Around the World in 52 Weeks – Kenya



We took our journey to Kenya last year, but it has taken me a ridiculously long time to actually write this post.  I guess I can’t even blame TSA for this delay!  We began our trip by reading a few Kenyan folk tales.  John Tyman’s site has an excellent anthology of these tales.  Its interesting, after reading through the Kenyan stories and fables from many other countries, I’ve really noticed a strong “cautionary tale” theme seems to run through them all.  Not quite “Goodnight Moon”!

Most of all, the kids wanted to learn about the animals of Kenya – particularly who-eats-whom. We looked at pictures of giraffes, elephants, lions, leopard, cheetah, and wild dogs.  The coolest part was that many of these animals are right here at the Roger Williams Zoo, so we got to see them ‘in person’.

For our culinary venture, against my kids’ wishes, I decided to try a version of Irio.  I thought it was decent, by my kids wouldn’t even try it, which was kind of funny because they actually like all the ingredients in it.  Go figure.  There are many variations of this recipe, but this is pretty much the version that we used.



  • 2 cups corn
  • 2 cups red kidney beans
  • 4 potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 2 cups spinach, kale or pumpkin leaves
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Boil potatoes until soft, about 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside.
  2. In a large pot, combine the corn, beans, and spinach/kale/leaves and cook over low to medium heat until vegetables are soft.
  3. Add the cooked potatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Mash the mixture with a fork or wooden spoon. 


As it turned out, I taught an Art Masters session on worldwide ceremonial masks to my daughter’s class around this same time last year, and we focussed quite a bit on African masks. We discussed the cultural relevance of masks and how they could represent ancestors, animals, spirits or other entities that were important in the lives of the mask-makers.  The kids in the class tried their hand at creating their own masks using many natural materials like seeds and nuts, as well as, sequins, yarn, and paper.

African Masks 1

African Masks Made By 1st Graders

Next stop, Latvia!

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