Via Nduta Kamau (The Standard)
A group of 30 residents from Kinna, Guba Dida village have setup a cultural village that has become an attraction to newly weds. The residents teamed up as a self-help group, Malka Bisinadi cultural village, constituting 18 women and 12 men in 2004.
They integrated the services of the Elders in the community to assist in the cultural perspective of the village. The cultural village is aimed at promoting eco tourism and preserving the Borana culture which seems to be eroding day by day with the influence of the Western values.
According to the Secretary of the group Nura Kampura “We are preserving our culture and at the same time tapping on the tourist’s visiting the Meru National Park where we border. “ The visitors are treated like royalties and in the evening around a bonfire, cultural dances and exotic traditions are performed in the ambiance of the wild.
Located just 100km from Isiolo town on the Eastern side bordering Meru National Park, a small town is bustling with farming and ecotourism activities.
At the Malka, you get to experience a different setup unlike any other honey moon suite. The suites which are called Minn Arossa in Borana are built on the day of the wedding. As custom dictates the building of a house is the work of the women, they embark on intertwining the sticks and thatch using a material called gela and a rope made from the bark of the Acacia tree. Once the Minn Arossas are ready the women work on the interior. Here, a thatched bed is made and an extra bed is made for relaxation.
In the honey-moon suites, there’s a special hole meant for the lady in preparation for the husband; an aphrodisiac of sorts for the couple. Hot coal is placed at the base of the hole and the scented stones made of herbal-bark forors, udi, perfume and sugar are placed on top where they burn producing a beautiful scent. The bride, after showering and oiling herself, she is fully covered not to let the scent disappear and stands with her legs apart to allow the perfume to enter her body.
“It is meant for the honeymooners, according to tradition,” says Makai Mtalo, Chairlady, Bisanadi Cultural village. The scent goes into the lady’s clothing and body in readiness for her husband. The scent once spotted by the man is able to know that her woman is ready for him.
Makai says “It is meant to set a romantic mood for the couple and a general nice smell for the lady more like an aphrodisiac and highly recommended for honeymooners.”
“We have preserved the indigenous trees for the perfume in the village to help generate more of the perfume,” says Makai.
The group which has received 10 honeymooners has constructed 33 Minn Arossas to accommodate tourists who seek to experience the Borana culture at the campsite. The visitors pay Sh2,000 for full board services and in the evening they are entertained with cultural dances. The neighbouring Meru National Park offers visitors relaxing game drives.
Makai has praises for the village “Cultural village has helped the women to be busy and to be more self-reliant. We invest the money we get in private development projects, like I now want to build a permanent house for my family.”
Just like every good deed, the group has had its fair share of challenges. On the onset, the community was not receptive to their idea and local leaders have not offered support. They also have had challenges in marketing and getting good traffic of tourists to the village. During the recent Disaster Risk Reduction Day the Agro-pastoralists were urged to build resilience against the changing weather patterns and join such noble groups.