Friday, December 27, 2013

"The White Ants are Coming!" (Well, yes they did come...and they ate my house.)

My friend Samuel, a year older than me, near Eldoret
It's nothing that I planned, nor could I have done so. Growing up in an area of Kenya where the Nandi language group dominated, my first African friend was called Samuel.

He was named for Samuel, in the Bible, and for the man who helped the Nandi Bible to be translated by Stuart Bryson.

Samuel, the teacher who helped Stuart Bryson to learn the Nandi language, had gone from a village near Eldoret to Kijabe. (I'll tell that story in the next blog.)

"The White ants - unwelcome visitors, ate our house
Because the Nandi languages - several dialects - demand the careful use of "tone", it was easy to Light in Darkness.
make a mistake. Bryson tells this story in his book,
"When the others had gone my African col

These walls had to be rebuilt
league Samuel said to me, 'Bwana, do you know the difference between these two Nandi words?' and he pronounced two words. 'I can hear,' I said, 'that one of them has a rising inflection and the other has a falling inflection.'

"Yes," said Samuel, "one means 'visitors' and the other means 'white ants. You have been talking to us about white ants and telling s that they will be visiting us!"

Well, that Samuel was an old man when I had my friend Samuel. I used the right inflection when I poked my finger against the wall, and all the wood inside had been eaten by the white ants - the termites. There was nothing there! The "wall", which was now just a layer of paint, was torn down. Eight Kikuyu carpenters came to rebuild the entire house.

Eight African carpenters rebuilt our house, making it larger
Those white ants (inflection falling) were certainly unwelcome visitors (inflection rising).

And we would not say "'Chamge" (Is it well? - Hello), but we gladly said "saisere" (goodbye) to them.

The house was rebuilt with a better foundation, and at that time I only remembered a little bit of the displacement - our family had to leave the walls. The wonderful African carpenters knew how to get rid of the ants, digging up their large next which was right under out house. The entire structure had to be rebuilt, and they did it by leaving the roof in place. We never knew how it was that the roof didn't fall down on us, causing distress and grief.


1 comment:

  1. Good Day Brother Dave! Almost unbelievable if you had not posted Photos! Also I've seen it for myself just a little further South down in Tanzania....Have a good one David....!