Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Bibis

Bibi means 'grandmother' in Swahili. Ibra has 5 moms (one biological and 4 other wives of his father). Two of these bibis came to visit us last week. The introduction to their granddaughter went well and though Naanyuni was a little hesitant at first, she warmed up to her relatives quickly.

It's so easy to forget where you are when you live in a major city. I love the realizations that storm in when I am forced to deal with the fact that my 'family' ties here are totally other-worldly. The bibis had never before left the village, where livestock roam freely throughout their living spaces (small huts made of mud and sticks) and electricity and running water are unheard of novelties. Watching their reactions to the inventions of the past century was entertaining and they thoroughly enjoyed exploring things like the TV, computer, airplanes and the toilet. They first thought the actors on TV were speaking directly to them and asked Ibra why they were there and what they wanted. He laughed and explained the concept. I wish I had been able to speak Maa and could have listened in on all the conversations. Unfortunately, we communicated very little during the week, but smiles go a long way and there's always that phrase that bibis love to hear "Would you like some more tea?". I know that one in Swahili.

By the end of the week, the bibis seemed well settled, turning on the TV in the morning and watching Maasai gospel videos on Youtube.  And drinking tea at leisure. The first holiday they have ever had. I'm so glad I got to be a part of it.

Ibra's father called every morning and eventually called them back a couple of days early. Maybe he was getting nervous they wouldn't want to return, what with limitless hot water, entertainment, endless supplies of tea and a little grand-baby.

The bibis left feeling ever-so-proud of their son who had managed to learn so many valuable things in the city, including how to cook and take care of a baby. These are very abnormal skills for a Maasai man.

1 comment:

  1. Wow - with Rene over my shoulder - cause i called him over and said, 'you have to hear this' - wow.

    So excited about your blog, and the little window into your extraordinary life, Tree!