Zipporah Boen decorating gourds with designs that fit the Kalenjin touch to preserve Nandi culture
Written by Emily Chelagat
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Mrs. Zipporah Boen in her shop. [photo| Emily Chelagat| West FM]
Nandi, Uasin Gishu County: A 66 year old grandmother from Belekenya village, Kosirai Division in Nandi County has come up with traditional house entitled Africa Kalenjin kotab gaa meaning the kalenjin home which is a traditional house meant for preservation of Nandi culture.
Mrs. Zipporah Boen is passionately working with her daughter to preserve Nandi culture for the present and future generations, by collecting and decorating guards with designs that fits the Kalenjin touch.
She narrates that some ten years ago, she started collecting guards for wedding ceremonies and within the shortest time possible the demand was so high that she had to assemble old and middle aged women to make the gourds and traditional attire in large number to serve the community.
The community around requested her to make them traditional attires to be worn by boys and girls during circumcision rites of passage after the demand surpassed her own collection.
Gogo says she came up with the idea after realizing that most families have left touch and possession of their traditional homes, utensils artifacts and many others.
She then decided to come up with an African traditional home setting due to rapid change in lifestyle and urbanization in the country.
She explains the families are still retreating to the villages when it is time to perform the rites and have to scramble for the few remaining artifacts at “Gogos” place in Mosoriot.
As if that is not enough Gogo – Mosoriot as commonly known started displaying her products and selling sour milk (mursik) at Mosoriot centre on market days and now she cooks the traditional ugali “ kimietab kipsongik’ meaning wheat ugali.
She says the demand increased within no time and reached an extend that forced her to open a full time shop at the trading centre selling sour milk, gourds, traditional Nandi attires for both boys and girls, women, men and other cultural artifacts.
“The traditional dress is made from skins and hides of goats/sheep and calves and the items are also available for hire for functions,” she added.
Gogo is in the process of building a traditional Nandi home complete with a residence hut, cow shed, barn and many others that will be used to teach the young generation on the importance of preserving the centre.
Mrs. Zipporah Boen at work
She further explained that currently her customers mainly come from the local community with a few people from hotels and learning institutions.
Gogo has a daughter and granddaughter who actively engage in what inspires her, cultural preservation for posterity.
Lena Boen a 45 year old secretary working with a governmental development agency, but that doesn’t water down her passion, learnt the traditional crafting of the gourds from her grandma “Taprandich nebo arap Terer” meaning wife to Terer at the age of 9 when she taught her the secret of the Kalenjin craft to improve them with designs with a Kalenjin touch.
She buys gourds from Kitui and kikombaa market in Nairobi in all shapes and sizes and beads and shells from kariokor market then do the crafting and sewing in her house during the evening after office hours.
In her residence she holds various collections of products with various designs and decorations.
The three says the Kalenjin culture has not yet been fully explored and they intend to do that to bring out the rich hidden Kalenjin culture to benefit the community.
The Kalenjin home is situated on the outskirts of Mosoriot trading centre in Nandi County along Eldoret –Kapsabet road 40 km from Eldoret town