The Saint of Kathmandu: And Other Tales of the Sacred in Distant Lands

By Sarah Levine | Go to book overview

[III]
OBOROGI
Witchcraft in a Kenyan Village

As a child, I’d hear about Gishugu from my great-uncle Malcolm, who owned a farm there. One glass of sherry before lunch on Sunday could be enough to set him yearning for the jacarandas lining his driveway, the roses that bloomed luxuriantly all year long in beds on either side of his front door, the sweet smell of grass after a night’s rain, and the view from his veranda, unrivaled in the British Empire, so he claimed. But to me, Gishugu was just a dot on the map of East Africa in our disintegrating pre–World War I Times atlas, whose data were at best approximate. I didn’t actually go there until long after I’d grown up.

My husband and I decided to work in Kenya because, unlike Nigeria at the time, it was politically stable and we had a reasonably good chance of finishing something we’d started, and also because my husband had already spent time in the country and knew one or two potentially helpful people in high places, which meant we wouldn’t be starting entirely from scratch. After considering various possibilities in the western highlands, we chose Gishugu in Buso District for the simple reason that a few miles out from the district headquarters the Gishugu Pyrethrum Cooperative Board had an unused “camp” that they were willing to rent to us. It consisted of two brick iron-roofed bungalows, a shed, several shacks, and three pit latrines with concrete slabs. The bungalows would house us, our children, and our assistants; the shed could be used as an office; our cook, our

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