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Habari Gani?
(Swahili for “What’s the news?”)

John Linsley ’04 (KSP fall ’02)
169 Perkins Row
Topsfield, MA 01983
jlinsley@gmail.com

Longtime Kenya Program cook Alex Tesot, right, with Andrea Bye ’06.

Alumni and friends of the Kenya Semester Program will be saddened to learn that Alex Tesot recently retired after over 22 years as the KSP’s cook. Alex was a cheerful and welcoming figure to all who visited the KSP center in Karen, and is warmly remembered by KSP alumni for the hearty food he cooked, his good humor and his enthusiastic encouragement of their first efforts at speaking Swahili.

Alex started as the KSP cook in 1985. He had been a chef for the Chevron oil company, and also worked in NairobiHospital’s catering department and at Kichwa Tembo safari camp in the Maasai Mara Game Reserve.

When he came to Karen in 1985, St. Lawrence did not own the campus; it was rented from the Cottar family, who ran a tour company. Alex recalls how different it looked.  “The Barn,” now a popular dorm for up to four students, was the garage where the Cottars’ tourist vehicles were repaired. The study center housed safari clients. The building that houses the seminar room, library, computer lab and staff offices was the home for the younger generation of the Cottar family, while the older generation lived in what is now the house of KSP Associate Director Lina Karingi.  Part of what is now KSP Administrative Director Wairimu Ndirangu’s house was the KSP office, but part of it was also a Cottar family house. The house where KSP Academic Director Abdelwahab Sinnary now lives did not exist in 1985, Alex says, nor did the support staff housing, borehole, or water tank.

Alex worked with many KSP administrators over the years, including Paul Robinson, Howard Brown, David Shafer, Alice Pomponio, Dick Perry, Andrea Mshila, Mwenda Ntarangwi and Celia Nyamweru. For several years he worked with Associate Professor of Anthropology John Barthelme’s Magadi archaeology field school and took part in KSP field components in Samburu and Taita. He remembers that the first student groups he cooked for were as large as 32.

Alex also recalls hosting St. Lawrence President Daniel F. and Ann H. Sullivan when they visited Kenya in 2000.  He joined the cooking team when they traveled Samburu to present classrooms built with the donations of St. Lawrence alumni. Recently, Alex assisted in facilitating arrangements for the KSP’s new rural homestay location in Buret, located near his home district of Bomet.

Over the years Alex has been extremely generous and welcoming to St. Lawrence students, always on standby for Swahili coaching and ready to introduce them to Kenyan dishes, using sign language when necessary.  Alex has been an integral part of the KSP experience; he will be warmly remembered and greatly missed.

Recently, Alex has faced a number of health problems, including a spinal condition which has made it difficult for him to stand for long periods of time. This has forced him to retire a few years earlier than planned. He has returned to his home, where he hopes to supplement his pension by operating a grinding mill. This should provide him with a reliable source of income in this predominantly agricultural area so that he may support his large family and other dependents.

We are appealing to KSP alumni to help Alex purchase and set up the grinding mill.  The total cost is estimated at about $5,000.  Any donation is welcome, however small, that helps reach this target.  The St. Lawrence University Business Office has kindly agreed to process checks, so that the total can eventually be transferred to Kenya through the KSP office in Karen, and then safely onto Alex.

Checks should be made payable to St. Lawrence University with ‘Alex Tesot’ written on the subject line, and mailed to Celia Nyamweru, Anthropology Department, St. Lawrence University, Canton, NY 13617. The deadline for receiving donations is April 1, 2008.

Please be advised that this is a personal donation to Alex Tesot and as such is not a donation to St. Lawrence, and thus is not tax-exempt.

Sincere thanks, or as Alex would say in Swahili, Asante Sana, or in his own Kalenjin language, Kongoi Mising.

Summer 2003 Entry
Fall 2003 Entry
Winter 2004 Entry
Spring 2004 Entry
Summer 2004 Entry
Fall 2005 Entry
Spring 2006 Entry
Summer 2006 Entry
Report of Appreciation 2006
Winter 2007 Entry
Spring 2007 Entry
Summer 2007 Entry
Report of Appreciaton 2007

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