Inspired Words

These are the experiences of our volunteers in Kenya.

June 6: Celebrating Kerwin’s Birthday

Posted in Kenya on June 8, 2009

At 11:30 in the morning, we walk over to Rocky’s house for a Kenyan feast. For weeks, Rocky had been talking about slaughtering a goat for Kerwin’s birthday and enjoying it with all the trimmings.

Rocky owns a fairly large plot of land, which he shares with his brother and some other family members. He lives right next to Samax Inn and across the street from Ngaya School. When we get there, his friend is holding the live goat on a leash. Melissa and Kayla have already decided that they won’t watch the goat being slaughtered, so they go inside to watch TV. The rest of us gather round, while Rocky ties the goat’s legs and others hold it down. He hands Kerwin the knife and instructs him to cut the major vein in the neck.

“When should I do it?” Kerwin asks nervously.
“Now.” Rocky responds.
“What? Like now?”
“Now.” Rocky says again.

It’s almost as if the goat knows that it’s going to die, because it closes its eyes and doesn’t try to fight. Kerwin pierces the neck and I gasp in horror. The goat lets out a soft cry, its tongue falls out and blood squirts out of the vein. Holly whimpers in tears and runs inside the house to join Melissa and Kayla. I feel weak in the knees, but stay to watch the rest. After draining the blood in a metal bowl, Rocky’s brother continues cutting off the rest of the goat’s head. The whole thing lasts about three minutes. Then they skin the goat and remove the insides.

Despite the shock of watching a goat being slaughtered, I actually find the process to be clean and humane. There is also a sense of respect for the goat, as we use every part of its body, without wasting anything. Rocky’s family makes a broth by boiling the head and lungs; they barbecue the intestines and stomach; make a stew out of the meat; mix sausages from the blood and meat; and use the skin to make drums. For the first time, I try a piece of goat testicles, intestine and liver. I don’t really enjoy it, but manage to swallow.

In the kitchen, the women prepare the vegetables for the stew and salad. They also roll out dough to make chapatis – a thin and delicious piece of bread, slightly thicker than a crepe. I love that the preparation of food is as much a part of the celebration than the food itself. Everyone lends a hand in the kitchen, and the kids play soccer. After three hours, the food is ready, and we devour a feast of potatoes, goat stew, barbecued goat, salad, cabbage and chapatis. It’s one of the best meals we’ve had this entire trip, and we’re absolutely stuffed by the end of it.

When we get back to Transit, we all comment on how touched we are that Rocky’s family hosted this party for us and went to such great lengths to make us feel welcome. Kenyans truly are the most hospitable people I have ever met.

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