10 days after Kendi was born, we went for a wedding. Our friends Anita and Allan were having their utoni. Allan’s family came with gifts and livestock to ‘marry’ Anita. We had been invited about 3 weeks earlier, so we went.
When we walked in, we could tell that the guests who were already there, thought we were insane to bring our brand new baby out of the house. Some of them eventually verbalized that thought. It wasn’t anything for us to think much about. In my culture, mothers do not stay indoors with their babies for 3 months after birth, like in my husband’s culture. We had talked about that practice and I had made it clear that I did not intend to be home bound for 3 months. I had friends’ weddings to go to, out of town assignments, and church to attend. I would go and so would Kendi, because I was literally her food. Martin thought ‘hey, what’s the harm’ and agreed.
3 weeks after that, I had to go on assignment in Naivasha for 3 days. I packed up my baby, my mother who would be part time sitter and part time consultant, and we went. The participants saw Kendi during meal times and asked, ‘oh my gosh, you came with your baby? How old is she?’
‘2 and half months’ I’d reply
‘And you brought her here?’
‘Oh yes, I knew there would be babies that were born here as well’
There would be a lot of laughing and aahing after that. And it was funny. After all that, Kendi never got sick or any other thing that people are afraid will happen to newborns. I believe her high immunity as well as sense of confidence, is because she started finding out about the world immediately she came into it.
We attended Anita and Allan’s Itara a few weeks later in Thika. The same guests who were there at the first ceremony, were there again, but this time they wanted to hold Kendi and play with her. This time, they looked resigned to the idea that we went places with our baby. This time, nobody gave us any advice about staying home.