and art. I collect dolls from everywhere I go and have a reasonable collection of antique china dolls. What I haven’t ever mentioned is my, fairly extensive, collection of African art.
This morning I am sharing a few pictures of my African artworks from Kenya as well as a few interesting facts about this beautiful East African country and a folk tale.
Some interesting facts about Kenya are:
- Kenya is located in East Africa, on the Equator;
- The capital and largest city is Nairobi. Mombasa is the second largest city;
- The two official languages in Kenya are English and Swahili, although there are dozens of other languages spoken in various parts of the country;
- Agriculture is important to Kenya’s economy, especially tea, coffee and flowers; and
- Large animals such as lions, buffalo, leopards, elephants and rhinos are present in Kenya.
Traditional dolls from Kenya
A collection of stone animals from Kenya
A traditional Kenyan folk tale
The origin of cattle (Maasai)
In the beginning, the Maasai did not have any cattle. One day God called Maasinta, who was the first Maasai and said to him: “I want you to make a large enclosure, and when you have done so, come back and inform me.” Maasinta went and did as he was instructed, and came back to report what he had done. Next God said to him: “Tomorrow, very early in the morning, I want you to go and stand against the outside wall of the house for I will give you something called cattle. But when you see or hear anything do not be surprised. Keep very silent.” Very early in the morning, Maasinta went to wait for what was to be given him. He soon heard the sound of thunder and God released a long leather thong from heaven to earth. Cattle descended down this thong into the enclosure. The surface of the earth shook so vigorously that his house almost fell over. Maasinta was gripped with fear, but did not make any move or sound. While the cattle were still descending, the Dorobo, who was a house-mate of Maasinta, woke up from his sleep. He went outside and on seeing the countless cattle coming down the strap, he was so surprised that he said: “Ayieyieyie!”, an exclamation of utter shock. On hearing this, God took back the thong and the cattle stopped descending. God then said to Maasinta, thinking he was the one who had spoken: “Is it that these cattle are enough for you? I will never again do this to you, so you had better love these cattle in the same way I love you.” That is why the Maasai love cattle very much.
How about the Dorobo? Maasinta was very upset with him for having cut God’s thong. He cursed him thus: “Dorobo, are you the one who cut God’s thong? May you remain as poor as you have always been. You and your offspring will for ever remain my servants. Let it be that you will live off animals in the wild. May the milk of my cattle be poison if you ever taste it.” This is why up to this day the Dorobo still live in the forest and they are never given milk.
This story was obtained from John Tyman’s Cultures in Context Series. You can find more interesting Kenyan Folk Tales on his webpage: http://www.johntyman.com/africa/folk/#1
Robbie and Michael Cheadle are the co-authors of the Sir Chocolate Book series and Robbie Cheadle is the author of Silly Willy goes to Cape Town (coming soon)