North Kenya Expedition Part 2
Encountering the El Molo on the Jade Sea
Continued from Part 1>>
…The road is treacherous. With sudden drops and loose gravel, It is advised to drive at a slow and manageable pace. A few minutes past nine pm we are finally driving through Loiyangalani town. We are unsure of where Malabo Guest house is but we meet a Good Samaritan on the road who actually turns his bike around and takes us all the way! We are already feeling very welcomed by this small town. Exhausted and hungry, we pitch camp, eat dinner and go to bed sometime after midnight.
02 Oct 2016
After a late night of star gazing and abstract thoughts, I’m awakened by the growing heat. Coming out of my tent, I can finally see the landscape in the daylight. The view is really something. It’s kilometers of flat land which opens up to the blue green waters of Lake Turkana. It’s such a beautiful sight to wake up to. We get ready, have breakfast and are off to see the area. El Molo Bay Primary school on the eastern shores of Lake Turkana is our first stop. To say I’m overwhelmed is an understatement. We meet the deputy head teacher, a lovely lady who tells us of the hardships that the school faces.
School attendance is low because of the nomadic lifestyle of the communities and it drops even lower for the girl child. The school is in a dilapidated state but it has about 375 children and their thirst for knowledge and education is unparalleled. In addition, the teachers’ passion is unmatchable. When she speaks of her students, tears of passion and pain actually well up in her eyes and it’s impossible to not get caught in it too. I’m finding it hard to believe that this is actually Kenya. It’s so far removed from the life we live in the city. From the early marriages to the tribal clashes, it’s a testament to the power of knowledge and education to see a group of people living in this school as a family, undivided by tribe or clan or gender. We move on the El molo village right on the shore of the Lake. The El molo are one of the smallest tribes in Africa (300 hundred remaining of whom only 7 ethnic speaking Elmolo).
“I have come to accept that I can’t experience everything in this lifetime,
but what I can, I will experience deeply.”
Here we meet people little disturbed by the trappings of modern life. Most of the adults are dressed in traditional regalia while the children are dressed in old modern yet simple clothing such as t-shirts. The houses in the village are Manyattas made of twigs and mud in the traditional circular shape however it is quite strange to see a solitary solar panel on one of the Manyattas which is an interesting juxtaposition with the archaic setting. After a short hike up a small hill we arrive to a lookout point where we can see the beauty that is Lake Turkana. Here, I make friends with the children and I am introduced to their culture through folklore and oral tradition. They speak of legends where snakes are elders sent to protect children and how one must never use the left hand to cook food as it is cursed.
The Loiyangalani Desert Museum is on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Lake. It is structured in a circular pattern which means the Lake is visible from every angle. It costs 100 shillings for a Kenyan citizen to enter the museum. Here, we are introduced to the various tribes that live on the Eastern shores of Lake Turkana such as the Turkana, El molo, Dasanach and Gabbra tribes.It is interesting to be immersed in the evidence of a people with rich and beautiful culture.
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness,
and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.
Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
We return to Malabo Resort at around 3:30, drained and tired after the scorching heat to prepare a quick lunch of cheesy beef sandwiches, cucumber salad and cold pineapple slices. We eat as we cool down and prepare to head to Oasis. The Oasis Resort is about ten minutes walking distance from Malabo Guest house and it is green and lush with many palms and grassy lawns. The gem of the place however, is the hot spring which is channeled into a swimming pool. It’s quite something to see a natural hot spring bubbling up into the pool. I almost forget I’m in a semi-arid area. It is quite easy to lose track of time in this relaxing place as it provides relief from the heat and before we know the sun is setting. The night sky is peppered with many stars and we spend another couple of hours looking up at the stars while lying in the pool that we finally leave at 9 pm. This is with great reluctance. Back at Malabo, we eat and sleep.
Watch our Part 2 Vlog series of North Kenya Expedition below: