October 7, 2018

“When [the Masai] gave you their word or made a promise, it meant something,” the author David Read (1922-2015) said to me in his last days, during an interview at his home in rural Tanzania. “They were also very generous. If they were laying on a feast and you were around, you were automatically invited. That meant you ate a lot of meat and drank a lot of their beer. In the early days in [the vill...

November 1, 2016

Until the 19th century, Westerners knew little about sub Saharan Africa and what they did know, was often through what they could glean from Muslim North Africans, who acted as the middle men between what was once a trans Saharan gold trade that linked Europe and Africa. This was before the silver and gold of the New World changed everything and the locus of European interest moved to the Americas...

September 1, 2016

Darwin was the first to argue that our ancestors evolved in Africa and time has shown him to be right. And so this last epistle before we travel is about books that give us a Darwinian perspective on East Africa.

First and foremost when we contemplate prehistoric people we should never forget that modern evolutionary psychologists believe that our  basic instincts are hunter gatherer. That is to say...

February 1, 2015

 “It is impossible that a town will not play a part in your life, it does not even make much difference whether you have more good or bad things to say of it, it draws your mind to it, by a mental law of gravitation.” 
                            - Karen Blixen, Out of Africa

Going and Coming

In Charles Miller’s marvelous narrativ...

October 7, 2014

Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park is home to the largest number of wild animals in any one place in the world. The pastoral Maasai tribe who live around the park call it “Serengit,” which means endless plain. It is what the Earth looked like when our ancestors left this rift valley country a mere 50,000 years ago, to populate the rest of the world. The Serengeti has changed little since then. For...

January 9, 2011

It started with a Cuban song, Sofrito, recorded by Mongo Santamaria Y Amigas on the Fantasy record label in early 1960s, just after the Cuban revolution. In Spanish Sofrito means “lightly fried” as in an open air restaurant and I suspect the word has something to do with the Cuban male fascination for brown skinned women, not quite black and not quite white.

Although Sofrito is an instrumental piec...

May 2, 1993

In order to provide for the sustainability of the successful irrigation development intervention in Kenya, the Participatory Rural Appraisal was created to develop a set of rules providing the legal basis of a Farmer's Association in West Pokot. The full appraisal is a 150 page document which can be downloaded and viewed by clicking here.

There are 8 parts to the Appraisal, and the Executive Summary...

January 11, 1992

In 1992, Geoffrey Clarfield was the Team Leader for the National Biodiversity Report prepared by the National Museums of Kenya and The Republic of Kenya for The United Nations. The full 54 page report can be downloaded and viewed by clicking here, and is comprised of 7 main sections:

I) Introduction

II) The Nature of Kenyan Society

III) An Evolutionary Taxonomy of Kenyan Society

IV) A Social Taxonomy o...

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© 2020 by Geoffrey Clarfield