Men of Honor – and Swedish traces in Turkana

A Break Throuh

Summer of 1971. We were young and very enthusiastic. Our desire and zeal was to share about the love of God amongst the people in Belgium. We were out on the streets, had tent rallies and witnessed wherever we could. One day in the refectory of the University of Mons we met a young student from Rwanda, Evariste.

Evariste-Deborah”And you do believe that Jesus can give me something to eat if I’m hungry?” said Evariste with some defiance. – Oh yes, but wait a minute, said Kent, Birgitta’s brother! The Bible says that man shall not live by bread alone but of every word that proceeds out of God’s mouth!”. This answer and the meeting with the young Swedes was the beginning of a new chapter for Evariste. He recieved the ”Word from God’s mouth”, began to believe in the Lord Jesus and got baptised in water. After finishing his university studies as an electrical engineer in Belgium, he eventually became a key person in initiating a Christian youth movement in Rwanda and got involved in spreading the word of God in his own country and many other countries in Africa. He and his family eventually moved to Nairobi, Kenya, where we met again after many years in 1990.

Deborah and Evariste came to Loki to hold a week’s seminar for 30 women and 30 men. The teaching about ”Men of Honor” and  ”Godly Women” , some very relevant subjects, arose a great interest and was extremely well received by the participants. The last gathering when the groups were mixed, offered may good laughters and comments as some pertinent issues were also discussed such as sex and intimacy. And many would come after the sessions and ask: When are Evariste and Deborah coming back?”

Undervisning

It was truly a wonderful time for us to have Deborah and Evariste in Loki for the seminar and to be able to continue to build on our friendship from more than 40 years! And it goes without saying that their life’s experiences, their deep knowledge and understanding of spiritual truths and inspiring ways of sharing it, was greatly enhanced and made an even greater impact because of their own cultural and ethnical background.

Bwana Risasi – Mr One Shot

Erik von Otter– I have left for Africa! This is the message that the young mother Helga Maria von Otter found on her kitchen table one grey autumn morning in Östergötland, Sweden, at the beginning of the last century. He who had traveled and left wife and two little children was Erik von Otter, a young baron and adventurer who had set out for East Africa in order to venture into coffee farming. That’s also where he met with Karen Blixen (perhaps you’ve read her book or seen the film  Out of Africa) and eventually fell in love with her, but was given cold hand.
Then came the First World War and Erik joined the King’s African Rifles, a British multi-battalion regiment. He was a very skilled shooter, hence the nick-name ”Bwana Risasi” or Mr One Shot and he was awarded the Military Cross because of his brave actions at the  Zugunatto bridge in Tanzania where they were battling against the Germans. One of the historians writes about this battle of Zugunatto:

”For conspicuous gallantry in action. In face of heavy machine gun fire he carried a wounded man on his back across the open to cover. He then returned to his machine guns, and silenced one of the enemy’s guns which had caused many casualties.”

After the war, Erik was appointed administrator of the great Turkana-district. He travelled up and down in tremendously arduous circumstances, challenging environment and harsh terrain. The British had failed to intergrate and subdue the Turkana tribe but Erik became the first white government representative to establish some kind of friendly relation with the unruly Turkana and its chiefs.

He was based in Lodwar, 220 kms from Loki. Recurring attachs of malaria gradually undermined his health and ruined his red blod cells which started showing in his dark urine. Erik von Otter died in ”Black Water Fever” in 1923, at the age of only 34. Towering on his thorn covered grave in Lodwar is a rugged, rustic cross made by another Kenyan-Swede, Mr Robert Andersen, nick-named ”Apple-Robert”. Mr Andersen was the first farmer to start growing apples in Kenya!

And on our way home from a mini-holiday at Lake Turkana in October, we had a chance to visit the grave of Erik von Otter. Having read his memoirs compiled from his diaries into the book: As Officer and Game Hunter in East Africa, it felt somewhat like a breath from days gone by as we were standing and musing at this old place of Swedish traces in Turkana!

22-DSC05694

Birgitta musing at the grave of Erik von Otters inLodwar

TFMG – Turkana Men’s Farming Group

– So many men idling here! Well this is not an unusual comment from first time visitors to Loki. And the women – well they get on with their daily chores of collecting fire wood, building the family huts, bringing up their children, trying to make sure there is something to eat at the end of the day etc. etc.

Some years ago when I was working with MAF in Juba I met a man who told me about ”Farming God’s Way” or ”Foundations for Farming” which is a method where minimal plowing, mulching and precise watering make up the basic ingredients for a successful yield. The method was developed in Zimbabwe by a farmer of a large holding.

TMFG-1So I got an idea. What if it was possible to inspire a group of Turkana men to start farming along this method. And if they in turn could coach others to do the same thing etc. At our seminar I shared my idea and gave out a small handout about ”Foundations for Farming”. Almost everyone was enthusiastic and wanted to be part of this initiative. On the Saturday following the Seminar, we went down to the water well, set out to prepare a small area of 6×6 meters and started breaking the ground, watering, shedding some goat manure and putting mais seeds into the ground. All of the men got their ratio of planting seeds and it will be very exciting to see how this intitiative will turn out. Hopefully a number of small, lush plots around Loki, producing much needed food for many families in the community!

TMFG-2

Mulching – is part of the secret for a successful farming!

Solar Eclipse and Back Problems

Solförmörkelse-1Some of you may have heard of the Solar Eclipse that hit central Africa in the beginning of November. The eclipse was next to total in Loki and many were travelling to Lake Turkana in order to get the experience of a total eclipse. With our volunteers Erik and Gunnar plus some other friends we were able to watch this fantastic phenomenon around 4 p.m. that Sunday afternoon. I still remember my first experience of a solar eclipse in 1954 when I borrowed my dad’s welding helmet in order to observe the sun. And now, some 59 years later I got to observe this wonder again in the Turkana land!

Unfortunately I didn’t get to share this experience with Birgitta who had had to travel to Nairobi in order to get medical attention for her back problem. It has turned out that bumping on the bad roads day in and day out has taken its toll. She has got a disc prolapsis and is needing to take pain killers and much care of her back for the coming months. However doctors say that it may well heal by itself, although it may take time. Something Birgitta is not looking forward to! But many have been praying and we trust and hope that the healing process will be speeded up. We anticipate a busy period again after the New Year when our son Jonas and family will come to help out for 3 months.

We have also enjoyed the visit of Birgitta’s brother Kent with wife Chrissie and their oldest Maria. Sharing the Loki experience with friends and family is something very special and on top of that having a wonderful 5 day holiday at the Kenyan coast is another mighty blessing!

With our love and Every blessing!

KeA & Birgitta

Nya tomter

New tomato seedlings in the green house

Sandlåda

Leisure activities at the school!

Gunnar och Erik

Erik Lindén and Gunnar making a waste by the kitchen water tap

Kapbord

The carpenter Martin and Evariste inspecting the accessory which I made for the small wood saw machine. This is where desks and cupboards for the school will be prepared.

Läshunger

Hungry to read – Evariste and Deborah brought small booklets in Turkana language for the children. Ngakiro Naajokak means ”The Good News”

Man tager vad man haver

You use whatever you have in order to shelter yourself!

Laståsnor

Donkeys from the country side in town for replenishing of supplies

Turkanasjön1

En route to Lake Turkana by one of nature’s wonders

Söndag vid poolen

Sunday by the pool

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