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Basic Theories of Japanese Haiku !Study writing Haiku !

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Kigo and haiku topics in Kenya --
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The Haiku Clubs of Kenya since 2006

..... Haiga from the Haiku Clubs Haigaonline 7-2, 2006

..... Japanese Culture Week in Nairobi! Teaching Haiku.
February 2008


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Patrons Kukai August 2017


Patrons' Kukai August 2017

***** Location: Greenspan Mall, Kayole, Kenya
***** Season: Cold dry season

On 19 August 2017, the Patrons (Patrick Wafula, Andrew Otinga, Paul Kanga and Jackson Siva) of the four schools participating in Kenya Saijiki met together with the Moderator (Isabelle Prondzynski) in the Java House Café in Greenspan Mall, Kayole, Nairobi. The objective was to discuss the progress of haiku in their respective schools and to exchange ideas. The just concluded General Election was also raised.

An inter club meeting is planned for September, and will take place at the invitation of the Beavers in their school. It is expected that 123 haijin will travel from the other schools to participate in the meeting. Computer certificates will be presented on this occasion. Patrons to co-ordinate with Mr Kimani so that this can be done at the agreed date.

Dates for the 2018 kukai were decided upon as follows :

24 February 2018. Patrick Wafula will report on possible venues at the next Patrons' meeting in November or December.

29 September 2018. Kenkyo na Kokoro will host this kukai.

Ideas for Kenya Saijiki :

~ Isabelle regularly to send the haiku clubs one haiku for their comments and appreciation, and one haiku to be revised and improved.

~ Isabelle to set themes on which the haiku clubs should research and report in time for the February kukai, the result of their research and the accompanying haiku written by themselves to be presented at the kukai. Each haiku club and the Patrons received a topic for research :

Patrons to focus on the jacaranda tree and blossom
Bamboochas to focus on Advent and Christmas Eve
Parrots to focus on Christmas Day
Beavers to focus on New Year's Day
Kenkyo na kokoro to focus on the First Things of the new year

~ Haiku clubs to make use of haiga (pictures combined with haiku) or haibun (narrative combined with haiku) -- each haiku club to prepare its report in the form of a haiga or haibun for the February kukai.

~ Rewards for haiku consistency and quality to be presented by Isabelle at kukai meetings.

We enjoyed a ginkoo in the Greenspan Mall compound and shared the haiku we had written. These follow below.

. . . CLICK here for the Photo by Isabelle Prondzynski !


- - - - - HAIKU - - - - -

my dusty shoes
on the clean pavement --
Greenspan Mall

Java House window --
a human face in the sun
stares at me

. . . CLICK here for the Photo by Isabelle Prondzynski !

Java House lounge --
a palm tree trembling
in the morning breeze

sparkling dew
in a canna lily's bud --
bright sun

ferns peeping
from a bamboo hedge --
Java House

the soft rustle
of a bamboo hedge --
gentle breeze

scorching sun --
star grass in Greenspan
has turned brown

green algae grown
on stagnant water --
metal tap

a bud, an onion
or a bean in the froth --

~ Patrick Wafula


. . . CLICK here for the Photo by Isabelle Prondzynski !

afternoon breeze --
red canna lily blossoms
tremble and tremble

a can top hanging
in the bamboo hedge --
Greenspan Mall

a black ant emerges
out of a red soil heap -
children's fun park

a bee lands
on red canna lily blossoms --
fun park terrace

oxalis leaves
sway in the afternoon wind --
Java Garden

fun park entrance --
green algae covering
an artificial swamp

~ Andrew Otinga


canna lilies
shake in the afternoon breeze --
Greenspan Mall

canna lilies --
I count seven budding stalks
at Greenspan Mall

grown under a palm tree --
Greenspan Mall

Greenspan garden --
three patrons staring
at macdonald's eye

green algae
cover an artificial swamp --
Greenspan Mall entrance

~ Paul Kanga


at Greenspan Mall --
three young girls jumping
on a bouncing castle

at Java House Café --
a kitten hiding
in a flower bed

at Java field --
a black wasp
flying in couch grass

at java field --
a mother on the pavement
scrolling her phone

at Greenspan Mall --
four white cars parked
on the playground

strolling on the pavement --
a mother with a baby
strapped to her back

~ Jackson Siva


Greenspan Mall --
a slight breeze ripples
the little pond

Greenspan Mall --
water toys drifting
in the little pond

lazy Saturday --
a tall merry-go-round
stays idle

. . . CLICK here for the Photo by Isabelle Prondzynski !

Greenspan Mall --
a toy car is parked
in the last fee space

Greenspan Mall --
coloured traffic cones mark out
a parking space

. . . CLICK here for the Photo by Isabelle Prondzynski !

days of drought --
tall water tanks guard
precious supplies

seeking the shade --
a shopping mall entrance
provides some cool

~ Isabelle Prondzynski





Seasonal Words and Topics - List

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.................... List of Seasonal Words
from Kenya and other tropical areas


In Kenya, we have the following haiku seasons:

.. .. .. hot dry season
.. .. .. long rains
.. .. .. cool dry season
.. .. .. short rains

Some of the rainy season kigo appear twice in the course of the year.


.. .. .. .. .. Seasonal Items

hot and dry season
(roughly November to March, with January being the hottest month)

-- Buying textbooks
-- Buying school uniforms
-- Cassia blossom Golden Shower Tree (Cassia fistula). Drumstick Tree (Moringa oleifera).
-- Caterpillar, Hairy Caterpillar
-- Census
-- Christmas worldwide

-- Dry lips
-- Dust
-- Exam resultsKCPE and KCSE Exam Registration and Results
-- February rainfall
-- First things, New Year
-- Form One entrants and monolisation
-- Frangipani, Plumeria
-- Goat Meat, also Goats in general
ice cream
-- Jamhuri Day (12 December)
-- January
- - - - Njaanuary ( njaa and (Jan)nuary
-- Maasai Cattle (Masai Cattle)
-- Mabati shimmering roofs
-- Maize, Green Maize (for corn/maize see below)
-- Mango (ripe fruit)
-- National Drama Festival
-- New Year
--- New Year's resolution 2012
open shoes
-- Orchid Show, Nairobi
-- Papyrus and other grasses couch grass, napier grass, African star grass
-- Paying school fees
-- peaches, ripe peaches
-- Plums, ripe plums, plum fruit
-- Scorching sun
-- Smell of urine
-- Start of new school year Kenya
... ... see also Start of Schoolyear, worldwide
-- sweating
Valentine’s Day, St Valentine’s Day, Valentine
-- vest
-- Water shortage , drought
-- Weeds
-- World AIDS Day


long rains (roughly March to May)

-- Amaranth, Amaranthus leaf vegetable
-- Bombax blossom
-- First rainfall, imminent rain
-- bullfrogs Frog (kawazu, kaeru) worldwide
-- Easter
-- flooding
-- flying termites kumbi kumbi
-- Grass, fresh grass, green grass, young grass
-- Guava fruit
-- Gumboots, gum boots
-- heavy raindrops
-- Ibis (Hadada)
-- Labour Day
-- Long Rains Haiku by Bahati Club
-- Long Rains
-- Mabati roofs rusting and harvesting rainwater
Mater Hospital Heart Run
-- Mosquitoes in Kenya

-- Mud (Swahili : matope)
including: Brickmaking, Dry mud, Bukusu Initiation (Circumcision)  
-- Mudslide, landslide

-- Palm Sunday
-- Plantation activities
-- Pneumonia
-- Power failure, blackout     
-- Puddle, puddles
-- rain shower
-- Rhinoceros beetle , a scarab beetle
-- Sand harvesting, sand mining
-- Shoe wiper
-- Stepping stones, step-stone bridge  
-- Thorn tree flowers
-- UEFA league
-- Umbrella
-- Urine smell, smell of urine


cold, cool and dry season
(roughly from June to September, with July being the coldest month)

-- August moon
-- Avocado pear (Kikuyu : Mûkorobîa)
-- Beanie cap Kenya
-- Budget Day
-- Bukusu Initiation / Circumcision
-- Cold Dew (kanro) worldwide
-- Cold dry season, cool dry season   
-- Cold water

Datura suaveolens, Moonflower, Angel's Trumpet, trumpet plant
-- Day of the African Child (16 June)  
-- Dust
-- Euro Games, UEFA European Football Championship
-- Glove, gloves
-- Frangipani, Plumeria       
-- freezing
-- Hawkers for warm things glove, hot coffee, uji maize porridge, scarf, sweater ...
Irish potatoes (viazi)
-- Jiko (brazier)
-- July
-- Loquat, loquats - fruit
-- Maasai Cattle (Masai Cattle)
-- Mabati roors collect dew
-- Madaraka Day (1 June)
-- Maize, Green Maize
-- Martyrs’ Day Uganda
-- Morning glory, fam. Ipomoea (

-- Nairobi Bomb Day (7 August)
-- Nairobi International Trade Fair (end of September)
-- no meetings (August)
-- Oranges (Swahili : Mchungwa)
Referendum August 2010
-- Sunflower
-- Sesbania Tree (Sesbania sesban (L.) Merr.)
-- Shivering, to shiver
-- start of university year
-- Weeds


short rains (roughly October and November)

-- Aramanthus, vegetable
-- bullfrogs > Frog (kawazu, kaeru) worldwide
-- First rainfall, imminent rain
-- Ocotber rain
-- Flamboyant Tree (Swahili : Mjohoro)
-- Flooding in 2006
-- flying termites kumbi kumbi
-- Graduation Ceremony in Kenya
... ... see also Graduation (sotsugyoo) worldwide
-- sGrevillea tree Grevillea Robusta . Mgrivea (Swahili), Mûkima (Kikuyu)
-- Gumboots, gum boots
-- Jacaranda blossom
-- heavy raindrops
-- Kenyatta Day
-- Messiah for the Hospice

-- Moi Day (10 October) renamed :
. . Mashujaa Day since 2010
-- Mosquitoes in Kenya
-- Mud (Swahili : matope)
-- Mudslide, landslide

-- Nairobi Marathon
-- -- Plantation activities
-- Power failure, blackout
-- Puddle, puddles
-- Shoe wiper

-- School exams KCSE / KCPE
------ Short Rains and more kigo about this season
-- Stepping stones, step-stone bridge
-- Thorn tree - fresh leaves
-- Tipu tree (Tipuana tipu)
-- Umbrella

.. .. .. Glossary of Kenyan Terms and more Haiku Topics


............. Topics for which the season changes

-- Diwali (Devali, Divali)
-- Ramadan in Kenya
-- Ramadan ends (Idd ul Fitr)


............. Non-seasonal Topics

Ageing ... Getting old in Kenya. Grandfather, Grandmother
Akala ... Sandals
Aloe vera
Arfat, scarf of a muslim woman
Arusha Tanzania
. . . Brick making in Arusha
. . . Namanga-Arusha Highway Road

Banana ring, to carry things
Bat, bats . . . and the Mukuyu tree
Bisquits and cookies
Boda boda, motorbike taxi, motorcycle taxi
Boma Homesteads
Buibui, to cover the head and face of a Muslim woman face veil
Bukusu Culture, Babukusu People
Bull fighting, bullfight
Bunche Road, Nairobi

Calabash, calabashes, gourd
Camel, Dromedary, Kamel, Dromedar
Casuarina Tree
Central Park, Children's Traffic Park
Chapati, flatbread Chokoraa, chokora - "street boy" or "parking boy"
Coconut, coconuts, coconut milk
Coffee plant blossoms, coffee blossoms
Crickets, cricket

Dandora, Municipal Garbage Site Nairobi
Day Moon
Demolitions in Patanisho, Nairobi
Duck, ducks

Elections, general election 2013
Eucalyptus tree Fam. Myrtaceae

Fences and hedges
Firefinch fam. Lagonosticta
First things
Flame tree (Erythrina fam.)
Flies, Fly, Housefly, Fruitfly
Fountain (in a park)

Garbage, sewers, sewerage
Gilgil, town in the Rift Valley
Grevillea tree

Hell's Gate National Park

Irio (mûkimû)
Isukuti Dance

Jackfruit, fenesi
Jeevanjee Gardens and Alibhai Mulla Jeevanjee
Jua kali artisans

Kabaka of Uganda
Kajiado mission
Kale, kales, a cabbage (sukumawiki)
Kamba People A funeral in Ukambani
Kamukunji constituency, Nairobi
Kanga, kangas, wrapping cloth
Karura forest
Kasarani Constituency

Kenya Railway Museum Kukai August 2010
Kenyatta National Hospital,Nairobi
Khamsin wind Egypt, North Africa
Khat, miraa (Catha edulis)
Kiambu County
Kibanda hut, kiosk, stall
Kibera Slums
Kigali, Rwanda
Kikoi. kikoy - garment, shawl
Kiondo handbag (chondo, pl. vyondo)
Kisii in Nyanza Narok plains, Ogembo Street
Kisongo Market Tanzania
Kitale Town in Western Kenya
kitenge - garment

Koinange mall and street, Nairobi
Komarocks play ground and Embakasi
Korogocho slum
kuku choma - grilled chicken

Lang'ata - Nairobi
Limuru town in Kiambu West Distarict
Longido Hills
Lugari Forest

Machakos town, Masaku
Magadi, Lake Magadi in the Rift Valley
Maize (Swahili : Mahindi, American : Corn, South African : Mealies)
managu vegetable
Masai, Maasai, Massai ... indigenous African ethnic group of semi-nomadic people located in Kenya
Mandazi, a kind of doughnuts ndazi (singular)
Marabou Stork, Leptoptilos crumeniferus
Marikiti Farmers' Market Nairobi
Market, markets
Matatu minibus
Mathare Youth Sports Association, MYSA Mathare Valley slums
Matuu town
Mavoko county
Mitumba (singular : mtumba) second-hand goods
Mkokoteni - hand cart, pushcart pl. mikokoteni
Monkey, monkeys
Mount Kenya and Kilimanjaro
Mtumba (singular) / mitumba (plural) used items
Mugumo tree
mutura - Kenyans Saussage
Murang'a town
murram mud roads
Mzungu, muzungu ... person of European descent... "white person"

Nairobi City
Haile Selassie Avenue, Soweto Market, Wakulima Market, Thika road, Tom Mboya street, Marikiti market, Kawangare slums, Kibera slum . . .

Ngaramtoni at the flank of Mount Meru
Newspaper vendor, newspaper boy
Nightjar (Fam. Caprimulgus)
Night life
Njiru Market
Njiiru Plains
Nyama choma - roast meat

Passion fruit, Passiflora edulis
Pawpaw tree(Asimina) paw paw, paw-paw, papaw
Peace (Swahili : Amani)
Pig, pigs
Pine tree, Pinus Patula
Pineapple, Ananas comosus
Pokot people West Pokot and Baringo Districts of Kenya
Pomelo (Citrus maxima or Citrus grandis) Chinese grapefruit
Posho mill, poshomill -- to grind wheat, maize and other grains

Rift Valley
Royal Palm Tree Roystonea regia

Sewer, sewage in Soweto
shuka - blanket
shamba - food garden
Sinai slum fire, September 2011
Sisal (Agave sisalana)
..... Sisal and makongeni paths
Slasher to cut grass
Smoke and smog
Snake, Snakes
Sorghum (mtama) and milled porridge (uji)
Sowbug, a brown snail
Sufuria .. cooking pot or saucepan

Tea (Swahili : chai)
-- thermos container
Tilapia fish
Toilet, outhouse
Tomato, tomatoes
Trans-Mara region

Ugali and Uji, maize porridge
Ukwala, Muthurwa, Luthuli Avenue
Umbrella tree / Schefflera actinophylla
Upland rice

Voi, Sagala hill

Weaver birds (Ploceidae family)
Webuye Town
Westgate Attack, Mall Attack, September 2013

Wimbi, bulo ... Millet
Wood, firewood
World Environment Day (5 June)



Haibun . Haiku in Combination

Construction and Development

. Kiswahili Haiku


...................................... Other Tropical SAIJIKI

WKD: Trinidad and Tobago Saijiki


.. .. .. .. .. National Holidays in Kenya

l Jan -- New Year's Day -- International New Year's Day Holiday
> -- WKD ... : New Year (shin-nen)

Varies -- Good Friday -- Christian holiday commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ
> -- WKD ... : Easter

Varies -- Easter Monday -- Christian holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ
> -- WKD ... : Easter

1 May -- Labour Day -- International Day of the Worker
> -- see also : Labour Day, USA

. . . . .

Mashujaa Day

10 Oct -- Moi Day -- Established on the 10th day of the 10th month 10 years after the inauguration of President Daniel arap Moi as the second President of Kenya.
October 2010:
The new constitution scrapped Moi Day and replaced Kenyatta day with Hero's (Mashujaa) Day in efforts to celebrate the men and women who fought for Kenya's freedom .

20 Oct -- Kenyatta Day -- This is to commemorate the arrest of Jomo Kenyatta and the declaration of the State of Emergency on 20 October 1952.
October 2010:
The new constitution scrapped Moi Day and replaced Kenyatta day with Hero's (Mashujaa) Day in efforts to celebrate the men and women who fought for Kenya's freedom .
Jomo Kenyatta

. . . . .

12 Dec -- Uhuru or Jamhuri Day -- This is to commemorate the day on which Kenya achieved its Independence, on 12 December 1963.
> -- Jamhuri Day

25 Dec -- Christmas Day -- Christian holiday celebrating the Birth of Jesus Christ.
> -- Bahati Haiku Club : Christmas
> -- WKD ... : Christmas

26 Dec -- Boxing Day -- celebrating St Stephen's Day and the second
day of the Christmas season.
> -- WKD ... St Stephen's Day

Varies -- Idd ul Fitr
The Muslim festival of Idd-ul-Fitr is also a public holiday and takes place on the sighting of the new moon at the end of Ramadhan. The exact date varies according to the position of the New Moon.


.. .. .. .. .. .. Annual events in Kenya

Apart from big celebrations that are held on Madaraka, Kenyatta and Independence Days, Nairobi is also the venue for a number of large international and national sports matches. Nairobi further enhances its cosmopolitan image by hosting a number of annual shows and

The Kenya Schools Music Festival is held in Nairobi in May/June and

The Agricultural Society of Kenya (A.S.K.) Show takes place at Jamhuri Park at the end of September or beginning of October. See Nairobi International Trade Fair

The long established and international Safari Rally begins and ends in Nairobi - drawing ever larger crowds.


Introduction to the

Haiku Clubs of Nairobi


More LINKs in the Kenya Saijiki

Getting to Know Kenya

Poetry and Literature of Kenya

Music of Kenya, by Douglas Paterson

Missionaries in Kenya

Wildlife in Kenya

Plants and Animals of Kenya, LIST by Allen & Nancy Chartier

Kakamega Forest Birds

Nature Kenya Organization


Editor: Isabelle Prondzynski


Kutoka Wikipedia, kamusi elezo huru: HAIKU

Back to the Worldkigo Index

Back to the Trinidad and Tobago Index



African Haiku

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Introducing Haiku from Africa


African Haiku by Fancy

African Haiku by Stephen Davies

African Haiku with Ted Goossen


Go to Amazon Com

Haiku Africa: Haikus and Photographs
by Joel H. Goldstein (Author)

Bull Elephant walks
Isolated on the road
Alone with his thoughts


Botswana Haiku

As one of the assignments for this course, students were asked to do a piece of creative writing using the characteristics (whether formal or not) of one of the texts that we discussed during the semester.

I looked around me
In the middle of the street
Suddenly I am lost.

by Jacob Nthoiwa

source : Botswana Haiku
University of Botswana English Department, 2003



Haiku from Kenya, Kenya Saijiki ケニア歳時記

The Haiku Clubs of Nairobi


South Africa

There are Jewish, Muslim and Hindu religious festivals celebrated here, although the Christian ones are the only that rate a national holiday right now.

Some of our national holidays are interesting in terms of kigo.
For instance, Heritage Day is celebrated on 24 September in the spring so there is a contrast between the forward-looking season and the backwards-looking celebration.
Another like Youth Day is 16 June, almost mid-winter and very appropriate perhaps to the tragedy of that day in 1976.

And then there is our fynbos ("feiner Busch") , a unique and indigenous family of plants. So diverse that I think some or other species of it are in flower at any one time of the year. So fynbos is something really South African but not really something that one can associate with a season as such.

Moira Richards, South Africa

Fynbos , South African Plant in our library


Steve Shapiro
His first collection of haiku, In a borrowed tent (Snailpress) won the 1996 Ingrid Jonker Prize for English language poetry.

2007, a new book of poems, of little consequence

. . . from of little consequence:

From the “Spring” section:

The spring breeze
- I lost a piece of paper
with a poem on it

From the “Winter” section:

Collecting mushrooms
my knife blade reflecting mist
swirling through the pines

source : carapace.book.co.za, 2007


Tingatinga painting style - Tanzania

CLICK for many more photos

Tingatinga -
a world of colors

Gabi Greve, October 2009

Once there was a man called Edward S. Tingatinga. He was born in the Namochelia village in Tunduru district in the South Tanzania.
During the 1960s he established an art form that became associated with Tanzania. Today, "Tingatinga" is the Tanzanian term for this form of art, known most intimately in Tanzania, Kenya, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Japan, Switzerland etc.
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !



Getting to Know Kenya

[ . BACK to TOP . ]

.. .. .. .. .. Getting to Know Kenya

The peoples of Kenya

Kenya is a huge country, comparable with the whole of Europe, rather than any individual country within the continent. The population of 29 million people (1999 census) live in hugely different circumstances, depending on their location -- from desert to beach, from the fertile plateau to sodium lakes, from well watered hills to arid bush, from uninhabited areas to urban conglomerations. Some areas are densely populated, while others know only semi-nomadic seasonal pastoralists.

Within Kenya live 32 nations, each with its own language, as well as numerous others who speak dialects of these 32. The national language, which only a small minority speak as their mother tongue, is Swahili (in Swahili : Kiswahili). By means of this second language, all people of Kenya can communicate, not only with each other, but with the people of the neighbouring countries.

To compare with Europe again -- if all Europeans learnt Esperanto as their second language and used it to communicate with each other, rather than learning dozens of each other's languages, the same efficient effect could be achieved. English in Kenya is the third language, used for secondary and tertiary education throughout the country, as well as for primary education in the melting pot of Nairobi. Each child therefore prepares for adult life through education in her or his third language from secondary school at the latest. There must be few other countries who do this! Most Kenyans therefore, who have attended school beyond the age of 14, are trilingual -- though not of course equally competent in each of these languages.

In Kenya have met 3 great families of nations, the Bantu, the Nilotic and the Cushitic -- a rich mix which has not occurred in any other country. If we compare with Europe, this is populated above all by Indo-Europeans, but there are also Finno-Ugric peoples (the Finns, Estonians and Hungarians) and Basques (apparently related to no other people on earth). In other words, English and Hindi are more similar than Kikuyu and Luo (to mention the two largest nations within Kenya).

The political system is, of course, the same for all. Legally, some differences exist, as each nation may have its own law in matters such as matrimony and inheritance.

Culture and attitudes differ vastly between these nations -- and of course between individuals!

Kenyans were not in the past happy emigrants -- preferring their own country to those of others. More recently, there has been a change, with a search for the crock of gold... that same crock which eluded most of the Irish emigrants of the past...

Isabelle Prondzynski

............................ Further reading :

1999 census summary (one page of interesting highlights) :

General introduction to the peoples of Kenya :


History of Kenya

In 1911, the german enthomologist prof. Kattwinkel fell down a ravine while he was pursuing an unusual butterfly. The place was Olduvai Gorge, in Serengeti. The fall was hard, but the scientist somehow managed to save his life. Then he raised his eyes, and only a scientist would have appreciated that the rocky wall was an extraordinary fossil bed... And this changed the conception man had of his own origin.
To tell the history of Kenya, we must go right to the start, to the dawn of mankind.
... kenyalogy.com

More reference about KENYA


Great Photo Collection of Kenya

Group of Samburu dancers performing traditional tribal jumping dance.


Kenya -- Folklore

Kenya's many ethnic groups have a well developed and sophisticated folklore which embodies their history, traditions, mores, world-view and wisdom. Their legends recount the movement of people to and from the rift valley, into the highlands, the grasslands and the lake regions. Famous historical figures such as the Kikuyu Gikuyu and Mumbi or the Luo culture hero Liongo are represented in myths and legends. Myths include accounts of how cattle were given to a certain people by God. The Maasai have this legend, so when they went on cattle raids they were getting back what was rightfully theirs. The Kikuyu also have a similar story.

Folk tales try to answer etymological questions, such as why the hyena has a limp and the origin of death. In many Kenyan cultures the message that men would not die was given to a chameleon, but he was so slow that a bird got to man before him and gave them the message that men would die. Folk tales also recount the adventures of tricksters. In Kenya, tricksters are usually the hare or the tortoise. The ogre is another popular, if evil, character in many Kenyan folk tales. The ogre devours whole communities but is eventually vanquished by the actions of a brother and sister. The brother then cuts the toe of the ogre and all the people it ate come out.

Each ethnic group has a large store of riddles, proverbs and sayings, which are still an important aspect of daily speech. Riddles were usually exchanged in the evening before a storytelling session. Riddling sessions are usually competitions between two young people who fictionally bet villages, or cattle, or other items of economic life on the outcome. Many cultures have a prohibition on telling riddles during daylight hours. The Kikuyu had a very elaborate sung riddle game, a duet called the enigma poem or gicandia set text poem of riddles. It is sung in a duet and the players are in a competition. The duet is strikingly different than the normal singing of the Kikuyu performed by a soloist and a chorus. The poem is learned by heart. A decorated gourd rattle accompanies the singing One gicandi may consists of 127 stanzas.

Proverbs are social phenomenon and as such they can be defined as a message coded by tradition and transmitted in order to evaluate and/or effect human behavior. Proverbs reveal key elements of a culture such as the position and influence of women, morality, what is considered appropriate behavior, and the importance of children. For example the Luo have these proverbs:
(1) The eye you have treated will look at you contemptuously.
(2) A cowardly hyena lives for many years.
(3) The swimmer who races alone, praises the winner.

Some Kikuyu examples includes:
(1) Women and the sky cannot be understood.
(2) The man may be the head of the home, but the woman is the heart.
(3) Frowning frogs cannot stop the cows drinking from the pool.

There are also several proverbs in Swahili and English that have become part of Kenyans' daily life. For example: Haraka Haraka haina baraka (hurry hurry has not blessing) and also, When elephants fight it is the grass that suffers.

The Swahili people on Kenya's coast have had a rich oral tradition that has been influenced by Islam. Stories of genies are told side by side with stories of hare and hyena. There is also a very rich tradition of popular poetry that has been part of Swahili cultural life for over four centuries.

Kenyan radio and television shows use folklore as part of their daily programming. Oral literature is part of the secondary and university syllabus. Part of the requirement in these classes is for students to collect folklore from their parents and grandparents. Kenyans believe that folklore is an important part of their heritage and culture and are taking steps to preserve and encourage folklore and education. While global culture in the shape of movies, music and literature is replacing folklore, Kenyans are actively involved in its maintenance.

For Further Reading:
African Studies Center
© Kenya -- Folklore


Biovision - plants, humans, animals, environment
source : infonet-biovision.org



Wildlife in Kenya


Kenya Wildlife Service
Welcome to Kenya and experience the way God intended nature to be: sun-baked savannahs, snow-capped mountains, glistening coral reefs, astounding habitats and outstanding people.

Some of our Photos

Lake Nakuru National Park

Nakuru means "Dust or Dusty Place" in Maasai language. Lake Nakuru National Park, close to Nakuru town, was established in 1961. It started off small, only encompassing the famous lake and the surrounding mountainous vicinity. Now it has been extended to include a large part of the savannahs.


................ Ben Guaraldi : Birds in Flight

The birds in their flight--
a slow undulating line
that moves up and down.

written in Nakuru Park, Kenya

Lake Nakuru
is a very shallow strongly alkaline lake 62 km2 in extent. It is set in a picturesque landscape of surrounding woodland and grassland next to Nakuru town. The landscape includes areas of marsh and grasslands alternating with rocky cliffs and outcrops, stretches of acacia woodland and rocky hillsides covered with a Euphorbia forest on the eastern perimeter.


Wildlife in Kenya, esp. animals and trees

. . . www.colobustrust.


Plants and Animals of Kenya, LIST by Allen & Nancy Chartier

Kakamega Forest Birds

Nature Kenya Organization


Kenyan seasons

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Discussing kigo and haiku topics from Kenya

by Isabelle Prondzynski, September 2007

In an equatorial country, such as Kenya, seasons work very differently from those in temperate zones, such as Japan and Europe.

In August 2007, the two most active Haiku Clubs of Kenya, the Bamboochas of Bahati Community Centre Secondary School and the Peacocks of St Mathew Secondary School, invited me to discuss with them the importance of kigo and haiku topics for Kenya haijin.

What follows here are the joint reflections of the clubs, their patrons and myself, which were later discussed with the Worldkigo Database Group in September 2007.

The Peacocks’ classroom


What feeling attaches to the Kenyan seasons?

We started by reviewing the European / Japanese seasons, as Kenyans are not necessarily familiar with the activities and feelings attached to each of these.

What happens ...

... in the weather (thaw -- heat -- warmth -- cold),
... in nature (germination -- growth -- harvest -- rest),
... in activities (planting -- cultivating -- harvesting -- resting),
... in the parallel to human lives (childhood and youth -- maturity -- old age -- death).

The next thing was to apply this thinking and feeling to the Kenyan seasons. Kenyans are much less used to thinking of their year as being broken down into seasons, than people living in temperate zones are. For the sake of simplification, we dispensed with the hot / cold aspect and concentrated first of all on the more important rainy / dry season distinction -- there are two of each as the year goes on.

As we discussed, we found that the associated words which came to us, could be organised along certain categories, some of which are :

-- activities
-- food
-- beauty
-- home life / leisure
-- ilnesses
-- suffering / tragedy

Unlike Europe and Japan, where the year revolves in a cycle, with the whole of nature participating in a crescendo and diminuendo, followed by another crescendo, in Kenya, each season is more balanced, and each has its "good" and "bad" sides. Each season brings its own growth, its own food, its own suffering and despair.

The students, pondering what the rainy / dry seasons meant to them, answered "hope" (for the rainy seasons) and "hopelessness" (for the dry seasons).

Compared with human life, they responded that the rains corresponded to "childhood and youth", and the dry seasons to all the other ages -- "maturity, old age and death".

They then reflected whether this held for urban areas as well as rural. They agreed that the dry seasons were in many respects easier for an urban person than the rainy seasons -- but even urban people depend on the food grown in the rural areas, and if this does not grow in sufficient quantity or at the right time, prices rise and the urban population suffers hunger as much as the rural population does. So, the parallels shift only slightly in the urban setting as compared with the rural one.

The Bamboochas’ notes on the Rainy Seasons


Kenya kigo and haiku topics

The next item on our agenda was to distinguish between kigo and haiku topics.

We ran through a list of words, including these ...

... dust (kigo)
... oranges (kigo)
... Hell's Gate (topic)
... Kenyatta Day (kigo)

which were, at least at first sight, easy.

But others, such as ...

... fly
... thorn tree
... weaver bird

were more complicated, as those of us who were keen observers, had noticed that different aspects of these subjects were noticeable at different times of year.

Thus, the fly, which is there all year round, becomes more of a nuisance in the dry season. The thorn tree, which is beautiful and has leaves all year round, flowers in the cool dry season. The weaver bird, which is observed all year round, rears its young at a specific time of year (to be observed).

... goatmeat

is a kigo for Christians at Christmas, being most Kenyans' preferred meat for the big festivals. But we also realised that this is popular for family celebrations (the homecoming of a much loved child studying or working far away, the meeting of two families whose children are about to get married, etc.). And we realised that Kenyan Muslims, who share the same preference for goatmeat as a special festive food, like to eat this for Idd Ul Fittr and other great Muslim festivals.

So, our first conclusion was :


The better we observe, the more kigo we may be able to find for one and the same item.

Examples :

... weaver birds building nests, weaver birds rearing their young
... avocado trees flowering, avocado fruit ripe to eat
... cassia trees leafless, cassia blossom


We then discussed the need to use a kigo if possible in every haiku.

This, we had realised, seems to be more difficult in Kenya than in temperate places like Europe and Japan.

The Kenyan seasons have several disadvantages -- from a haijin's point of view!

(a) they have long names
(b) their names are not in common use
(c) many kigo are identical for the two rainy seasons / the two dry seasons
(d) the weather is not all that different all year round
(e) there is no general and simultaneous crescendo and diminuendo of nature in Kenya

Just a few comments here :

(a) In a temperate haiku, it is easy to use "spring breeze", "summer sunset", "autumn loneliness" or "winter chill", for instance, to create an immediate feeling for the season and its atmosphere. It is not so easy for a haijin to say "breeze of the cool dry season" or "wind of the long rains".

(b) Even if it could be done, the feeling would not be as tangible as that of the temperate haiku. People are not as used to thinking in terms of the current season in order to express themselves.

(c) This is probably self evident. Examples are : mud, dust, puddle, downpour, flying termites, bullfrogs, etc. Each of these kigo occur in two seasons each year.

(d) We have brilliant sunshine during the rainy seasons, haijin may want to include this is a haiku (rainfall is mostly in the afternoon and evening). The quality of the sunshine during the rains does not differ significantly from that during the dry seasons. Equally, we have showers during the dry seasons, and sometimes even heavy rain. Less frequently, of course, but normal all the same.

(e) In the short term, one could say that each rainy season plus the following dry season is a unit, so that there are two of these units per year. There is planting and growth, followed by harvest and preparation in each of these units.

In the longer term, there are fruit (particularly those which grow on trees) which mature only once per year -- but taking all such fruit together, they mature throughout the year at different times.

Taking the whole country (which straddles the Equator) as a unit, we find that there is always a part of the country in which the same plant has a different cycle. Thus, Nairobi is never short of fresh avocadoes, mangoes, pawpaws and many other fruit, all year round, because when one part of the country has finished its harvest, another part of the country will bring in a new one.

In August, when the cassia trees of Nairobi are leafless and resting with their ripe seeds (produced by the flowers of January to April), the cassia trees of Kisumu are flowering beautifully.

And so, we arrived at a second conclusion :


In Kenya, we may not be able to advise haijin that every haiku should have a kigo.
Kenyan kigo are a lot more difficult than temperate kigo.
We may need to allow the use of haiku topics instead of kigo.


Working group of Bamboochas


What are suitable haiku topics for Kenya?

As seen here, Kenyan seasons differ from each other to a lesser extent than temperate seasons do. Yet, we know that seasons help to structure human lives, as humans live within the rhythms of nature.

So, what, together with the seasons, structures human lives in an equatorial country like Kenya? Could these be the best haiku topics to cultivate for the haijin?

The most important are the events of the human life cycle :

... births
... circumcisions and other rites of passage to adulthood
... engagements
... dowry ceremonies
... weddings
... visits of relatives
... visits of in-laws
... war and peace
... deaths
... funerals
... memorials

Many of these are associated with detailed ceremonial, often taking place in several stages.

In Kenya Saijiki, we have already collected some material on circumcision, on mourning, on peace. These could be the start of a Kenya specific collection of haiku topics.

We have also started on haiku topics associated with geography, the beauty of the different parts of the country.

The wild animals of Kenya, so numerous and beautiful, can give rise to many kigo, once we have observed them sufficiently. Most of them do not live in urban areas -- so this observation will take some time. But the animals will also be topics. A zebra is a being of beauty all year round -- no haijin will ever regard a Kenya zebra or another wild animal as something ordinary, and it will always be a pleasure to write about them.

Concentrated Peacocks

Text and photos © Isabelle Prondzynski, 2007

Related words

***** The Haiku Clubs of Nairobi

***** Bukusu Initiation / Circumcision
***** Mourning
***** Peace (Swahili : Amani)

***** Kenya Saijiki
More kigo and topics



Caleb - Graduation Day


Graduation Day Haibun

By Caleb Mutua

On 6 December 2013, I was (as the saying goes) given the power to read. I miraculously graduated from the most prestigious public university in Kenya, the University of Nairobi (UoN), with Second Class Honours (Upper Division). Interestingly, it was the 50th graduation ceremony of the university, my country was preparing to turn 50 years in a week’s time and I had just turned 25 two weeks earlier.

This day will remain fresh in my mind for years to come. Every graduand was given only two invitation cards and so I had brought my mother, my twin brother and my small nieces to be with me.

Mom and the kids had never been to the university and my brother James had been there once while I was in second year. I wanted everything to be perfect. I had hired a taxi to pick us up from home and take us to the campus. The taxi would also take us to a Pizza Inn in Nairobi’s Central Business District and later take us back home. My friend, a professional photographer, would take our photos with her new D90 Nikon Camera. Everything looked perfect!

On the morning of the graduation, I woke up very early. The taxi came on time but Mom took longer than planned to prepare the kids. After waiting impatiently for 20 minutes, we left home at 6:45 am. The taxi driver knew his way around town. He ingeniously avoided the morning traffic and we arrived well on time at 8:12 am.

graduation day —
my niece can’t find
her hair flower

Jogoo Road —
a graduand smiles at me
in the traffic

muddy graduation square —
her stilettoes leave a trail
of deep holes

The graduation ceremony kicked off at 8:30 am. I listened to the long speeches absent-mindedly, still not believing that we had finally made it. That I had made it. To most of the graduands, they saw it coming. They had gone to good schools and were sure they would end up at UoN.

But to some of us, we had not. I had not. I had never thought I would graduate from UoN, or any other university for that matter. As my friends complained about the mud and the hot sun, I sat there in disbelief, wearing a stupid smile. I couldn’t believe my name was about to be called.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’ve always thought of myself as an above average person. In fact, my family and friends have on many occasions said I am bright and clever! But I still didn't believe I was about to graduate with a degree in Journalism and Media Studies.

Come to think of it, I never went to good schools. By the time I was sitting for my Kenya Certificate for Primary Education (KCPE), I could count a total of 18 schools I had attended. Only two of them were State schools. The rest were private schools in Nairobi’s various slums whose classes were partitioned with cartons. Grammar teachers spoke broken English. I remembered with nostalgia how I rolled with the punches; the many times I was made to wear a stinking bone after being caught speaking Swahili; how I hardly learnd anything in the afternoon classes because most of the times I was too hungry to think.

In November 2003, I finally sat for my KCPE exams. I passed with flying colours. I had qualified to go to a Provincial school for my secondary education, but my family could not afford to pay my fee. My secondary school was no different from my primary school, except that the classrooms were made with concrete walls and we did not have to carry clean water from home for the teachers to cook with.

One day in mid-2005, we had visitors in our school. They told us about some old Japanese guy called Master Basho and how he lived a simple life writing some poems called haiku. They also showed us how to write haiku and promised us free computer lessons. I also remember them mentioning something like the best haiku writers would some day go to Japan.

In the beginning, writing haiku was an uphill task. I remember flipping through the Oxford English dictionary just to find the right words to use in my poem. I hated it when my poem never got any comment, even with all the vocabulary, but I was loving the challenge. I always loved languages and my compositions were some of the best in the whole school.

Haiku remained a closed book to most of us for a while but we all had a fair crack of the whip. I became the first chairman of the St. Mathew Haiku Club. We called ourselves Peacocks. At first, we wrote haiku as a routine thing; we were worried that if we stopped writing, the “haiku sponsors” would terminate our computer classes.

Slowly, we started loving the exercise. I was moved by the power of the simple poem and how I could tell a story with 17 syllables. Comments on my work and the many words of encouragement from the Kenya Saijiki members were very helpful. I also came across the Haiku Handbook by W.F Owen, which I read from cover to cover several times. I was into haiku writing hook, line, and sinker.

Then I found a friend who would later change my life forever.
I like to think of her as my guardian angel. In many ways, she reminds me of Canon Patrick Augustine Sheehan, a beloved Irish priest who led a simple life, wrote about the sea and the beating surf and wanted to see everyone happy. He wished he could tell everyone, “Here, Rest and Forget!”

I always admired journalists and even though I would on many occasions use ‘she’ instead of ‘he’, even after my Kenya Certificate for Secondary Education (KCSE), my friend believed in me. In many ways she told me: “Here, Rest and Forget . . .”

A shabby loudspeaker erected on my left announced: “School of Journalism and Mass Communication. The following graduands satisfied the Board of Examination . . .” I could almost hear my heart beat now. It was my moment of truth.

When my name was called, I almost said "Present!". It was a defining moment of my life. I was a graduate. I think I heard my mother scream with joy as my nieces cheered in excitement even though they were seated over 30 metres away.

long speeches —
graduands compare
their caps

graduation day --
a parent wipes his muddy shoes
with the programme

graduation day —
a Maasai family stands out
from the crowd

a graduand helps
her grandma up the stairs —
mobile toilets

In the end, over 9,000 graduands were conferred with various degrees, diplomas and certificates.

After the ceremony, I was reunited with my family. Mom had bought me a graduation card and some shiny decorations that she joyously placed on my neck. I didn't like them. My nieces held my hands firmly as we walked towards the main campus buildings on the other side of Uhuru Highway. My brother wore my graduation cap.

Graduands and their families took photos in and outside various campus buildings. Business was booming for sweet peddlers, hawkers selling graduation cards, picture frames, decorations and foodstuffs. I had never seen so many photographers all trying to outdo each other with ‘instant photo’ tags . . .

campus fountain —
graduands and their families
pose in turns

graduation day —
two photographers show us
their portraits

We took professional pictures in a photography studio in Muindi Mbingu Street and proceeded to Galito’s for a pizza.

At around 3:30 pm, I called our driver to take us to Roasters, a bar and restaurant along Thika Road. I wanted my brother and me to grab a beer, Mom to have wine and the kids to have sodas as they played on the bouncing castles and swings on the restaurant’s compound.
There, we found more graduands -- these ones from Mount Kenya University in Thika -- and their families enjoying themselves. I had no idea the Thika university had a graduation ceremony that same day. We managed to secure a table big enough for us and the driver. The goat meat, however, took longer than the waiter had promised.

Mom and the kids had the best time. I even had my nieces’ faces painted Spider Man and smiley faces. We forgot about the problems we had left at home that morning and had fun.

my mother hugs me
as we wait for the goat meat —
graduation day

my twin brother cuts
smaller pieces for my niece —
goat meat

We left for home at around 6pm.

Caleb Mutua