kalepo – a work in progress
With every drop of rain I find myself looking skywards. It seems that the world waits, the ground open-mouthed like cuckoos in a nest, hungry for each morsel delivered from the sky; waiting expectantly, dependant on this airborne bounty for survival. Rain, when it does come, challenges the senses. The sound is deafening; the leaves become an orchestra of drums, and like the clash of tiny cymbals the earth is catapulted into the air as little bombs of liquid life fall from the sky. Dust clouds that once hung comfortably above herds of livestock, painting biblical scenes of this drought, are driven to the ground like ghosts with heavy pockets. The land turns from brown to green in what seems like seconds. Balance is quickly restored, and those who benefitted from the weakness of others now find their predation a little harder. The warriors return from the mountains where, for months, they’ve tried to keep their livestock alive on leaves and roots. The rains will bring a time of abundance for all here in northern Kenya. That is what we pray for, but instead, right now we have a drought of biblical proportions.
This landscape and its people are crushingly beautiful. Days are painted with honey and dust. Blood dries quickly on sand where dreams are lifted high from broken bodies and carried far from here. Those dreams, when they do land, often find no home but rather a stone step to sit on and ponder what life is left behind. This land, these people, deserve more. When I look into their eyes I see myself looking out, this is not a story, this is life in its richest form; we must never stop looking into their eyes.
The Samburu are known here as ‘the butterfly people’ because of their colourful clothes and magnificent beadwork, and also because of the metamorphosis that lies ahead of each and every warrior as he progresses from boy, to man.
This is ‘with butterflies and warriors’
My cocoon tightens, colors tease,
I’m feeling for the air;
A dim capacity for wings
Degrades the dress I wear.
A power of butterfly must be
The aptitude to fly,
Meadows of majesty concedes
And easy sweeps of sky.
So I must baffle at the hint
And cipher at the sign,
And make much blunder, if at last
I take the clew divine.