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Kenyan hospitality

March 24, 2011

Sabila and his wife Judy

One of the  things I enjoy the most about traveling is meeting fellow Christians. One of them is Daktari Sabila. He is an anesthetist at MTRH but has been given an honorary title of Doctor (Daktari in Swahili). He and Dr. Matthews worked very hard together, and he actually has a bible given to him by Matthews. Sabila invited me to church on Sunday and picked me up. During the service, he showed me the front cover of the bible which had the inscription from Dr. Matthews from over a decade ago. It was definitely a pentacostal service with a good message. Of course I was the only mzungo (singular white person) there, so it was pretty obvious who the visitor was! I also met one of the OR nurses from MTRH there. It was very nice of her to come greet me. I don’t think I would have recognized here without her OR cap and face mask!

After the service, Sabila invited me to join his family for lunch. He later admitted he “hijacked” me. Kenyan hospitality is certainly amazing. We had morning Chai tea, bread and butter, peanuts and talked for two hours about the politics of MTRH over the past decade. He certainly had some new perspective on why things had or had not progressed at the hospital. I will certainly have to give some prayer and thought about the things we talked about.

You can never take enough when you're invited to lunch!

That food alone was enough for me. But since lunch isn’t usually until 1 pm or so in Kenya, we walked around his neighborhood. He showed me all his various plots of land that he had bought in the suburbs of Eldoret which is now in reality Eldoret proper because the city has been growing exponentially. In Kenya, the groom’s family has to provide a dowry of cows or money to the bride’s family (usually around five cows). Sabila also wants to provide his children with land as an inheritance. It was interesting to see all his neighbors’ houses as well since many of them are senior doctors at MTRH. Some of them lived in the same estate (think subdivision in US lingo) directly behind the hospital with Matthews. However, most Kenyans moved out of that starter housing area, because they were renting from the hospital. In Kenya as in the US, ownership is important.

Sabila was so gracious. He said he wished he had known me when he was buying his plots of land. He said he would have bought a plot of land for me to build on when I came permanently to Kenya. The day was capped off with a huge lunch of chipati (the homemade folded burrito looking thing in the picture), rice (mchele in Swahili), mashed potatoes, sukuma wiki (green stuff in the picture) and beef stew. I went through and got a reasonable sized portion since I am really trying to lose weight (Africa is tough to do that–the amount of carbs you eat is hard to burn off unless you are a manual laborer). However, Sabila despite my protests snatched my plate back and said emphatically that I had taken way too little. He loaded the food on the plate. You can see the final result. I’m still full from that meal four days later! What a blessing to fellowship with them.


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