Friday, December 5, 2008

first things first...

the best of the best. meet my friend mike and his band, the brain trust.

enjoy!

The blog takes a turn...

...starting soon, I'm going to create a music blog, because I realize that music is my favorite thing in the world, I like to stay up with a lot of new/different music, and thought I would share my findings with others. word-stay tuned..

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

I'm not religious but I've got a feeling...so this time, hands clasped and I'm kneeling.

My wish for 2008 is for World Peace. Call me ambitious, I like to think that I am. Call me crazy, I don't mind that much. But you can call me realistic when I say that this may be the year for political reform and a Democratic president in our country. Beyond our own walls (which hopefully will not be concrete one year after our election), I am hoping for peace in another country I consider myself a part of, Kenya.

The whole time I was in Kenya, everybody was focused on the election (held Dec 27th, 2007). The people of Kenya were ready for change, ready for democracy, and ready for a state of reduced corruption, something that they have hoped for their whole lives. Kenya gained independence in 1963 after being a British colony, and since then have had three presidents: Jomo Kenyatta, Daniel arap Moi, and the current Mwai Kibaki. Kibaki is a member of the Kikuyu tribe, which unfortunately is a widely disliked tribe among Kenyans. I was living with a Luo family, the tribe of the opposition, Raila Odinga. I became a very big Raila fan, along with most of the country. Raila promised to decrease corruption, which Kibaki had promised but never fulfilled.

As I am sure you have read about or seen on the news, the election was almost definitely rigged, and Kibaki was reelected.

Since then, Kenya has been in an extremely dangerous state. Hundreds have been killed, including children, and the media is saying that this situation is frighteningly similar to the state of Rwanda in 1994, just before the genocide. Luckily I have been able to contact my family members there, and they are safe and okay. However, not only is killing a major problem, but there are also extreme food shortages, as shop keepers are closing their shops, and people are afraid to leave their houses.



I have hope for Kenya.


This country is a stable one. Let us hope that they can remain stable and get beyond this violence. Democracy has been taken away from the Kenyans; let us hope that it can be restored. As I said in the title, I am not religious but I've got a feeling...so this time, hands clasped and I'm kneeling. I am hoping for peace and democracy. Let us start in Kenya, and when we make it to the voting polls, keep in mind the lives of innocent adults and children whose lives and freedoms are taken away for unfair reasons such as wars that they did not cause. Let's allow peace to be spread, and put ourselves in the shoes of those whose basic rights are taken away every day. This is not an attempt to preach, only to spread awareness and the basic idea of democracy and putting ourselves in the shoes of others. I personally, as I am sure many of you know, am a big Barack Obama fan, and I would highly suggest reading his book, "Audacity of Hope," as it really does offer what the second half of the title suggests: thoughts on reclaiming the American dream.

This post got a bit off-topic, but please pray for Kenya and its people. Pray for my friends, my family, and for democracy that the whole world deserves.

Thank you.


P.S. Barack Obama's recent statement on the violence in Kenya: http://www.voanews.com/english/2008-01-02-voa60.cfm

Monday, December 3, 2007

Two weeks????

I have finally returned for good from Maasailand (sad!). I finished my research after 3 weeks there. For those who were misinformed, I didn't have malaria, it was just a scare. I'm completely better though, and had a great last week there. I've gotten freakishly good at using pit latrines, brushing my teeth with a drop or two of water, and washing ("showering") with an inch of water in a basin. My ear is much better, I can finally sleep on both sides of my body again. I learned a bit of KiMaasai (when I say bit I mean teeeeeny bit, it's extremely hard).

Now I'm back in Nairobi with my homestay again, which I'm supposed to be paying for, but they consider me part of the family, so I am staying for free-SO nice. I now have 4 days (the 4th being the due date) to write a 40 page paper that I have yet to start. Not to mention, I don't have a computer of my own here, so I hve to be in the office from 8:30 until 5 all of these days, otherwise I have to pay for airtime. But on Friday we're going to Mombasa for evaluation and ISP presentations. Then we come back to Nairobi, and Mom, Dad and Emma are coming! We'll be in Nairobi for a night then to Bodo for 3 days! Can't wait to see them!

Went out with some of my friends the other night to an Ethiopian restaurant. I had never eaten Ethiopian food before, but it was delicious! They had a live band too, which was great. I met a really cute/nice guy in the band too :)

Just found out that Julia and I will be the New Member Chairs together for Kappa when we get back to school, which should be a lot of fun. The two of us together...should be interesting :) We're also living in a GREAT apartment facing the pool at our apartment complex (belmont) next year, which is so so exciting. Can' wait!

I can't believe all of this is wrapping up so quickly. I've had the time of my life. STarting to feel a bit ready to come home to some familiarity and some Italian/Mexican food. I miss my family and friends a lot by now.

Love to everybody,
Kusini

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Nimerudi Nairobi...

I have arrived back in Nairobi. It is a little earlier than expected because I'm sick and want to see a doctor in Nairobi. Maasailand was absolutely amazing! While there, I switched my topic from how fertility affects womens roles to the role of the grandmother and how culture has changed over the course of their lives. It was really interesting. For some reason (probably the fact that they're around 80 years old and still working so hard everyday), I was fascinated by the grandmothers and the respect they got from everybody, despite how little women are respected in general.

The grandmother in our Boma pierced my upper ear Maasai style. I actually got it done twice because the first one was too close to the edge-sorry, Mom. The second one is great though, I Love it. They put sticks in it to stretch it out. I also got 3 more brands, these ones by rubbing sticks together to make fire then putting that fire onto your skin for about 5 seconds. Whereas the first brand had little chance of lasting, it seems these 3 circles will last forever.

And, most exciting of all, MY SISTER IS GETTING MARRIED!!!! Congratulations Wheeler, I couldn't be happier for you.

More later-time to check the 200 unread emails in my mailbox...you people send too many emails!!

Much love,
Kus

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Kwaheri kwa sasa!

Goodbye for now! Off to live with the Maasai for 2-3 weeks starting Thursday, researching the role of women in society and how this is affected by pregnancy, infertility, and traditional rituals. Should be a great time!

Will have my cellphone on...if you have cingular, you should be able to text me! Otherwise, I will check email in 2 or 3 weeks, depending on when I finish my research.

Love to all.
Kus

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Right when I thought things couldn't get better...

Wow-I don't even know how to start. Considering using the word "dude," but considering aunts, uncles, and even grandparents are using this, I'll refrain. I've honestly had SO much fun the past 8 days that I spent in Tanzania. Emma...you're right, great place! Still love Kenya, but the touristy 8 days we spent there were so fun.

Started out staying at a place called UAACC, which is run by 2 former Black Panthers, Pete and Charlotte O'Neil. They are AMAZING! Mzee Pete was deported after challenging Clarence Kelly to a fight in 1970; 37 years later, they've lived in Angola for 2 years and TZ for 35. Truly amazing couple. While there, we volunteered (painted 3 rooms) at an orphanage, learned African dances and performed them, and heard Pete and Charlotte's personal stories and words of advice. We also went to a local concert and they asked me to perform...it was my first live concert! Truly amazing.

After that we left to go stay in a Maasai village for 2 days. It was one of the better times of my life. Because I introduced myself as Kus-kus (pronounced like the food), which is what most people call me these days, they remembered me and probably talked to me the most outof the 14 of us who went to TZ (others went to Uganda). Right when we got there we witnessed a calf being born. Right after that we got a tour of the Boma (the houses/huts they live in are truly amazing), the area, learned about their traditional herbal medicine, and some of their traditions. In the evening our Maasai guide took us on a little walk to show us the sunset. While there, we ran into some giraffes and our guide sprinted off (they really are FAST) to chase them away. Giraffes, along with most other animals, are truly terrified of Maasai. That night we had a campfire near our campsite, right near the Boma. The Maasai came and we talked about some cultural differences (with a translator of course). The next day we woke up early and they sacrificed a goat for us. They killed it by suffocating it, then we skinned it (I helped! Much worse to watch than participate, for some reason), took the organs out, and bbq-ed the liver. Didn't taste too bad! After that we went to a celebration for a girl who had just gotten circumcised one Boma over. After that, we went back to the Boma right next to our camp and they laid out beads for us and we got to make anklets etc. One of the ladies from the Boma said "Ninapenda sana Kus kus" (I like Kus Kus) and made me a necklace. Afterwards, many of us got branded (I got it on my right shoulder-it's in the shape of a circle. Really didn't hurt at all!), then we went and bought traditional Maasai jewelry from them. I'm all decked out now!

Now for the really interesting part! There was one Maasai warrior, named Lekipa, who I think I fell in love with. Maybe not love...but something similar. He was BEAUTIFUL, let me borrow his cloth and stick for the day, and then that evening invited me to his Boma to meet his first wife (polygamy is very common and accepted in Maasai culture). She made me tea, and after he told her that he wanted to marry me, she kindly (and willingly!) took a beaded ring off her finger and put it on mine. It was SO cute! My friend got a picture of me with him and his family, and I met his mother. Haha...all on the first date! Anyway, he was so sweet-maybe I'll have to return and get married to a Maasai! Ha!

After the Maasai we went and saw one of the last 2 hunter gatherer tribes in Africa. They are called the Wahadzabe tribe, and they hunt with bows and arrows. They took us on a short hunting trip, showed us how to shoot the arrows, and sold us some jewelry.

The next day we went on a safari, and saw TONS of animals. Among others, we saw lions, rhinos, hippos, monkeys, dik diks, buffalo, wildebeest, flamingos, hyenas, jackals, eagles...etc. We were in a crater while seeing all of these. Absolutely amazing. Then we went back to UAACC and had a "jam session." They put all of their instruments out and had open microphones. I performed again, and after dinner they took me to their studio and we recorded 2 songs. It was SO fun!

This morning we left to come back to Nairobi, and now here I am! If I forgot anything, I'll add later.

Miss you all, but must say not enough to want to come home!! :)

Love to everybody,
Kuskus