The scouts I met did not have the capability to raise lots of money to do cool things like go to week long summer camps, trek across untouched wilderness, and build expensive monuments for historic events that are only historic because there is now a monument as we do in the US. They still had the same drive to learn scouting survival skills and enjoy entertaining each other with skits and songs, but there was something different. The songs they were singing were all new, written for specific needs and challenges in their community. One group of patrols was asked to come up with a song to sing to the President and Primeminister to ask them to settle the Internally Displaced People affected by post election violence. Another group of songs was about protecting the Mao Forest from deforestation due to development. Others had different environmental and peace related messages. They created the songs and skits right there! No regurgitating answers or copycatting. These guys made up new material just for these worthy messages.
It changes my understanding of the Kenyan school system a bit. Until now, I have only seen students looking for the "right" answer to give back to the teacher so they can pass the exam and move on to the next grade. I have been complaining that the tests (much like standardized tests in the US) make creativity a nuisance. Teachers only teach what is in the book and most students memorize the answers with out ever understanding why the Pythagorean theorem works or why what goes up must come down. I think it is much worse in Kenya than the US because teachers here are paid less than domestic workers. Teaching gives you such leadership and responsibility in the community, but not the financial appreciation from the government.
In any case, these kids were great. They were disciplined yet funny, caring and compassionate. The adult leadership was pretty hard on them, but that is what I have come to expect from adults in authority in Kenya... In any case, I enjoyed getting to meet over three hundred youth involved in the event. I also sang them a song from my boyscout camp: Ransburg. I sang them a song that was not in English, Kiswahili, Kikuyu, Arabic, or any other language as so to not put anyone at the advantage of understanding the song:) It is a repeat after me song. Here are the words:
FLEE FLY FLOW
KUMALADA KUMALADA KUMALADA VISTA
OHH NO NO NOT THE VISTA
EENY MEANY DESAMINY OWALAWALAMINY
HEXAMINI SOLAMINY OOWALOWA
It was great to hear their kikuyu accent try to pronounce the "L's" :) They didn't get the last part AT ALL!
To see all photos from this trip, visit my facebook album here.