“There shall come a people with hair like sisal fibers. With vehicles dominating the land, water, and sky. They would see young girls giving birth to babies and they (the people with white hair) would take snuff(tobacco). When this comes to pass, you will see an abrasion of our culture and theft of our land.” Mepoho, my ancestor, prophesied the coming of the white man before the earth split open and she was swallowed.
Rabai is located 25km from Mombasa where I grew up. Thrice a year during school break, my cousins and I would converge at my grandparents’ house. My grandfather, Japhet Karuku Jindwa, was an electrician by day and jazzist at night, playing drums at a popular club in Mombasa. When electricity finally arrived in Rabai, he was commissioned to wire St. Paul’s church.
St. Paul’s Church played an integral part in the history of Christianisation in East Africa; it was the first church edifice that was built in 1846 by the missionaries. Not far lies Kaya Mudzi Muvya, a sacred forest where the few Rabai that were not converted into Christianity still hold their prayers among other significant cultural and spiritual practices.
A Kaya elder by the name Jindwa, welcomed the German missionary from the Church Society of England, Dr. Ludwig Kraft, and later gave him 92 acres of land not far from the Kaya known as Wamisheni settlement; the area my paternal family settled and established a home.
This project is an exploration of a familiar yet unfamiliar realm. My ancestral dwelling where a prophecy continues to pass. As I attempt to reimagine myself as my ancestors’ spirit, I photograph Rabai in search of our history.