National Geographic : 1969 Feb
Kenya Says Harambee! And where is Sori? That was the question John D'Souza, an employee of the United States Embassy in Nairobi, and I kept asking as we drove toward Lake Victoria through the land of the Luo and the Kisii and the Kipsigis. Deep viscous pits in roads every where hub-deep in mud tried to entrap our four-wheel-drive vehicle. But we pushed on through a fertile, hilly land, so terraced by farmers that one might have thought himself in the Far East. Indeed, it seemed that's where we must be, since no one had heard of Sori. Celebration Attracts 3,000 Plus Two Two days out of Nairobi, we found it-the most minuscule of tiny villages, deep in rural Nyanza Province (map, page 156). The new school, yellow as a lemon in its coat of fresh paint, stood atop a bluff overlooking Lake Victoria, a serene sea where little lateen-sail fishing boats moved slowly about like toys on a pond. I had little time to savor this view. The day's festivities had brought out 3,002 people -an officially estimated 3,000 Africans; one Asian, John D'Souza; and one white man, me. My singularity attracted a throng of curious but well-behaved youngsters who followed me about as if I were some latter-day Pied Piper. "We don't see many Europeans in here," an official explained. "Only a few since inde pendence." That day proved to be one of the most memorable and rewarding of my stay in Ken ya. No one knew in advance of my coming, but all went out of their way to be kind to the stranger from America. Hospitality is a way of life to many Afri cans, and courtesy seems born in them. Vil lagers often possess manners that would grace an embassy drawing room. Had I met the teachers, the council members, the chiefs? Each smilingly shook my hand. Of course I would sit with the officials during the cere monies. Would I like a refreshing drink? Mi raculously a Coca-Cola appeared. Did I need translators? Someone who spoke Luo and Swahili would be at my elbow always. Would I like to hear the students sing? They would be pleased to do so. A choral group of boys and girls, immacu late in white blouse or shirt and dark skirt or trousers, launched into a spirited chantlike song, not unmelodic, to the accompaniment of rattles, bells, and sticks tapped together. "They have been rehearsing this song for the Vice President, who will be here soon to dedicate the school," explained their young principal, Nashon Owino-Were. "The song is about President Kenyatta. They are saying he had to fight to free his country from the Brit ish, just as the Americans did." The school had enrolled 72 students, some from as far as Kisii, 50 miles away; they would board nearby while attending classes.