We are pleased to participate in the A to Z Blog Challenge (http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/). The Story Crossroads theme for this year is Kindness Across Cultures: Stories to Prove We Care. Each post highlights present-day and folktale examples.
Kenya beckons the world with its beauty. The people and the land resonate with wonder from the savannahs and grasslands to the snowy peaks of the mountains. This picture of a sunset in Kenya was taken taken by David Okwii. Another picture below features storyteller Mara Menzies sharing stories for children.
Present-Day Kindness & Keenness
World Vision Kenya has many aims such as helping orphaned children or disaster relief. Amongst these aims is also the WASH program so that safe water is accessible to all. Other efforts are made to increase health and hygiene. Over 2,500 student in Kakuma Mixed Secondary School benefited from a bio sanitation gas project. The Kakuma refugee camp used the alarmingly increasing human waste as a way to safely be used as a fire resource in cooking food. More of the projects of World Vision Kenya are found here: https://www.wvi.org/
Past Kindness & Keenness (Folktale)
This Kenyan folktale is found in a picture book called “How the Ostrich Got Its Long Neck: a tale of the Akamba of Kenya” retold by Verna Aardema, published by Scholastic. It is much like “The Elephant’s Child” by Rudyard Kipling yet with a much kinder character.
Here is a summary:
The Ostrich used to have a short neck. With such long legs, it was hard for Ostrich to drink water. Ostrich had to stretch his legs so wide to quench his thirst. He had trouble reaching the berries in the bushes. One day, Crocodile had a toothache and asked animal after animal if they could check his mouth and dig out the bad tooth. After warnings from the Fish Eagle, the Kudu and the Baboon refused to help. Finally, Crocodile asked Ostrich. He originally backed a little away. Fish Eagle warned. The Crocodile cried and Ostrich felt sorry for Crocodile. Despite knowing the danger, Ostrich wished to help. He tapped the teeth and asked Crocodile if it hurt in order to find the bad tooth. Eventually, Crocodile forgot about the toothache and instead grew hungry. Crocodile clamped his jaws tight about Ostrich’s neck. Ostrich pulled one way. Crocodile pulled the other way. Ostrich’s neck stretched. Ostrich had such strong legs that Ostrich even pulled Crocodile out of the water. The added sun caused Crocodile’s toothache to hurt more and Crocodile gave up and slunked into the water. Ostrich discovered he had a useful long neck that made it easy to drink and eat. From then on, ostriches stayed away from the river. Ostrich lived a happy life.
Interesting Notes on Kindness
- Ostrich, knowing the danger of the Crocodile even before Fish Eagle called out, choose kindness over fear
- Other animals had already refused to help yet Ostrich felt compelled to help
- The kindest people often place themselves in danger although wise enough to know that it could end badly
- The Crocodile never got that bad tooth out in forgetting the kindness of the Ostrich even in the moment of that kindness
- Ostrich still benefited for taking that risk of kindness and was better able to help himself (and likely to help others again)
- Ostrich and his descendants did stay away from crocodile for kindness can be given but if mistreated then that kindness belongs to others
- Ostrich was more cautious yet did not change his overall personality of being kind
What stories of kindness do you know associated with Kenya? Anywhere in the world – past or present? Please share in the comments…or anything on your mind.
While you enjoy this blog, Story Crossroads has year-round offerings including the culminating Festival on May 23, 2018 (see schedule here: https://storycrossroads.com/2018-schedule/).
We thank our funders such as the National Endowment for the Arts, the Utah Division of Arts and Museums, the Western States Arts Federation, Utah Humanities, the City of Murray, the South Jordan Arts Council, Utah Valley University and many other individuals. Join us in the support by attending or donating or both! (Click here to donate or get tickets.)