The wild sweet heartbeat of Mother Earth seemed to beckon us to Africa the following year. We settled on the nation of Kenya, whose cornicopia of climate and terrain seemed to represent the variety of the continent. In learning about Kenya's geography, we learned of hills and lowlands, woods and savannah, the Indian Ocean coast and Lake Victoria. In learning of Kenya's people, we learned of village farmers and city dwellers in Nairobi, as well as Masai Warriors and people of Middle Eastern descent. As a matter of fact, we first encountered Chapatis, a traditional Indian flatbread, when studying Kenya. We would find them a familiar favorite by the time we studied India two years later.
The celebration of Christmas in Kenya includes the traditional roasting of goat meat or beef, a dish called nyama choma, which is seasoned with garlic, lemon, curry, tumeric and other flavorful spices. With these familiar spices scenting the air, Kenyans gather to share family stories and other traditions. The birth of Christ is celebrated with song and religious services. Churches are decoriated with flowers and greenery, ribbons and garlands.
We named our Kenyan doll Kamaria, which means "Like the Moon" in Swahili. She is dressed in a traditional Kanga (a long piece of cloth, wrapped around the body) with a skafu, or scarf, as a head covering. I like to think she is heading to the church with the greenery she is carrying, perhaps singing softly to herself, and walking softly in time to the same heartbeat of the Earth that called us to Africa. Or perhaps, she is chanting to herself in the poetic, alliterative language of her land, this Swahili proverb meaning "Little by little fills the measure."
Haba na haba hujaza kibaba.
photos by Aisling, December 2006