Tuesday, March 17, 2009

On being a Middle Child

     In Kenya being a first born son brings about rights.  The first born son inherits the land from his parents after they have passed.  Land is Kenya even for professionals is very important and carries with it high esteem.   If a man has very little land and asks for a daughters hand in marriage he may be declined.
      Today I was able to give my mother a tour of Tenwek Hospital. We were first asked by Lillian in Dental, "Is he your first born?"  
     "No," Madelle replied.  "He is my third."
      Then Gladys in Community Health spoke, "It's so nice to meet you.  Is Malin your first born son?"
     "No, he is my third of four." Madelle answered.
      Then we found Lena in Supplies, she asked, "Would he be your first born son?"  
     Madelle sincerely said, "No, Malin is not my first child."
    This same question about birth order was asked 6 times as we walked the grounds of Tenwek.  We were amused and charmed.   But this was clearly significant in their eyes.  Each response of "No Malin is not my first born," was followed by silence.
      We chuckled together as we contemplated the humorous cultural differences here in Kenya. Birth order matters, and to Darin my older brother you are highly esteemed and respected here in Kenya!


Ana (3rd born and female!) said...

Hilarious! Glad Dad said "yes" when you asked to marry Sara even though you don't inherit any land! And from one middle child to another, I always liked flying under the radar...it's more fun :) Can't wait to see you guys in a couple weeks!

Anonymous said...

Oh Darin, you just have to take this in and use it. What a great story, Malin. May your esteem rise in the eyes of your staff - oh, I forgot, Jesus is to bear the esteem and you are to serve.

May my Chai's smile say it all - Laffing Dawg that he is,
Bend, OR

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Anonymous said...

That is too funny. I can't believe you've been asked that many times! I suppose as the youngest I should feel offended, and what about Megan... does she just get skipped right over? On the otherhand, I feel like I married into royalty. Jason is the oldest son and grandson on both sides of his family!


Megan N said...

Interesting that this old old custom still exists in many places.