By Kenda Mutongi
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Extra info for Worries of the Heart: Widows, Family, and Community in Kenya
9 The missionaries were met at the train station by Hobley, that infamous subcommissioner who had recently subdued the people of western Kenya. Having come to know the area well through his exploits, he offered to show them around and help them settle on a place that would be suitable for an industrial mission. With the help of twenty-eight local porters, they wandered through western Kenya, camping in various places—and like Thomson, the Scottish explorer who had visited the area in the 1880s, the missionaries found the Luyia to be affable.
People were scared. ” I continued to press, asking if she was aware that African doctors performed postmortems in several major hospitals in Kenya. “Yes, I know that,” she replied, and to exhibit her knowledge of the subject she offered up the names of people she had known whose bodies had been surrendered to postmortem. ” In these cases she felt that the postmortems had been justified because they helped rule out the possibility of poisoning. ” For people in western Kenya, apparently, slicing open the stomach of a dead man conjured up the image of an animal, a goat or sheep, being slaughtered for food or, worse, the image of a hyena feasting on a carcass.
This, apparently, was little consolation to his mother. Her story is not unique. James Ahonya, yet another one of the first “feeble little lads” to visit the mission station, also caused a great deal of trouble for his mother. Ahonya had become an enthusiastic Christian convert, but his mother was not at all pleased with his conversion. 7 Our conversation was revealing. ” “Ahonya wouldn’t have listened the same way, because kids fear men more than women. Don’t you know that men have more power?