Moi's Milk: 4th February 2020
Today, the former President of Kenya, Daniel arap Moi died. He has been a prominent feature of Kenyan life for many decades and how we feel about him, his era and legacy are not simple but multi-layered.
Today in class we discussed this. We talked about memories, experiences, and impressions of a man who has had a profound influence on Kenya since Independence to the present day.
Some remembered ‘maziwa ya Nyayo’ or Moi’s Milk; the name for the twice a week delivery of free milk to all children in schools across Kenya. For children mostly too young to understand the complex nuances of political life, children appreciated the milk and took it as a sign that their President cared for them.
This feeling largely endured despite the darker periods of President Moi’s rule. His benevolence to children is remembered above all else.
Nearly everyone wrote quite factual pieces today; unusual in our increasingly creatively confident class.
One student, QXT, a Chinese national, had no idea who Moi was, or what his passing means for Kenyans. Q has never travelled around Kenya and only knows what she has heard from other inmates. She listened to the class discussion about Moi’s Milk and what Mzee Moi's death means to them and wrote the following piece with her characteristic economy of language.
Milk From Nowhere
The boy carries a bucket. He has walked for three miles. The sun is hot and the boy is thirsty; his lips already dry. He looks at the bucket. He hasn’t found water yet. It is too far to go home now.
His mother has been sick for a month. Other people in the village have moved away. They would know where he could find water, but they are gone.
He looks at the sky, hoping for a cloud, but there is none.
He cannot leave his mother any longer. The boy turns back.
He does not know what he will do.
After some time, a car stops beside the boy in a cloud of dust.
‘Hello boy,’ the driver says.
The boy looks at him.
‘Do you know the way to the station?’
‘Yes,’ the boy points. ‘That way for 5 or 6 miles from here.’
‘Thank you,’ the man answers.
He sees the empty bucket in the boy’s hands.
The man reaches into his bag. He finds a packet of milk and gives it to the boy.
As the man drives away, the boy looks at the milk and smiles.
Creative writing class from Langata Women's Prison, Kenya