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Title:AFRICAN VILLAGE LIFE IN THE NAIROBI DISTRICT [Allocated Title]
Film Number:AYY 1164
Summary: A glimpse into the lives of Kenya's African population.
Description: START 10:30:58 A family group of Kikuyu women perform domestic tasks such as preparing meals and looking after infants. A group of male elders seated in a semi-circle drink maize beer through long straws from the same pot.
10:32:58 Six women, who have just undergone female circumcision and wearing robes and face masks to denote their condition, are led by their guardian, an older woman, into a large circular daub and wattle hut. As they enter, they leave small bundles of wood like Roman fasces to warn male passsers-by not to enter. A young man who tries to enter their hut is sent packing by their guardian. Eventually, the six women leave and take their stick bundles with them.
10:35:20 A herd of African cattle is rounded up by African herdsmen and each animal is led through a narrow corridor fabricated from wood into a holding pen, presumably once each beast has been counted.
10:36:29 A young African woman, almost bent double by the weight of leaves she is carrying on her back, trudges homewards.
10:37:04 African villagers attend a traditional rural market where the traders have spread their wares on the ground. A young woman sells goat's milk to two customers. A blind musician sings and plays on a tube fiddle known locally as an 'endingidi'.
10:39:19 A group of young men taking part in a betrothal or coming-of-age ceremony dance rhythmically in a circle. Large numbers of young people join in the dancing, including adolescent girls wearing distinctive headbands and necklaces. Many have daubed their bodies and faces with pale dots and whirly patterns. One girl wears her hair in a distinctive beehive style.
10:42:00 A group of older men dance in a circle. Many have daubed their torsos with pale markings. One man has a smoking pipe.
10:44:12 African cattle herders prepare their cattle for branding by physically flooring their beasts and tying their hooves tightly together. A hot metal branding iron is applied to one side of their faces. Afterwards, an African vet gives one animal an injection.
Production Details: Directorate of Public Relations, War Office (Production sponsor)
Army Film and Photographic Unit (Production company)
Wernham, John19072007(1907-2007) British soldier, photographer and osteopath. Sergeant John Wernham (Production individual)
Personalities, Units and Organisations:
Keywords: East Africa 1939-1945 (theme)
Empire & Commonwealth (theme)
Technical Details: Format: 16mm
Number of items/reels/tapes: 1
Footage: 362 ft; Running time: 14 mins 30 secs
Notes: Summary: John Wernham recorded audio commentary over this film on 14 May 1992, DVD Reel 1 "Reel 3" from 20.36 to 30.35.
The scenes showing the circumcised women are particularly noteworthy. Attempts by European Christian missionaries and the colonial authorities in Kenya to suppress female genital mutilation led to widespread protests among the Kikuyu population in the late 1920s and early 1930s and became the issue around which the first serious political challenge to British colonial rule developed.
Remarks: This material, together with the rest of Wernham's film record of his time in East Africa, constitutes a valuable and possibly unique pictorial record of this period in the region's colonial history.