Friday, December 22, 2006


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


Patty said...

When I was homeschooling my children, 17 years worth, we would take an interest in a country, we would eat the food, learn some of the language, study every aspect we could of the country. Consequently, my children are very culturally aware and accepting.

And please feel free to link my blog, I would be honored.

Aisling said...


I don't know if you looked back to the beginning of my Christmas Dolls entries, but this all started when my oldest was 5 and so interested in learning about other traditions. During our homeschooling years, we delved in as deeply as we could. My children are younger than yours so I am glad to hear that this sort of study has led to culturally-aware, accepting adults. I see that already in my older children. In fact, my oldest is an exchange student this year, getting first hand exposure to another culture!

I will be adding that link to your blog today. Thanks for the "go ahead." :)

merceditas said...

We named our Kenyan doll Kamaria, which means "Like the Moon" in Swahili.

Hi, I live in nairobi, kenya and I am a swahili speaker. Kamaria does not mean like the moon, kamwezi does.

Aisling said...

Thank you for taking the time to comment here. We got the name Kamaria from an online name list, and "like the moon" was the meaning it listed - which we thought very beautiful. Do you know what Kamaria might really mean?

As we found out when our daughter spent her year in Taiwan, learning about a country from visiting or living there is so different - deeper and richer, of course - than just reading about it in books. So far, I have only had the opportunity to learn about the world through reading or talking to those who have travelled. One day I hope I will visit Kenya, among many other places. How nice to meet you!