The Elder of Miambani

October 23, 2014

Kitui, Kenya Partnership

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His father was the pioneer of the village, establishing the African Independent Church.  John Maithya Ilandi, now 71 years old, came back to Miambani, Kitui, Kenya, after teaching history in Mombasa until he was 55.  Married with 11 children, 24 grandchildren and one great grandchild, he is now very active in St. Mary’s Catholic Parish, heading up their local Catholic Men’s Association.  In talking history and politics with him, one notices that the Kenyans realize they are a third world country, but are very proud of the way things are progressing, albeit very slowly! He could tell us more about George Washington than we could tell him about Jomo Kenyatta, the Father of Kenya.

In 1972, when he returned from Mombasa, he built the finest, most modern house in the village, even with a solar electric generator.  He has a very small television, but it cannot be watched until he is able to add a battery to his solar collector. John and his wife, Joyce Maithya, proudly showed us the family compound where two of his brothers and some of the children also have small houses.  The living room was surrounded with the typical basic sofas draped with white covers that are beautifully embroidered.  As we visited, many of the family stopped by to welcome us.  While they may not have much, Kenyans are very generous; and it was very important for them to send us off with something. So as we visited, the daughter-in-law walked into the village to buy coke for us to take back to the Parish house.

It was comical that often when we introduced ourselves as “Marcie Peach” and “Bob Peach” that people thought we were brother and sister because we both have the same last name.  In Kenya, the surname of the wife and children is the first name of the husband/father. John is his Christian name, as his name at birth was Maithya Ilandi. So the husband and wife never have the same last name.

Our getting to know John and his family … as well as renewing and deepening friendships of the other Kenyans we had met before … certainly reflected the purpose of the partnership.   We may live radically different lifestyles, these Kenyans and us Americans; yet the hopes and dreams, faith and family, politics and patriotism are the very same.

 

Marcie Peach