Archive for May, 2011

My Village Diary 2 – “I used my cellphone to inform my neighbor that my wife was very ill”

May 31, 2011

May 31, 2011

Using cellphones in a small village in south eastern Kenya…

The story of Musyoki

Last Saturday, I invited my neighbor, Musyoki, over for lunch to catch up but mostly to hear about his late wife and brother. Musyoki’s mother was our nanny who took care of me and my siblings when we were growing up here in the village. He told me that his wife, Safina, had been ill for a while. “They said she was diabetic.” When I saw her last May, she looked fine but she told me she was unwell. I never knew that was the last time I would see her.

This is what musyoki told me about the death of Safina:

 “One day I came home from work and found her seriously ill in bed. She asked me to give her water to drink. I gave her and then I called my friend in the market and asked him to loan me some money to buy my wife some glucose and orange juice. When I came back, my wife’s condition had  deteriorated. At 5 AM the following day, I phoned my friend and asked him to call a bodaboda (local motorbike taxi) to rush her to the hospital. My friend phoned the bodaboda and we rushed my wife to the hospital. She was treated and admitted in the hospital for three days. Unfortunately her condition got worse and on the third day she died. I was there when she died. I had gone to the hospital early in the morning to give her some porridge. But she was too weak to drink .  She died in my hands. I covered her and went to call the doctor. I immediately phoned my neighbor to tell him the bad news. My neighbor then phoned other neighbours and family and mobilized them for funeral arrangements. When I went to the hospital to collect my wife’s body, they refused to release her because I owed the hospital a fee of 1200 kenya shillings (about 13 Canadian dollars). I phoned my friend and asked him to loan me some money to pay the hospital and for funeral arrangements. Another neighbor who heard about the death phoned me, and he offered to buy the coffin. I was very happy. With the help of the neighbours we managed to organize a decent funeral for my wife. I miss her very much”

My wife phoned me and asked me to come home immediately

I asked Musyoki to tell me about his late brother. His brother had “disappeared” for 20 years. He left the village in search of a job and came back home after 20 years, very ill. This is what Musyoki told me:

“I was at work, one day. My boss told me that my wife had called him and asked him to let me go home immediately because something urgent and important had happened. My boss gave me some money and allowed me to go home for two days. I left at 5 a.m and by 6 a.m When I arrived home I found my wife waiting for me outside, she told me she had very good news, my brother who had disappeared for 20 years, had returned home. I couldn’t believe it. I went to the bedroom and I woke him up. He was the one, my own brother. I was shocked but very happy. My wife made some tea and we all sat and had brieakfast together.

What did he tell you? I asked…

“He told me that when he left home he found a job at a farm. After 5 years he found another job in Nairobi. While in Nairobi, he met a woman with whome they moved from the city to another village. They lived together and had 2 children. The wife refused him from coming back home. After many years he became ill and started thinking about home. He hid from the wife and ran away. He took a matatu (public bus) and came to machakos (a town about 50kilometres from our village). He did not have money so he was stranded at the bus station. A neighbor noticed him and offered to pay for him and bring him home. When they arrived at the local market they phoned other neighbours who gathered and brought my brother home. I was very happy to be reunited with him after many years. But after a few months, he died of the illness. I phoned my neighbours and they supported me to make the funeral arrangements.

I listened to these two sad stories and consoled Musyoki. I assured him that I shared his grief and that I will be there for him and always pray for him. Then I wanted to know how he his doing these days and what he is up to. He told me life goes on and that he had some good news to tell me. I asked him to share the good news…

 I felt alone and lonely, I phoned my cousin and she organized a date for me…”!”

“After my wife and my brother left me, I felt alone, lonely and afraid. (His mother – our nanny- died 6 years ago and his father and other siblings died several years ago).  One day I phoned my cousin and told her to find for me a girlfriend. She arranged for me to meet her friend. I saw her and fell for her. We exchanged phone numbers, continued calling and meeting. One Sunday evening, two months ago, she phoned me and told me she was coming home. I thought she was coming to visit as usual, but she brought her suitcase, she moved in! I did not have breakfast  and I did not want her to know I was broke, So I excused my self and walked afew metres frrm home to call my friend for a small loan. He understood my situation so he brought me some money immediately. Early in the morning, I went to the market and bought sugar, tea and bread for breakfast. My new love was impressed. I thank God that I phoned my friend and he helped me….”

I congratulated Musyoki and we had a long laugh…


My Village diary – cellphone communication in a village in Kenya

May 30, 2011

May 30, 2011

I am in a remote village-Kandula- on the hills of mbooni, south eastern Kenya. Am here on vacation, to visit family and reconnect with the village folks. Life here is pretty much laid back, nothing much to do, so I have time to blog. I have a netbook, wireless internet connection, a camera and a cellphone. These gadgets are unnecessary while on vacation but I need to stay connected to share stories from the village. I am particularly curious to find out how village folks are using cellphones – literally every household has a cellphone – and what social changes and trends are emerging here in the village, if any, due to the increasing use of cellphone. I want to do a random research – none scientiefic – just by observing and listening to stories on how cellphones are being used here in the village. I will also share my own experience on how I am using my local cellphone.

I used the cellphone to find out about the possibility of re-charging my netbook at the local market.

My netbook battery lasts 2hours. There is no electricity in my father’s house. He uses solar operated battery for lighting and to run the radio and TV. The battery and solar panels he is using are not big enough to generate enough power to charge extra electronic gadgets. There is electricity in the local market, about 1.5 kilometers away. I therefore bring the netbook to the market for recharge at 25 cts.

My first phone call today was to a friend who owns a shop there. I wanted to find out if the power was back since there was a blackout most of yesterday. It was back so my father took the netbook for recharge.

I used my cellphone to catch up with 90-year-old grandpa

 My second phone call was to my 90-year old grandpa. He has had the cellphone for 3 years now. I wanted to inform him that I was around and I will visit him before I head back to the city. I also chatted with grandma who is eager to see me. Though it was not a face-to-face communication, it was a great way of re-connecting since last vacation – last May.

I also phoned a neighbor who manages several community development projects here in the village. I wanted to let her know that I am around and would like to meet her to discuss the village projects.

My father phoned a neighbor today to let him know that a pipe supplying water to his home was broken and that it was going to be repaired and water would be supplied later in the day. The water project is owned and sustained by the local community with little support from the government. Friends of mine also supported the project by supplying pipes to the various homesteads in the village. The water is pumped from the central tank every once or twice a week to the homesteads where it is stored in tanks for home use. Usually, the village folks are informed via cellphones when the water will be supplied or incase of breakages in the piping system.

Connecting with family and friends in the city

 My brother who works in the city (Nairobi), is also here in the village on vacation. He phoned his boss today to discuss work.

My brother has also been calling everyday to check on his daughter and his wife.

I used my cellphone to buy chicken!

Yesterday I needed to buy chicken, so I informed a neighbor who then phoned another neighbor and he brought over the chicken to negotiate for the price. I bargained and settled on a good price!

This morning my brother also phoned a newspaper vendor in the local market to find out if the daily newspapers had been delivered from the city. He ordered for one and picked it later in the day

Using cellphone to mobilize support in times of need or grief

Yesterday I was chatting with another neighbor about the loss of his wife and his brother. He mentioned how he used the cellphone to inform neighbours and friends and to mobilize for support and to make arrangements for their funerals. I will blog about it tomorrow…may be!

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