Family Search Bursts Forth in Kenya

Family Search Bursts Forth in Kenya

Family Search International moves eastward through all of Africa saving stories in genealogies through oral interviews.

News Release

FamilySearch International moves eastward through all of Africa, saving stories and genealogies through oral interviews and records the history and genealogy to connect the past and the future.

                

Thierry Mutombo is spear-heading the Oral Genealogy project for FamilySearch International through The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. FamilySearch is a private non-profit organization which uses support from each country’s government and employs people in the community to assistance in collecting the oral stories and genealogies

The work started in Ghana in 2003, and other countries such as Ivory Coast in 2007 and D.R. Congo in 2015 and is moving forward into 8 countries, including Kenya. A managing field agent is needed to secure Village Entry—a process to obtain permission from the clan or tribal chief and council and to explain the importance of preserving the histories, culture and genealogies. In most cases the agreements come easily because, as the saying goes, “When an old man dies it’s like a library burned to the ground.”

Field workers invite all the relatives to meet and begins the interview with recording by audio and video on their android phones until the power source is exhausted. The collecting and preserving is a tedious process which requires checking and verifying stories. The genealogies and data collected are then sent to Salt Lake City, to make it available to all the world.

          

 One might be amazed at the old elders still living, who remember all their history. They don’t keep track of dates but events such as World War II or the great rains or long drought that can be pin-pointed through the country’s department services. Estimates are given to birthdates, marriages and deaths dates. Ask an old elder what his birthday is and he’ll respond, “I can have a birthday party any day of the year or none at all.”

    

The stories and genealogies are written in English and Swahili and printed in a bound copy and given back to each family and village. The families and village chiefs express to field workers, they are an answer to prayers— “Where have you been all this time? What took you so long?”

        

A field agent related the story of arriving to do the village entry and in doing so, he found he must also do the cultural process with the ancestors. He was asked to take off his shoes, go to the river and drop money and ask some names for permission. Suddenly the sky filled with dark clouds overhead and poured rain—but only in that small circumference. The chief told the field agent that the ancestors had consented by sending the rain and were grateful for the work to be done.

 Gathering the relatives together and writing the stories can resolve cultural fights, bring peace and connect people and families. Young people who move out of their birthlands, never to return, now have access to their own family tree—history and genealogies—through the on-line program. There is no cost and open to all people. See  www.familysearch.org

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