The Solar Generation

“Mama Rungu, I am worried about you,” Neiboticho Wambille told me.  “I have some sour milk for you, you must drink some.”

“Acho olang, Neiboticho, I am fine.  Just very hot.”

I was sitting with Neiboticho and her business partners under the shade of a small acacia.  They proudly told me about their substantial monthly deposits in their savings box.  It was a remarkable achievement since they only started saving after the training program in October.  I had come to visit with Neibotochio because I wanted to ask her about what she had said at that meeting.

Kura had told me about Neiboticho – he was so inspired by Neiboticho’s comments that he had called me on the satellite phone the night after the training.  “Mama Rungu, there was this old woman, and during the training she stood up and said something really amazing to the rest of the group.”

David duChemin's incredible photos capture the lively spirit of Neiboticho Wambille

David duChemin’s incredible photos capture the lively spirit of Neiboticho Wambille

She said, “We Rendille, we have forgotten how to save.  A long time ago we would save part of the goat leg for the times when there was drought, or when we would have little to eat.  Then we would make soup and our children would not starve.  Now that we are more modern, we have forgotten the old ways.  BOMA has come to remind us of what we used to know.  We must save for the times when life is hard.”

Everyone was very inspired by Neiboticho’s words and it was wonderful to hear her repeat them.  As the sun blazed down through the leaves of the acacia tree, more people joined us, including some of the younger BOMA business women.  Neiboticho kept talking, “This younger generation, they do not remember the old ways.  Now they do everything quickly.  They are the solar generation.”

I looked at Kura, “Solar generation?”  I did not see any solar products in the village.

“She means all the shiny things that the young women put on their clothes and beads,” Kura told me.  It was true, one of the young women had shiny metal discs hanging from her beaded necklaces.  She had on a goat skin skirt but her shirt was a gold fabric with shiny flat beads that made the shirt shimmer in the bright African light.

I asked the young woman, Khona Wambille, what she thought about the fact that the Rendille were not as nomadic anymore.

“The main reason the older people know about the goat leg is because they were living far from everything.  They used to rely on goat legs and milk.

Now we have settled near a town and we can buy food.  We can also get relief food when there is drought.  Things are more modern near the town – it has water so that we do not have to walk long distances.  Our children can go to school.  It is also safer in town.  When we were nomadic we lived by ourselves – each clan had their own area – and we were far from town.  Then there were attacks by the Gabbra and I remember a time when they killed a child and an elder. Then we all ran away.  Some ran to Korr and some came to Kargi.”

“Since that time we have been here.”

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About Mama Rungu

Founder and CEO The Boma Project
This entry was posted in African women and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Solar Generation

  1. Njeri says:

    Kathleen,
    Just to congratulate you on the amazing job you are doing in Northern Kenya. I am from Nairobi and lived in Korr for a year and a half a while back. Weaning the residents off dependency sustainably, was always a challenge but I am glad a solution has been found through BOMA. God bless.

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