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The Flying Kid
Orville Boyd Jenkins

In the mid-80s I worked in the Rift Valley of Kenya with the Keekonyokie tribe of the Maasai people. This was a newly-developing area the government had opened this up for "group ranches."  This previously-uninhabited area had once been set aside for hunting blocks.

As the Rift Valley population grew, and the desert encroached in continuing droughts, the government had reallocated this land to assist the Maasai in managing grazing areas for their people, and also in settling down, adding agriculture into their traditional herding lifestyle.

Dusty Rivers
Most of the year it was dry and dusty, and the track roads and "rivers" were filled with soft, white dust, which hid holes, like water hides potholes in the flooding rain.

My young sons Kevin and Gareth would sometimes go out with me. Once when a group of us were riding on one of the dusty tracks out there we had an unusual experience. Another person was driving a Peugeot station wagon, and a carload of us, Europeans and Maasai, were raising a white soda-ash dust cloud as we drove along, like a Texas dust storm blowing in the wind.

There was a rack on the top, as there is on most Peugeots in Africa, and 8-year-old Gareth and some other young fellows were up there. Suddenly the front of the car dropped down and we stopped moving, when one wheel fell into one of those hidden holes in the ruts.

The Flying Kid
The car suddenly stopped dead in its tracks.  We saw a dusty bundle fly over the hood and land in the dusty river road in front of us, splashing up another great cloud of dust. I could discern it was Gareth as he rolled a couple of time head over heels before he stopped with his face down in some sticks in the road.

We all got out to check, and he was already rousing himself and trying to stand up. When we got there, we found him trying to clean off the dust from his glasses with his shirt tail. The only thing that got hurt was his glasses, badly scratched where they protected his eyes from one of those sticks, apparently, for which I had a sudden rush of helpless praise.

The situation was pretty primitive out there. We had many experiences which it would take a long time to write down. That was the worst incident, I think, that we had with one of the kids.


1 August 2000

Orville Boyd Jenkins, EdD, PhD

Copyright ã Orville Boyd Jenkins 2000
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