"I have nothing to offer anyone except my own confusion." Jack Kerouac
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 The fire crackled.
In the dark night of Lemoru, miles from the nearest electric light, secure in the now familiar blanket of the African night sky, the murmuring began to subside. I looked into endless space with its stars trailing out and away like living glitter and I wondered, What was it? Why had this boy from Metairie, Louisiana really wandered so far from home?
James Sawe stood. The fresh cool night air became silent as Jim looked into the fire and took a deep breath. “Arap Seronei, do you want to know why we chose you?”
Earlier that day I had been calling out commands. “Fighting stance! Reverse punch.Ready — Hana!” The rows of eager young Nandi warriors responded with pride and purpose. These were the same boys, now almost men, who had begun the journey with me.
“A true warrior does not oppress the poor and the weak. A true warrior protects the poor and the weak. I will only teach you karate if you will promise to be a true warrior.” Four years of training and they were indeed becoming true warriors.
The young men who had continued the tradition begun four years before were now proud, strong and courageous.
“Courage is not the absence of fear but the will to go on despite fear. Will you be courageous?”
“Osu!” came the loud chant.
“A true warrior finishes what he starts. Never quit. Never give up!”
“Osu!” echoed through the trees and down the valley lined with huts made of mud and grass.
“You are the future of Kenya. You are the future of Africa. Esse Quam Videri. To be, rather than to seem. Be warriors. Be men! Be Nandi!”
Now surrounded by Nandi people, face to face with James Sawe who had fought alongside the Nandi freedom fighter Seronei, facing the future Nandi warriors in the dark of the night with its endless witness of stars, I was ready for the answer. Why had I been asked to build a hospital in an area where women walked sixty kilometers to deliver a baby?