African Art Part 1 – Kenya

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.

Kenya

Some interesting facts about Kenya are:

  1. Kenya is located in East Africa, on the Equator;
  2. The capital and largest city is Nairobi. Mombasa is the second largest city;
  3. The two official languages in Kenya are English and Swahili, although there are dozens of other languages spoken in various parts of the country;
  4. Agriculture is important to Kenya’s economy, especially tea, coffee and flowers; and
  5. Large animals such as lions, buffalo, leopards, elephants and rhinos are present in Kenya.

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Traditional dolls from Kenya

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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)

 

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67 thoughts on “African Art Part 1 – Kenya

  1. Hello Robbie. A very interesting folk tale. Kenya is somewhere I have always wanted to go. An old friend of mine climbed Mt. Kilamanjaro as part of his bucket list when he was fifty, 12 years ago. He fell in love with Kenya and Tanzania on that visit to East Africa and visits both countries regularly since. Good post. x

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    1. I am glad you enjoyed this, Kim. My husband came home after a week in Kenya last night with these gifts for me [and a huge pile of washing (wink)]. This interesting artworks inspired me to write this post. We are hoping to visit Zanzibar next year and will also see Mt Kilimanjaro.

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      1. Travelling is so inspiring. I am sure you will have lots to share with us about Mt Kilamanjaro and Zanzibar. Looking forward to hearing about them, its the only way I travel – by listening/reading about other peoples holidays and travels.

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    1. Absolutely, Sue. Folklore is something that interests me a lot and I have a number of books of folk tales from places we have visited in Africa and elsewhere. I thought it would be fun to share some of the African tales.

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      1. I’ll keep my eye out for them. My father served over there many years ago and although I remember very little of what he told us, being too young at the time, I do remember the artworks he brought home with him.

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  2. Wow.. what an interesting story Robbie.. one that evoked the imagination very much.
    Love also your collection of art.. Such a beautiful country and its lovely that you shared it with us.. I hope you are well, I have been busy at home, and not travelling around WP as much this past couple of weeks..
    I really should put a post together.. 🙂 Sending huge hugs your way and I hope also your Son is doing well also Robbie.. I kept sending my thoughts out
    Lots of Love..
    Sue xx ❤

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    1. Thank you, Sue, for thinking of my son. So kind of you. He is doing well now and I hope we will get through the rest of winter without another bad illness. I am delighted that you enjoyed this post. I thought it would be nice to share some of the wonderful art and stories of Africa.

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      1. I love reading about traditions.. So many now are getting lost.. We no longer seem to pass them along to the next generation.. And I will be going to my old village at the end of July when their tradition of Well Dressings are taking place.. 🙂 So important not to lose those early recollections of how it all began..
        The Dogans are also an important Tribe I wrote a post some years back on how they new about the orbit of Sirius B. way beyond the scientists.. Holding ancient knowledge of the stars.. Much we humans do not know, that are held in the ancient wisdom passed down throughout time.. 🙂

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      2. I think the youth are more interested in technology like movies and youtube which is part of why the old stories are not being passed down. I am currently having a great time writing my Mom’s memories of her youth. I have heard some of it before but as we go through this exercise so much more information is coming to the surface.

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  3. It’s 30 years since we were in Kenya but it was a great place to visit, I think we still have dolls like this though the beading is a little ropey after being ‘loved’ by our daughter!

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  4. Dear Robbie! Thank you for this precious photos! I craft stuffed animals & dolls, so I’m interested in doll & toy history very much. I’m very curious about the ancient toys. Your dolls are wonderful and very elegant! They must be wooden, mustn’t they?

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  5. Love hearing about the culture and lore of Kenya. Your collection is beautiful (at least what you have shown here). My mother collected dolls for the longest time but her true passion was her Santa collection. When she passed, us kids took what we wanted to remember her by, then we boxed up the rest and passed them out at her memorial luncheon. It was a grand time.

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  6. I love the dolls and the folk tale, Robbie. Although I don’t have many now, I’m endlessly fascinated by dolls. I look forward to meeting more of your dolls soon. (A friend of mine from Tanzania invited me to his wedding at home, years back, but I was studying away and could not make it. Such a shame!) 🙂

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    1. Thank you, Paul. I read somewhere that recent thoughts were that Europe was actually the cradle of mankind. I can’t remember where I read it though – interesting how new discoveries change old ideas.

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