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Day 13 (July 8, 2011): The Life and Contributions of Muteti
July 8, 2011
Muteti Nume was 18 years old when he left home without a shilling. With six younger siblings, his parents were too poor to send him to secondary school. Today, decades later, Muteti is the foreman of my Kenyan crew, and has been working with me for the past 28 years. This post will provide a closer look at Muteti, his life, and how he went from a rural Kenyan farmer to the leader of the Olorgesailie excavation team.
He quickly developed a forte for running excavations efficiently and methodically; his skills in recognizing and cleaning fossils and stone artifacts also flourished. Muteti worked at Turkana for four to six months out of the year for 15 years.
Then, in 1984, Muteti was recommended as an excavator on my first expedition to southern Kenya. A year later, a number of us supported Muteti’s bid for a full time position at the National Museums of Kenya in Nairobi, and he ended up working there for many years as a Lab Technician cleaning bones and recording them in the Museums’ catalog.
Every morning in the field, probably my first meaningful conversation of the day is with Muteti, as we plan together what work will go on, decide which field vehicles will go to which excavations, and we discuss the health of the Kenyan crew.
Today Muteti has a lovely wife, Joyce, and several children. Although his own education was cut short, Muteti has managed to put two of his children through university, all while supporting his entire family. When he’s not at Olorgesailie, Muteti works on his farm in Machakos where he grows maize, beans, pumpkins, and peanuts.