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Dear Friends,


9.45pm I got a message; ‘Jim, the pastor wants to talk to you. He has work for you for tomorrow’. At the time, we were reading a story with the older children in Swahili. I called him at 10.00 p.m. ‘Golo dala Ulumbi kiny sa achiel,’ he told me. I agreed to go.


My alarm woke me at 6.00 a.m., and by 6.30 a.m. I was on my way. A half hour’s cycling (through a lot of mud), there was an old man waiting for me on the side of the road. ‘Come up here,’ he said, and we walked up a hill to a large but mostly empty and derelict homestead. There followed about 40 minutes ‘sitting around’ chatting, waiting for every-one to appear and prepare. Then, about 10 of us men were ready. I was asked to pray before we started the ‘walk’. Then the oldest man led the way, followed by the oldest son of the late[1] whose home was being started. We walked in single file. The ‘son’ carried a cockerel under his arms. We walked a few hundred yards into a field, where a few other people were already gathered around some plastic chairs.


Members of the local Anglican church, three of them, headed up the dolo. (I was there for my home church. I was happy for them to lead the dolo. Dolo, is something like ‘ritualling’, i.e. prayers.) Two of them dressed in clerical gowns. They followed the Luo translation of the common book of prayer, for the appropriate prayers and Bible readings for starting a new home, plus a short homily. We left our seats and walked to the site at which the first house of the new homestead would be built for the widow. We blessed the site with prayers. As we finished, one of the old men raised an objection: there shouldn’t have been a cockerel! Even when he started his home, they did not carry a cockerel! The Anglicans muttered in agreement. Carrying of the cockerel was a move back towards ancient Luo traditions.[2]


As I was tying my bag onto my bike back in the original homestead ready to go, I was told not to leave until I had some breakfast. I didn’t argue with that. I had a cup of sweet tea with bread and margarine.


Please pray for my anticipated visit on Monday 1st May to the immigration office in Kisumu, in anticipation of getting my next three-year work permit.


Give thanks for a good day last Saturday. I had twelve visitors at home, five American Mennonite missionaries, plus seven Coptic Egyptian missionaries. See photographs attached, visiting our local waterfall.


[1] The son of the home had died in the 1980s. His wife and children (and children of the men who had inherited his wife) were now starting a new home in his name.

[2] The requirements for starting a new home in Luoland are very detailed and very complicated. They are connected to following ancestral taboo to avoid being haunted. Since people have become Christians, they have purposefully put many of the ancient practices aside. One of those was the requirement that the oldest son should carry a cockerel. Carrying a cockerel on this occasion showed a lack of faith in Christ. It also ‘threatened’ others who had started their homes without one, by implying that what they had done was deficient. 

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