August 1, 2004
In a couple weeks our field season will end. Instead of waiting for the last Saturday evening, I decided that last night was a good time for our annual goat roast and camp party. Every year I buy a goat and present it to our field excavation crew to thank them for their hard work during the season. They, in turn, invite me and the others to join them for dinner - with some music and dancing after the feast.
So last night, we all sat around the large campfire and ate roast goat, ugali (a cornmeal dish), and salad. After dinner, the crew called for speeches to mark the occasion - and, as usual, they asked me to start. I thanked them for the work they've done and for our interesting finds so far this season. I told them how proud and happy I am that we've all worked so well together for so many years. I vividly recalled the times when we were a small group of about 10 people gathered around the campfire, and now we've grown to over 35. The crew is really remarkable for the way they've assisted the visiting researchers, especially people who had never visited Kenya and our camp before. I also thanked the local Maasai members of the crew for peaceful times we have shared with the people of the area. The foreman, Muteti Nume, also spoke, praising the work and togetherness of the crew. Two of the elders got up to speak: George Mumo, who said the crew appreciates the opportunity to do this kind of work; and Vincent Kimeu, who gave a humorous speech about finally proving that early humans actually lived at Olorgesailie, even though they must have because of all the stone tools. The speeches were given in Kikamba, Swahili, and English - and it was the humor and emotion of the time around the campfire that made the evening special.
After all the speeches, we put on some music for dancing. We have three really good guitar players in camp - Musyoka Kanunga, Francis Musila, and Nzioki Mativo. Some years ago, they formed a camp band and called themselves "The Olorgesailie Taxi Driver Band." The music usually starts with the band playing their signature song, "Taxi Driver". But this year, the leader of the band, Musyoka, hasn't been feeling too well, so they had the night off. Instead, we listened to Kamba music on cassette tapes - and we certainly had fun, as you can see, dancing around the cassette player under the light of the full moon.