We walk over a hillside and down to the lake as we talk. Mark tells me stories about the village and its people. The El Molo people are the smallest tribe in Kenya.

The hill we climb as we talk.

Layeni is one of the villages they live in, and there’s another village nearby called Komote where more of them are found.

“Layeni means ‘place of good boys, ” says Mark.
“Place of good boys?”

He tells me that people in Layeni mostly birth boys. And people in Komote mostly birth girls.

“So does ‘Komote’ mean…”
“Yes, it means place of girls!”

He tells me that there are seasons in which the young people from both villages intermingle. They have some sort of festives together, because, let’s face it, boys and girls somehow have to meet. Survival of species and all…

After the hill we start going down to the lake.

It now hits me that I have hardly seen any little girls playing around in the village, just boys. During our last visit, we visited both islands and noticed quite some differences in the cultures of the two placces. Due to the rising levels of the lake, Komote island is now completely cut off from land. They have to use boats to move around and bring in all their supplies. Quite a task for people who hardly produce anything.

“Can’t someone in Komote quit the place and come live here in Layeni?” I ask.
Layeni scoffs at the thought. “It’s very hard,” he says. The two islands are very different. Someone from over there will find it hard to live here, and someone from here will find it hard to live over there.”

We meet another fisherman who is collecting algae to use to bait fish.
Algae on stone. The scrap it off.
We have to walk through these rocks.
Finally we find Bendera.
We walk back to the village.
Bendera prepares some fresh fish.
Layeni boys.
Boys, boys, boys.
Food eaten.
My campsite, right next to the lake, within the village.
Mark’s house.

After eating fish, Mark tells me to take a walk with him so he can show me a good spot from which to photograph the sunset.


I call my people while up here because the network is good. We then go back down to the village. Mark invites me to have tea with his family later. We pass by a shop where I buy some soda and biscuits. Then I go to my tent and rest a bit as it gets dark.

After dusk, Mark takes me to his family. I meet his father, and his mother too. The moon is out. They don’t sit in their houses, they sit outside on mats, and on seats placed outside. That’s how life is here, people don’t really stay inside their houses. Some even sleep outside as long as it’s not raining.

Mark’s father welcomes me. He is in charge of the kitchen today, while Marks mum relaxes on a mat outside. Feminists would choke on their patriarchy theories if they saw this right now.

“We are having tortoise for dinner today,” Mark tells me. “That’s why I invited you over.”


“Dad is making tortoise.”

6 thoughts on “Farcing the Jade Sea | Part 4”

  1. Hats off djothefu……Back in 06 and 07 i was doing Mission work(week long) in Baragoi and Nachola(13 kms from Baragoi) and i have to admit it felt and was one of the unsafest places. We had to have Police escort all the way from Rumuruti. For you to ride through this area alone must be courageous or clueless to some extent. Those days Nachola used to be the end of the road for any automobile due to insecurity. Your story has brought about sweet memories..Baragoi a one street town with Turkanas and Samburus on either side. The tortoise meat experience is very hilarious. Now i want to ride to this place…

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