Mama Chameleon

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Kenya Safari #9: Security

(Keep in mind that this safari depicts how security was for us in the 80's . We left Kenya in 1990.)

In Kenya we were considered wealthy.

Poverty and desperation drove some to (often violent) thieving, so we had to secure our property.

Growing up in our various homes in Kenya, I remember high walls surrounded our compound with broken glass cemented in.

Our gates were covered with metal plates so as not to allow visibility through into our compound, similar to this pic below, though as I recall our gates had metal spikes poking through.

A good barking dog was always a deterrent. Our guard dogs were nothing like the cute little things that yap bravely at us from behind the safety of screen doors in many Australian homes. I remember being so surprised to learn that there were actually breeds that came so small.

I was used hulking German shepherds, Golden Retrievers and other (Mom and dad, was Hershey a Rhodesian Ridgeback?) large dogs. They were trained to protect us and they did a good job.

But I think my favorite protection had to be our security guards. The guards we hired were rural Samburu and Redilli tribesmen who had come to the city to earn money.

They exchanged their tribal clothes and way of life for modern clothes (like the man leaning on the gate a couple pictures back) and a hard life of sleeping in the day and working all night.

I remember Dad came up with a couple of ideas to help our guards stay alert. One idea was a clock (or was it two- one on either end of the compound?) he ajusted so that every 15 minutes the guard could pencil a mark onto a piece of paper set in behind the clock face (or not). The next day the paper would be replaced and Dad could see how protected we had been that night.

Another idea was the hand-cranked cassette recorder. By winding the handle, the cassette player worked, and at night I often heard the whir of the handle as the guard did his rounds. The one in the picture below is similar, but Press Me to see one exactly like the one our guards used.

What else fascinated me about our guards?

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingFirst- They had such wonderful smiles. (this picture was kindly allowed by the very talented and much-travelled Tom Cockrem of Australia. Actually Tom, in your gallery I found a pic of a woman selling tourist items that I unwittingly borrowed for a previous safari. Oh dear, I am sorry.)

Second- Their earholes!

All our guards had massively distended earholes from having larger and larger implements shoved through to stretch them over a period of years.

Their ears swung as they walked! And to keep them out of the way, sometimes they would loop the overhang back over the ear itself.

My personal favorite was weekend washing day, when the guard would hang his socks out to dry, through his ear holes!!

Three-Another fascinating weekend event for our guards was their customary cookup. The guys must havefound it hard to be away from their families and familiar food.

City cuisine would not have been what they were used to. So sometimes on the weekend, the greasy smell of burning flesh wafted into our nostrils and we knew it was 'cook up the goat's head and feast on every inch of it' time!

Finally- their weapons.

These guards each had a large stick, a whip, a short truncheon, and a panga, which is like a machete (I thought there was more. Was there? Robby?)

So this was my pleasant post of being protected. Next time I will regail you with tales of when all our security measures either failed or turned on us!!

Posted by michelle :: 9:29 am :: 8 comments links to this post

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