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  • Writer's pictureCollin Patrick

A Fall Sojourn In Kenya

A few days ago, I took an abrupt trip to be with my family in rural Kenya. We left because my great grandmother had fallen ill, and there was concern she would not recover. Her name was Monica Jepkosgei Yebei, she was born in 1903 in Kipkorgot, Kenya. She was given the English name Monica, a beginning to the erasing of her peoples culture. 120 years later, there is nearly nothing left untouched by colonialism even after its official ending in 1963. My father was raised by Monica, or Gogo as we called her (Kalenjin language for grandmother). After he left Kenya in 1996 to pursue a university education through competitive running, he and my mother gave birth to me on US soil in 2001.

Today, my Kenyan heritage is purely anecdotal as I have no citizenship or affiliation with the country, aside from my lineage. Growing up distanced from my father further grew the divide between myself and my ancestry. Today I buried Gogo’s casket, on the land of her eldest living son. I do not speak Kiswahili or Kalenjin, I've never spent more than a month at a time in Kenya, and I've never completed the traditional coming of age ritual of our people. But today, I buried the casket of my great grandmother, and I shed tears. I watched my father shed tears. My grandmother screamed and wept. And the several hundred people who attended her funeral service spent over 8 hours in the sun mourning, praying, feasting, and rejoicing in her memory. I shed tears today, not because her death was a tragedy, but because with her, dies 120 years of heritage and a testimony of a lived experience that I yearn to hear told.

A life well lived.

Mosin Gogo

Collin Patrick

October 24, 2023


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