Staring At The Nyanza Sun

One of the great things about our connected world is the way that we are able to use the power of the internet to connect with each other in so many ways. YouTube has been a powerful means of allowing people to upload videos the subjects of which cover the full range of human experience.

Every day though there are thousands of new videos uploaded to YouTube and finding a really worthwhile one can be very much like fishing in an ocean or finding the proverbial needle in a haystack. Well this morning, I came across a video, purely by chance when looking at the subject of “Information Literacy in Primary Schools” in a Youtube search.

For reasons known only to the search facility of YouTube, I finished up with a suggestion halfway down the page that was:

Staring at the Nyanza Sun (Part 6: Got Regea Primary School – Tal

I decided to click the link and found myself looking at the story of a Primary school in Kenya. I saw the way that the school was trying to raise money to build a proper library for their pupils and noticed the poverty of their buildings and resources.

I found that there was a Part 7 of this video series and watched this as well. It was about the secondary school  that shares the same site as the Primary school. Here again there were very few resources and the conditions for learning were terrible.

I felt the need to look at the source of these two fascinating videos and found that they came from a website that was about a book that was called “Staring At The Nyanza Sun”

I have now had the opportunity to look at all seven of these amazing videos. They tell the story of Dr Amos Otieno Odenyo who was born and raised in Kenya, became a Police Officer in Pre-independence Kenya but left because of the brutality that he witnessed by his fellow police officers. He gained a scholarship to a college in South Dakota in the U.S.A. but was only able to get to America to study by the help of something called the Mboya-kennedy Airlift (something which I have to admit I had never ever heard of).

The following videos tell of his experiences of study in college and then university in America. He eventually gained a PhD in Sociology and his later life is summed up in his obituary thus:

From 1972 until 2007, Dr. Amos Odenyo was a Professor of Sociology at York College (CUNY) in Queens, New York. He also served as the Chairman of the Department of Social Sciences during the majority of the years between 1972 and 1994. In summers of 1973 and 1974, Amos provided cross-cultural training to U.S. Peace Corps volunteers in Nairobi, Kenya, and in 1974 he was a Research Associate at the University of Nairobi. Amos published several articles focusing on Kenyan development and the culture of the Luo of western Kenya. Amos was a member of the Board of Trustees of World Education Inc., and a member of numerous professional associations in the fields of African Studies and Sociology.

In 1967, Amos married Mayone V. Dahlk of Grove City, Minnesota. The marriage was blessed with two children, Dina Atieno (born 1970), and Martin Odera (born 1971).

The second part of the book follows (Martin) Odera Odenyo in going back to his father’s roots in Africa and looking at the area that Amos had grown up in. This is where we see the documentaries about the schools in the village of Got Regea in Kenya and the reasons for promoting the book to raise awareness for their efforts to collect money to build proper facilities for the children in this area… to quote the website:

The village of Got Regea (in Gem, Kenya) is requesting your assistance in collecting books. Our goal is to create our first library. There are currently no facilities in Got Regea that offer this valuable learning resource. As a result, the community is deprived of one of the most basic centers of learning. Without access to books, literacy skills stagnate, professional opportunities disappear, and the cycle of poverty continues.

You can help turn this trend around by donating educationally oriented books, such as textbooks, history books, math and science manuals, encyclopedias, etc. Since electricity has recently been brought to Got Regea, we are also seeking to acquire a few computers for educational training. Most residents of Got Regea have never even seen a computer. A section of Got Regea’s library can be set aside for computers that will be used for technical familiarization and/or academic research through the use of CD-ROMS, DVDs, etc.

Local members of the Got Regea community are standing by to provide material, labor, and the use of land for the construction of Got Regea’s first library. However, we need your help to turn such an empty building into a vibrant and much needed beacon of hope and learning.

I have to admit that I have learnt so much about Kenya old and new from this book, the fascinating videos and the informative website. It was merely by chance that I came across the video. It shows what wonders exist out there if we are fortunate enough to discover them.

I hope that I may have played a small part in bringing more attention by the educational community to the book, videos and website.