True Stories From Iten
Kabon was one of the last people to still worship the sun. In the early 1950s when she was already old and infirm, and blinded by cataracts, she laughed all efforts of proselytizing her to the Christian faith by pointing at the sun with her walking stick and saying that there was only one god and that was Asiis, Chepkelyen Sogol (The Sun, Our Nine-legged Daughter). She lived with her daughter in Sergoit and when she felt death coming she asked to be taken back to her home since life ( her daughter’s marriage and children) could not mix with her death. She called my mother aside, who was only about 5 years old at the time and told her of her impending death. She said she had nothing else to give my mother but her skin cloak. Then she plucked out pieces of her hair and placed it on my mother’s head and said she would live long till all her hair was as white as the clouds that scudded the sky. The next day Kabon’s son who lived in Kamariny sent two oxen bearing a forked stick (chepchuguguk) to Sergoit. On this forked stick, a mat was tied and then Kabon was laid on it and dragged to Kamariny. She had a stubborn wound on her stomach (probably a form of cancer) which could not heal and therefore could not be carried on someone’s back. In Kamariny, her son, ever so afraid that he would not see his mother in heaven went to Sing’ore to ask the Irish priest in charge of the diocese to come and baptize her mother. Meanwhile Kabon was in such agony from her stomach wound and a local medicine man pierced the wound with an arrow to let the pus out. By the time the Irish priest came, Kabon could no longer speak, and her son was ever so relieved when she was finally baptized and could then enter heaven as Elizabeth. My mother would regularly visit Kabon in Kamariny but one day she walked into her home to find the door to her hut closed. When she tried to peak inside, the adults around chased her away. Much later, in her own child’s wisdom, she figured out the spot where Kabon was buried since it was cleared of grass and had flowers planted atop.She remembered Kabon instructing people to plant a tree on her grave, and she reminded the adults around of Kabon’s last wish.They all laughed it off and told her to go and play with the other children. This disrespect of Kabon’s burial wish bothered my mother so much and food lost taste to her for a long while after that. Kabon’s husband, Kipkigey lived in the valley with his second wife. He immediately got a stroke when he heard of his wife’s death and his hands curled. The son planned a visit to go and see him but on his way someone ran up to him and told him that Kipkigey had died, which was just three days after Kabon had passed on. The son held back his tears but decided to go on and see his father, even though he was dead.
I enjoyed reading your blog very much. My daughter is living in Kenya with her family. I think it is so important for you to continue to tell the stories of your grandparents and the old ways which are so quickly disappearing. Keep telling your stories! Keep writing them for the generations to come.
Thank you for the reminder. Our lives are so short but very unique. No one else will get to witness the world as you do. So I will do my best to write about the world my ancestors saw. Where is your daughter based? Kenya is a wonderful country. You are welcome anytime.
My daughter is living in Bomet. I had the wonderful experience of coming to Kenya in October 2015 to care for her children while she studied Swahili in Limuru. I stayed for 4 months and look forward to returning sometime in the future. Kenya is wonderful but is changing so quickly. I hope people hold fast to their culture and traditions while embracing new things that will improve people’s lives.
I hope someone finally planted a tree there. If i die, it would be my burial wish too.
No one did. But that is alright. Which tree will you pick when your life is glorified for the next world?
I haven’t made up my mind yet but definitely some sort of tree with more uses than one. My parents had to go through a tough financial period before I was born. My mom told me they got through it because there was a drumstick and papaya tree growing nearby. They had good meals even when they were broke. So definitely a tree like that at least….
That is a very pleasant explanation. Trees as symbols that speak to life’s ups and downs is never a bad idea. At the very least you have shade. At the most, kind blessings from the universe.
Plus I like the idea of continuing on in some relevant way. Supposing I die and there is no afterlife, at least my body will feed new life that can be useful to future generations…
True true. Very practical.
I just want my life to have some lasting meaning… even if it is only in my head
And here I thought that Asis was God not a god. I will definitely sue my social studies teacher.
Asiis, was a female deity, who was referred to by many names, e.g, chepkelyen sogol-daughter with nine legs.