National Geographic : 1988 Dec
The Munorus MEMBERS OF THE KIKUYU, Kenya's most westernized tribe, Njoroge and Susan Munoru have a dream: to see theirfour children through secondaryschool. A modest goal in many countries, it will require greatsacrificesfrom the Munorus, whose coffee crop last year earned them only $120 after expenses for fertilizersand pesticides. The pri mary school, where seven-year-old Julius and his classmates assem ble each morningfor flag raising (left), charges$75 a year. Next year the bill will double when Julius'sfive-year-old sister, Njeri, enters first grade. Three years later, when the twins, Nganga and Beati (a boy and girl), come Population,Plenty, and Poverty of age, the fees will double again. To boost his income, Njoroge has increasedhis coffee plantings from 120 to 250 trees. While there will still be marginalgrass to sup port his one cow, there will be less spacefor food crops, such as corn andpotatoes. Like many of Kenya's small landholders,Njoroge, a trained stonemason, supplements his income with day work in nearby towns, where he earns aboutfive dollars a day. When work is avail able, Susan earns about two dol lars a day in the fields of larger farms. But even with theirextra income, they barely can afford the necessities of life. Meat is a lux ury rarely enjoyed. For Susan life is an endless round of long, burdensome treks. Charcoalfor cooking must be hauled (top) from a kilometer away. Forfood staplesshe walks four kilometers to the market town of Githumu (above), return ing by bus when she can afford it. Even water must be carriedfrom a distantstream. But during the rainy season, runoff is collected from the roof of their small mud and wattle house, where Njeri gets a shampoo and hair treatmentfrom her cousin Mary (above left). Reflecting a new attitudein Kenya, the Munorus do not want more children. "If we have more, how can we send them to school, how can we feed them?" asks Susan. In a major change of pol icy, Kenya's leadersnow talk of the need for family planning.