(Swahili for “What’s the news?”)
John Linsley ’04 (KSP fall ’02)
169 Perkins Row
Topsfield, MA 01983
|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.
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
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.
of Appreciation 2006
Spring 2007 Entry
Summer 2007 Entry
Report of Appreciaton 2007