A Children's birthday party with Nyama Choma

nyamajomaPatrick, a soon to be public prosecutor whom I met in Nairobi 8 years ago when he was still a law student, invited me to his son's birthday. Little Ian turns 4. His grandfather picks me up and drives me the 45 minutes to Nakuru, the next bigger city near Nyahururu. I arrive early and am allowed to assist in the slaughter of the sheep that will be put on the grill to celebrate the day, a real Nyama choma. It is expected that the older boys also help, after all, they need to know how to do this once they’re grown up. Gradually, relatives, friends and neighbours arrive. While the men gather around the grill with some beer, the children play around the newly built house and the women work in the kitchen. After a while, some selected pieces are taken from the fire, chopped, and served as a snack to the children. Little Ian is happy about the ball I brought with me, and he’s sincerely convinced that my name is Mzungu. Mzungu is the Swahili word used to denote a white person; literally, it means ‘strange’. Then comes the meal: sheep meat with rice, and carrot and pea vegetables. Of course, also Ugali is served. The men remain around the fire and since my first name is increasingly difficult to pronounce at the late hour, I am unceremoniouslyrenamed to Kamau, a common local name. So I received two new names in one day.