Dana

Dana

/dah,nah/

noun

Dholuo word for grandmother. The mother of your mother or your father. (In Kendi’s case, the mother of your mother, because the mother of your father is known as cucu)

Kendi and her grandmother, my mother, have a very interesting relationship. I’m not sure what they do when they’re alone but when me or Martin go to pick up the baby, they’re both happy, fed, dry and clean. So, we can only imagine. I asked mum one time, ‘what do you guys do?’

She didn’t even skip a beat, ‘fun things.’ Oh well.

A few weeks ago, we were traveling to Tanzania for my cousin Wam’s Tanzanian wedding reception. Because we were planning on traveling by road, we didn’t feel that it was necessary to subject Kendi to a journey that ended up taking 17 hours. So we asked Kendi’s dana how she was planning on traveling. ‘By air, I can’t do that journey, my body can’t take it’. ‘OK, so you’ll travel with Kendi then?’ we asked, ‘Of course, we’ll have so much fun.’ There was that word again, fun.

And that’s what we did. We traveled together for about 4 hours by bus, dropped them off at the airport in Arusha, Tanzania and they flew to Dar the rest of the way. Before they got off the bus, I asked mum, thinking I was being very clever, ‘So ma, what do you know about Kendi?’ She answered, ‘She needs food and water, sometimes she needs to poop and then get changed. Sometimes she needs to sleep. She likes Rispah (her cuddly white duck).’ My cousin Franklyn who was also on the bus, overheard the conversation and laughed, ‘period’, he added. There was nothing else to it.

I turned to Martin and said, ‘she’s raised 3 children, me being one of them, what am I anxious about?’ My dear husband, in all his pragmatic glory answered, ‘nothing’. Sigh.

When we met, the following morning, because when we got to Dar they were already asleep, I asked mum, ‘so, how was the trip? What did you guys do? Did the baby cry? What did you eat? What did she think of the plane?’

‘We had a whole lot of fun. Chilling by the pool, drinking yogurt and juice, taking a nap, petting a cat. Lots of fun.’ That was the entirety of her answer.

Oh dana! And now, she’s asked me to drop off the baby for a sleepover. But she wants Mueni, Kendi’s nanny, to go too. More fun in store I suppose.

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