By Nicholas Drayson
For three years, widower Mr Malik secretly loves Rose Mbikwa, chief of weekly chook walks. Quiet Malik is extraordinary just for his cautious combover. Malik is determined to invite Rose to the Nairobi Hunt membership Ball (premier Kenyan social event), until eventually his institution nemesis, flashy jokester Harry Khan, competes for Rose. A guess is determined.
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Extra resources for A Guide to the Birds of East Africa
Ethnographic evidence from the late nineteenth century onward further clariﬁes how central Kenyans tied health and prosperity to procreative relations. The formation and growth of households, lineages, and clans, the basic units of social organization in the region, centered on the axiom that “people are wealth” (antu ni utonga). In equating people with wealth, central Kenyans spoke of intertwined material and moral imperatives. ”40 To secure dependents who could perform these tasks, people pursued a range of strategies.
48 Merus were not alone in this belief. 50 Further aﬁeld, in the Ovambo kingdoms of colonial Namibia and in the Bemba chiefdoms of colonial Zambia, both places where female initiation did not usually include genital cutting, people also believed that pre-initiation pregnancies threatened the living. 51 Both oral and ethnographic documentary sources agree that in Meru some girls became pregnant before they were initiated. 52 Women and men recalled that the sexual relations which resulted in pre-initiation pregnancies usually occurred at dances that 34 / Chapter 1 circumcised men and uninitiated girls attended in the years prior to marriage.
In 1925 two colonywide 28 / Chapter 1 reports singled out Meru for its low birthrate. The Acting Governor wrote in one that the district suffered from low population growth and high “infantile mortality . . ”20 Whereas in other areas of central Kenya female initiation took place prior to puberty, in Meru it was a prenuptial rite. Initiation and marriage in Meru usually followed the onset of puberty by ﬁve or more years, creating a period when girls were sexually mature but unexcised. Colonial officials observed that as “custom” shunned conception prior to initiation, unexcised girls who became pregnant obtained abortions.