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.
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…
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.”
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.”