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Seeking book recommendations for village in Kenya  RSS feed

 
Jonathan Teller-Elsberg
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Location: Norwich, Vermont
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Hi all, I'm hoping I can get some advice to pass along to my brother. He's a medical doctor who recently worked a one month stint at a remote village clinic in Kenya. I'm not sure how he got connected to it, but the connection seems pretty strong and it sounds like he'll be working there again in future years. Anyhow, when he came back he told me how the situation there for the villagers is pretty dim--heavily dessertified land, scarce water supplies, the whole messed up land-base situation. For work and income, women do some basket weaving and that's about it. There's some herding going on, but on a limited scale.

So he asked me for suggestions of books that would be good for him to send to the villagers he befriended, books for info on low-tech/appropriate-tech gardening/farming/animal husbandry/water catchment/water harvesting, etc. Including homesteading stuff perhaps. But stuff should be appropriate for the situation--hot climate with seasonal rain and seasonal dry, and little to no availability for petroleum-powered or electric-powered inputs.

I already have in mind to suggest Brad Lancaster's Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands, v1 & v2, and the Humanure Handbook to my brother. What else would be good to add to the list? Please don't just suggest every cool book you ever read on permaculture and related stuff. It won't help to inundate the few literate people in the village with lots of redundant materials.

Thanks.
 
rose macaskie
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He should read Wangari Maathais books, her the green belt book and others, she is Kenyan and talks about how Kenya was before it got spoilt and she is a great hero on green things front, noble prize winner for planting trees. Politics have been a bit inflammable recently in Kenya and i don't know how much power she ended up with after the shake up, she was a polititian there, if she lost out in the shake up she wont be able to do as much as she used to for bettering the desertification in Kenya. Her name means leopard. She has been to prision for her beliefs.
  He should read all sorts of books a knowledge of how soil and plants works helps in all places i would say reaqd these forums, maybe he should ask Bill Mollison for advice who seems to have a lot of knowledge about plants in different climates. agri rose macaskie.
 
rose macaskie
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MOre if he plans to teach the kenyians wangari mathai will eat him up,  remember she is a leopardess. It is better to go and get taught by her i would  have thought. rose macaskie.
 
                          
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Maybe search for the research and publications already done in Kenya & make it more accessible? If Kenya is anything like Zimbabwe, then there's a disconnect between the academic institutions, NGOs & the average Joe. A lot of the institutions publish good stuff that just ends up lining library shelves. What I like about the local stuff is it takes local variables into account.

(I have been digging up lots of fascinating research on rammed earth structures in Zim; including a standard developed by the Standards Association of Zimbabwe that's been used by other countries as a reference yet the ave person has never heard of this technology  ... but I digress.)
 
rose macaskie
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 Kenyian Wangari Mathai has or had a big project on, that convinced local women to grow trees and plant them and earn some money for doing so.
     I must finish her book i have been too centered on internet to finish any book reading. She lays enphasis on working with the population, she did and does work with them herself but she did not just walk into a village and start to persuade them and learn from them, she was working for the government and in the end was or still is a member of parliment. She listened to their problems and also, being a woman of her times as she is, told them that they should not expect all help to come from the government they should take personal responsability for their woes. This asking people to take personal responsability is part of ideas forged by psychiatrist whose up side is that the weak become stronger and whose downside is that iit can lead to a great lack of solidarity, getting a team behind you is part of helping yourself and you can t do that without making much of your problems or the problems of the project so treating complaints as weaknesses makes people les efficient a complain is a setting o fht eproblems on the table. The other down side is badies say things like it is not my fault if i have broken the economic system with wildly irrespond¡sible professional practices you should have made sure i did not do it, and shoul dnot have fallen for my trap, it is your responsbility that i messed you up.  THat theories like this have down sides and have had an enormouse influence in our society is the reason we have changes so much it is not because the rest of the system that is also htat of the highly moral well fare state, is bad in itself. also people say lack of moral make people lazy people have to work very hard in the ¡mdern world and what about crazy religions stop people from learning except about fairly mad things. that is as tru e as that people now are immoral and lazy and crazy religiouse people are against giving the less fortunate sections of society  the education they need to be usefull to their countries.
   Wangari Mathais  remembers Kenya before our western farming turned it into a deser sh eis older and prettier than me it is annoying when some one older than you looks younger, she is smily but feirce.
    Greece and Rome expanded because they had spoiled their own soils i read in john seymours book on organica and permaculture type homesteading, so the Greeks and the Romanns could only grow wine and olives that will live in bad soils in a climate with a long dry season and so they had to find wheat elsewhere, first becomng merchants and then conquerers, which is also the,story of the british empire at least in as far as the first merchants and then occupiers of other countries goes,England is a wet country and untill now our soil has been good.
   We casucasons of europe have carried around bad farmig methods with us without meaning to and ruined her country and many others i wonde rhow much greener south america used to be. Bad farming methods being the plough, that comes if i remember right from China so lets spread the blame to China.
    Where as once only a small percentage of land was ploughed, gradually we have carried its use in to all land, laying land bare leaving it fallow and reducing the amount of vegetable material that goes into the soil, no plants, no production of vegetable matter, leavign it bare also means it wil to be eroded by the wind til there is no soil left yu find your sel fwith rock.  Bad farming practices don't matter so much in a temperate climate but it is desperately bad in a dry one.

  After applying modern farming methods in Africa using  skills we didnot pass on to the people that live in the countries, the sort of skills you pass on to your son not those you pass on to your workers, we then  aleft them with an unmanageable for them system and then we called them sillly for not managieng it. tha tis also how class ism works you make sur eyour own sons get a good education so good that once got they can turn round and alugh at the stupidity f others.
   what we did not teach them is such things as how to build up money or borrow it, that will allow you to buy expensive farm equipment, how to manage a work force and that is time consuming.
      I have read an american book or part of it, called something like The Slave.  There is  a description in it  of a man famouse for turning young useless slaves into hard working ones and he puts a lot of time into it, like he often pretends to leave for town, salddling up his horse and leaving and then creeps back and sneaks onto the feild they are working on and suddenly appears in there midst to catch them slacking if he can .
    My husband does like tricks if we are packing up after a holiday say i will be packing up and he reading but if i make myself a cup of coffe his voice will come down from the bedroom saying that i dont have time for a coffe, I run all day on the days i pack up, it is not as if i slack. It takes a bit of determination to spend hours with you ears pricked to hear what the other is up to when you are reading. He also never congratulates me, i think he thinks the way to get work is by guilt, never let a person feel pleased with themselves, about themselves, get them struggling for a bit of recognition that they will never get. I used to think he must be clever he was not very sparkling conversationally because I sort of realised he could manage peope without at all being able to work out how. He always manages to get everyone backing him up that is one of his tricks.
    This last week, after years of whatching television with him like the program or not and he always choses, i have not been accompanying him, it is time it was him who learnt what it is like to live with someone who does not help you with your activity or accompany you and does not talk to you. In spain they bully you and if i take any sort of agressive action start to preach about getting through to people with love or thrashing it out verbally, why dont they parctise what they preach, and thrashing things out is stupid, since when do people listen to scolding when their position is stronger than the scolders position.
     Trying to bring joy into the lives of others by giving therm a lot of company is what i always used to do, only to find out i bored them and created a lot of  spoilt people,  it makes me sick that they start telling me, who once tried so hard to keep everyone happy about keeping others happy by accompanying them.  Its everywhich way but lose, you give company to others and they think you are not able to amuse yourself on your own and criticise you for it, they dont think you wanted to be nice and that it cost you the loss of your own occupations. I thought he was shy had i known he was simply  much too excellent a boss i would have stopped talking, as he did not talk to me, much earlier, that is also a method of dealing with things and it was always my way in youth with others of my age not to shove myself on them if they did not want me and it worked, it was only the partnership boy freinds  business which got me throwing caution to the wind and trying when the other did not try with me. he was neither nice nor did he seem to want me to leave, he treated me like a worker you dont wan tto talk to workers they are  meant to be working but you dont want to offend them either so you are sort of smiley sometimes this means people can't read you intentions easily.

   If you dont teach people the skill sets to manage a modern farm and i know wha t htat can mean I know that my brothers in law were brought up to be bosses in no uncertain way, were taught not to get involved in trying to prove that they did their bit if there was work to be done doing chores but to get others to do it and to concentrate on being the bosses and I do see that part of being a boss is that you do need time to oversee others and to do the telephoning the buying and selling and such so it is necessary. I also  know that if you are not taught to be like that you feel too guilty to leave all the menial work to others and become no good as a boss.  i could however boss brothers and sisters, when they were children, my parents asked me to look after them, i just had no idea of that being my role with adults, so it is my belief that if you dont teach people all these things they wont be any good at managing a farm.
   We did not teach them managerial skills, often passed from father to son and then we  walked out of their country leaving them with big modern farms that  they dont know how to manage. We make them look silly as well as landing them in the soup. We left them i¡n a terrible position because our idea of teaching natives was quaint and old fashioned so while we put them in the modern world we did not give them the skill sets they would need there as well as because we ruined their soil.
    What we did is shamfull, not education more than your own sons to a high level is shamfull, it is so ego satisfying being among those who are more ignorant than you, as lords temporal an dspiritual and the like are. It is wicked to satify your ego by no thelping others to the same place as yourself. It is wicked to take a much longer education htan others and then to behave as if yu are cleverer rrather than acknowledging you longer education. your advantages.

   People with the best will in the world make mistakes and so we turn good land into desert land with our modern and efficient methods that we thought would feed the world.

    Even without being a brute about it, employing people probably does entail an awfull lot of overseeing unless you make sure you get those experienced and very good workers that do exist  though maybe on someone elses farm and that  need not be overseen.
 i remeber a friend of mine telling me that when the people she worked for shut up shop some three people came to ask for her services, they had marked out which was a good worker and came for her. A good boss spends their time keeping themselves informed, among other things go to the pub, you might learn things about the market for instance. Read the knewspaper but don't dig and sow.  agri rose macaskie.
 
 
rose macaskie
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  telerelsberg, In Kenya according to wangari Mathais book, we, the english, as well as having farming practices that created desertification, did things like take their sons off to fight in world war two, by force and on top of that we did not even bother to inform thier families when their sons died in our war. You try going  to help Kenya, the Kenyans might give you a bad reception at least some of them might. Mind you Wangari Mathais went to university in America so she might have mixed feelings about Caucasons, otherwise known as wasps, some good ones as well as bad ones, still it would be more sensible to go there asking to be taught her ways of creating a forest in Kenya than as a teacher, it would also be interesting.
    We also taught them to despise themselves or their families, normal way of converting people to christianity, we did not teach the good and the bad about themselves, we taught the bad only which is the normal way of blackening other cultures. Converting uses the techniques of  alcholics anonymous, more likely the other way round, in alcholics anonymouse as everyone knows, they decide that you would be better off totally sperated from old and bad influences i had a family member with with this problem, in the case of conversion, these bad influences are your families culture that means splitting up families which is psychologically brutal as it is also unreal about humanity, if they have bad  practices in africa say so do we, and we had far worse practices in africa than we did at home with the family whatching our every move. Read about the Belgian Congo that is the case i have read about because of the book heart of darkness, though in that book it seems that the africans were the originators of bad practises while in articles about what went on there it was the europeans who were being savages in Africa so to talk as if they were the only ones with bad practices is a straight  barefeaced lie. Hitler was a christian as were many other villans like those of south America or Yugoslavia, Spain or Italy. Hitler much as it suits us to make much of the facts that  he was interested in other cultures, the ancient german myths, hinduism, buddhism, anything which is not christian, in his writing is evidently mostly christian always mentioning  christian ideas, bought up as a catholic, if a bit lax. We caucasons have very violent and inconsiderate tendencies as do many others. 
       I did write and tell Wangari  about the Spanish way of using oaks as i thought it might interest her, long before i started to write on these forums but i did not go to teach them how to do everything. Much of arguing is a question of putting the degrees of things in there place, i know people who pretend that giving information is an equivilent to shovign information and your whole world veiw down peoples throats it is not, i know wha tit is like hai¡ving others impose on you they use threats and menaces and bribes they dont just tell you things there is a real difference. ALso there is a difference  between giving a bit of information and going to teach people things from scracht as is if they did not already have a pretty big base. It is horrible bbeing treated as if you were a four year old who did not know any basics, i have experienced it when i was to polite to say, "man do you think i did not know that". It is so hard to be put to the unpolite necessity of putting the other straight, of saying, it is not that i know everything, i don't, but man as stupid as you seem to think i am, I ask you, and you have not even made any effort to find out what i do know how coudl you be so rude. agri rose macaskie.
     I post a foto of what it looks like when farming methods have been such as to create erosion that exposes the rock and the erosion here was created by western farming techniques. . There are a few junipers growing on the rocks, very hardy trees like this will help restore earth. agri rose macaskie.
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