It is all too easy to equate village life in places like Kenya
with some form of spiritualism, but in reality, in many respects
village life in Kenya is very much like village life anywhere in
the world in terms of routines. Get out of bed, eat breakfast,
school, work or household chores, lunch, school, work or household
chores then a period of relaxing and play for the kids maybe
football, handball or with home made toys, then evening meal and
There are of course
differences such as the ease with which this routine is carried
out. Getting washed and preparing food is more challenging in a
village in Kenya as there are no taps for running water with many
in a village having to walk 3-4 hours a day to collect this
water from shallow wells to meet their daily needs, however some
villages have a communal standpipe for water that's collected in
buckets sometimes carried using one of the children's playcarts.
Most can't pop upstairs to go to the toilet rather having to
share a communal one, often a hole in the ground with other
villagers which has implications for health, particularly that
of children, with waterborne diseases rife. Other common
illnesses include malaria and HIV/AIDS. (It is estimated that
due to disease in some villages in Kenya 25% of all children are
orphans with another 25% living with a single parent carer.) Making hot meals isn't simply a matter of turning the oven on
as only around 10% of rural Kenyans have access to electricity.
Instead, as the kitchen area of the home (which is normally constructed of
wood then finished off with mud) doesn't actually have a stove,
cooking is undertaken with charcoal or paraffin over stones on
the bare floor, with the resulting smoke permeating the entire
home, even with the windows (or rather shutters) open.
Food itself isn't available in supermarkets so the staple
diet is often meat stew when available supplemented by hoards of
rice and bread. Other popular meals include Ugali which is maize
boiled in water to a thick porridge like consistency and then
poured out onto a board or plate for everyone to dip into.
Sukuma wiki, a dish of sweet potato or pumpkin leaves and for
better off families Nyama choma which is roasted goat or
mutton meat. Additional foodstuff are bought and sold at a
weekly or sometimes bi-weekly market.
After breakfast and undertaking chores the children will set off
for school (below, left). However village schools are
rudimentary with desks, chairs blackboards and pencils but no
real equipment nor electricity. Children will attend this
village primary school until they are 13-14yrs old before taking
the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education which informs whether
they should attend high school or go onto training.
the reality is that most children will dropout of education at
this stage for, whilst primary schooling is free, high school is
not and its beyond the financial reach of many Kenyan villagers
costing as much as the equivalent of nine month's income every
Boys who drop out will go out to work with their fathers
whilst some girls are married off as young as 12-14yrs to reduce
the family burden. 79% of the Kenyan population live in rural
areas and around half live in poverty (less than 60p a day).
Rather than subsistence farming as in many African countries, in
many areas village men engage in the pastoral farming of cattle,
sheep, and goats particularly in the more arid regions where
camels are also raised. These animals help with transportation
as well as providing milk, blood, meat and wool/ hair for
clothes making. In Kenya the number of animals you own is
considered more important than land ownership.
However, recent droughts across the Horn of Africa have left
2.4 million Kenya villagers with food shortages
with an estimated 1.3 million in chronic need of assistance and
it is anticipated that this situation will deteriorate over the
coming years, particularly in the north of the country. This
lack of food has led to conflict in some areas as villagers find
themselves in conflict to secure grazing areas for the
livestock, with once close water supplies now sometimes more
than 12 miles distant. This video documentary charts daily life in a larger village
in Kenya with better services such as a Post Office and clinic.