My Day in Nairobi

31 08 2012

Today I had many errands to run and much to do.  Cell phone issues to resolve, literature shipping issues to address and printing contacts to meet.  Even a bible resource to greet and confirm.   All that aside, that is not what I want to take note of.  My Western mind was again surprised today with the low esteem that women has in the African society and indeed in almost every non Western country.

When I wake women are bent over in the fields chopping weeds and many times with a small child strapped on their backs.  The men stand in the road and visit.  A dowry is paid for a wife and it has been explained to me that this is when a man “buys” his wife from her parents.  If the husband dies the parents of the husband want the children but not the widow.  There is one local situation where a widow has had the children taken by the deceased husband’s parents and they can’t afford them.  But they won’t give them back to the widowed mother.  Tradition allows them to hold them from their mother but demand that she gives them money for food for them.  Since they took the children far away she now had to leave where she was living and try to stay near the children and provide for them as well as she can in a place she does not normally live.  She is not allowed to stay with the grandparents but her money is welcome.  Legally she can get them returned but that will take time.

I expected to see something different in Nairobi.  I thought that since they are so materialistically motivated and thus follow the lead of the West that perhaps they had learned to value all human beings with honor.  So I saw a very well dressed woman with a very pretty little girl dressed like she was much loved.   A father walked up and sweetly kissed the little girl on the head.  There was a very heavy wicker container with a long strap sitting on it next to the mother.  The father and mother saw me looking at them admiring their wonderful family.  They smiled back and waved and nodded.  Then the father lifted the heavy container and I could really tell that this thing weighted at least 40 or 50lbs.  He strained as he lifted it.  Then to my surprise he turned and put the heavy strap around his wife’s head and positioned it on her back so that she carried the bundle with the strap across her forehead like a bridle in a horse’s mouth.  He then lovingly took his little girls hand and they walked away and the wife followed.

Did not see that one coming.  Nor did I foresee the next sight.  I have seen little boys begging money while carrying bottles of glue for sniffing, filthy dirty and covered in glue stains.  I had heard of people eating and foraging in garbage dumps.  But I thought that happened in ghettos and slums and away from the site of the average person.  What I saw instead today was vendors throwing their culled, rotted and ruined vegetables unsuitable for sale into a ditch and then the women scrambling to pick out the good leaves and stalks they could make a soup stock with or perhaps a vegetable dish for their children.  The stench of the ditch was overwhelming.  It was a ditch filled with tons of rotting vegetables.  Deep and disgusting.

Pray for me, as I discern God’s plan for the miserably poor and the plight of women here in Africa.  I am not foolish enough to think that I need to go on a crusade for the women here.  I do believe I need to understand how to communicate to men who come to the Lord and those that already love the Lord that  we are all equal in Christ.  That if the slave the Scythian and barbarians were all with us as one in Christ then certainly our wives, mothers and daughters need to be loved and respected with the same love of Christ.  With dignity and compassion.  As the biblically weaker vessel.  I have no idea what this will look like.  Pray that I learn to effectively and biblically address this and the myriad of other cultural issues I will face.  I do NOT want to westernize the Church here.  I believe that God has a wonderful unique plan for African’s to glorify God in a way only they can do.  But I am convinced that can be done while honoring what God honors.  The least of these.  You know like you and me.

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One response

31 08 2012
Pat Roseberry

I don’t know what to say. It breaks my heart that women are treated so badly and not loved “as Christ loved the Church.” It is not possible for me to comprehend life like that since I have been loved, protected and cherished by your father. I pray that as all people are saved from the evils of this world that they will learn to live and love as Jesus taught. May we all love Jesus and love like Jesus. Love you. Mom

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