Thursday, May 1, 2014

News from Nairobi

By James Chege
Maryknoll Institute of African Studies
Editor: Father Michael C. Kirwen, Director

Celebrations at MIASMU

Students and field assistants in a group discussion share their newly discovered insights. The carving is that of elder shucking corn – a metaphor of intellectual harvesting.
Students, field assistants, staff and faculty at the Maryknoll Institute of African gathered on April 14 to mark the end of the second semester of the academic year. The final-day celebration has become a special tradition at MIASMU where everybody comes to reflect and share classroom and field-work experiences of the past 12 weeks.

The day began with the students and field assistants discussing what is currently a hot topic  in Kenya, namely, the newly passed marriage bill which legalizes polygany, while the faculty met in their final meeting of the semester.
Students and field assistants listen attentively to the faculty presentation.s

After a coffee break, the entire group gathered for presentations from each faculty member who gave brief overviews of their courses to encourage students to not only understand the value of the course but also to consider taking it in the next term. After each presentation the lecturer was presented with a gift by one of the students as a token of appreciation for their hard work in teaching and guiding the students.

John Kamanga, a student from the Maasai community, gives instructions to Father Michael Kirwen on the proper use of the spear given to him by Father Simon Kaire.

A surprise gift was in store for the program director and founder. A special spear was presented to him by one of the students, a diocesan priest of 30 years, Father Simon Kaire. The spear originally belonged to his grandfather and was presented to him on his ordination in 1984. The 10-foot spear or itimū in Kikuyu Language is a sign of power, unity, identity and civility among the Kikuyu people, and was used during initiation into adulthood/elderhood ceremonies and as a weapon to drive off evil. It also holds significance as it was carried by the warriors in the community.

During the special presentation, Father Simon indicated that he wished to give the spear to Fr. Michael in recognition of his work in the program and as a sign of gratitute for the wisdom and encouragement he had been given during his stay at MIASMU.

The celebration concluded with a special banquet featuring chicken, nyama choma (roasted
goat meat, a most prized delicacy in Kenya), and ugali (thickly boiled maize flower).