Sep 24, 2006

From West Pokot, Marina writes....

I flew back to eldoret - only to spend the next four working days in the field - and then the weekend at this insanely surreal BEAUTY PAGEANT in the middle of west pokot - so I've only just returned tothe world of hitech communication (ie. a phone and a computer - let alone food other than ugali, sukuma, and goat meat - but no matter). the beauty pageant was an effort conceived and developed by R., that Swiss german
60-something year old I was telling you about who came to kenya and never left, always with a pipe in his mouth, gray curly hair, glasses, basically the look of the absent-minded professor — with a german accent. Basically, he's an entrepeneur who loves women. So, why not bring tourism/good press to west pokot by creating this 'peace beauty contest' that will have as its contestants 10 girls from four warring
districts/tribes? of course, there are some complications: mainly, what is beautiful? But, no matter, he and his pokot (female) assistant, pushed forward, and in the end, they found a sponsor to fund the 7 million kenyan shillings (about $700,000) to have this event at the turkwel dam (the heart of dispute between the pokots and the turkanas), inviting more than 1000 people, including the vice president (who arrived by helicopter - and stayed for all of 5 minutes) - so we all languished in the dry, thorny heat, enjoying warm soda and beer, watching these
'beauties' parade by in all their beaded, naked splendor... Definitely a site to behold - and never to be seen again. I left claustrophobic from the crowds and
filthy port-o-potties, disgusted with white men and their presumptuous, patriarchal bullshit, and sunburned by the incredibly unforgivable sun.

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