There are some few things that I am most certain that will not go away with age (for me) that is: random travels and photography and chocolate and snoozing…the list is endless, but just for today let me tell you about my random travel and photography fetish. I met Ivy on those random meetings at the Alchemist and she shared with me this idea she was starting, of selling traditional baskets (kiondoos) and it really got my attention so we agreed the next time she would be going to Tala in Machakos County she would tell me and I could take some pictures for her.
Kiondoo making is one of the African crafts that I admire and respect. Kiondoo is a Bantu name for a handwoven basket that was used by women to carry a load. They range in different sizes depending on one’s use for it. Growing up, I remember my grandmother was in a chama that made Kiondoos and they would sell them to tourists and also supply to the city. In the making of the Kiondoos, they would sing folk songs and everyone would stand up and dance a funny dance that would leave most of them if not all in stitches. I dreamt of the day my hands would be strong enough to roll sisal and be part of these fun loving ladies.
Well, my grandmother grew old and I developed other interests but I knew my random travel affairs will land me in a Kiondoo making community in Kenya where I would document it all. It seemed like forever before Ivy reached out to tell me when the next visit will be and I was too excited to complain about going to Tala the next day. She picked me at Ruai and we used the Ruai by-pass to get to Tala then connect to Kinyui in Kangundo.A warm welcome was given to us by cucu Ruth (Ivy’s grandmother) together with Sunshine and Skiza (they are such beautiful dogs).
The ladies making the Kiondoos had not arrived yet and so we decided to stop by the neighbour’s place to take some amazing pictures. Believe me when I tell you that this is not your ordinary neighbour; apparently this couple had this vision of building a castle in Ukambani land but then they could not complete it because their money ran out and their children no longer lived in there so it is mostly abandoned with just a caretaker and a few domestic animals.
The scenery was too appealing to walk away from and thank God for Ivy’s ability to speak in Kamba because the caretaker told us to knock ourselves out; and we did. One thing that kept pulling me to stay was the serenity. We had so much fun that Buji (Ivy’s cousin) had to call us because the ladies had arrived a long time ago but which one of us was looking at the time?
I finally got to interact with the Kiondoo Mamas (their new nickname) and I have got to tell you, their positive energy makes your heart swell not to mention their laughter and their jokes (I can hear some big chunk of Kamba but can’t speak fluently) over a heaped plate of muthokoi (a staple food in Kamba land). As we took photos of them, they would insist that we only take pictures of them smiling because they are happy people indeed.
After a few hours of laughter and being teased, it was time to return to Nairobi with our bags full of Mangoes which I did not take a picture of because I didn’t want you all to feel jealous then you refuse to read my post. I now understand better that Kiondoo making calls for team work, keenness and an open mind to put together the best ideas that are yet to come. My hands are still not strong enough to weave baskets, but I will be documenting their craft, every chance I get. I hope to tell you one day the story about a lady I met called Nyiva.but for now; feel free to comment and share my story. Thanks for reading.
Photo credit: MJ Kawira (Binti Diaries); @bintidiaries