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  • Jennifer Mueller

The Mbeere, a short travel guide

Driving south toward Kamburu dam on the only paved road you will soon enter the traditional area of another tribe.

Mbeere

The Mbeere are a close cousin of the Embu and share many cultural traditions. Mbeere district is divided up into 4 divisions with major market centers in Siakago, Kiritiri, and Ishiara. There are several smaller ones as well. Siakago is by far the most cosmopolitan with English and Swahili being spoken readily. The others however will be manned by those speaking primarily Kimbeere as the further out you go the amount of schooling drops off.

Mbeere sees so few tourists that the skills of bartering you honed in Nakuru or any of the national parks will go dull here. If a price is offered then that is the price, perhaps asking for a discount might get you an extra potato or a handful of beans but the price stays the same. Siakago might be the only exception then its not that you’re a tourist but that the district offices are located there and there is more money in the economy. Bartering still is rarely used but things cost more.

The following should get you by easily.

Greetings

Often greeted with Nay Atia essentially how are you? the answer is Nikwega meaning good or nikwegamano, which means very good. Tigwa na wega means goodbye. The elder members of the tribe appreciate being called shosho for grandmother or Umau for grandfather. It is a sign of respect.

Numbers

1-Imwe pronounced Imway

2- Igiri pronounced Igaray

3-Ithatu

4-Inya

5-Ithano

6-Ithathatu

7-Mugwanja

8-Inyanya

9-Kenda

10- Ikumi

How much is the price? - ni mbeca cii gana?

Note (a bill) – noti

20 shilling note – kifau

100 shilling note - Igana rimwe

5 shilling coin - Kingori or kubari

Ikumi or Kifau will be the most common answer.

There is one begger in Kiritiri market, he is readily recognized by his asking please me give me one shilling. He is harmless and when he has received enough money, he will buy fat and flour and make chapati in the middle of the street. Those in Siakago avoid at all costs.

Once you have mastered market you might wish to learn more of the local language. This is harder said than done. After three months of lessons an American asked his teacher, so how do I make sentences of my own? The teacher replied you don’t make your own you know how to say it. The lessons stopped shortly after that.

#kenya #travel

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