Dr. Makorani-a-Mungase VII, the King of Pokomo tribe in Kenya, Africa visited Barka NL in Utrecht on 08.03.2015. Dr Pokomo was on his way back from visiting Barka Network in Poland, where he honored the ceremony  of including the Barka Chairman, Tomasz Sadowski, to the Council of Elders of the Pokomo Community.  Tomasz Sadowski is the first non-tribal member acknowledged with such a honor. The meeting over dinner with the King began with the introduction of each participant: Barka staff members: leaders working with the homeless people in the streets of Dutch cities,  two assistants with their families and the coordinator. Dr. Makorani described in a few words the tribe he is leading. We were to find out that Pokomo community gathers 11 tribes which live along the Tana River in the Tana River County in Kenya. Approximately 200.000 Pokomo people live  on a vast area of land. Agriculture and fishing being their main activities. The geographic location and different influences the history had brought, made it possible that Muslims and Christians live now peacefully one with another in atmosphere of mutual respect. From that probably they gained the great sense of tolerance and eagerness to open to new which could be seen in their unique decision of receiving a European member to their Council of Elders. Tomasz Sadowski will take part in the  gatherings of the Council of Elders,  where all the important decisions regarding the Pokomo community will be taken.

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Dr. Makorani was keen to express his admiration towards the leaders who have learned to fight with their addiction, have found the power and help to rebuild their lives from the bottom of their existence. His respect for the leaders’ work could also be observed in the mindful and respectful manner he listened to each one of them and to all participants of the meeting.  His Majesty even took notes when during the discussion he found the opinions and recommendations expressed by Barka staff interesting for Pokomo community. Dr Makorani told us also about his family and his warm and open attitude resulted in a great atmosphere of mutual understanding. We discussed the challenges which both Europeans and Africans are facing- social and economic reintegration of vulnerable and excluded individuals and groups and creating best mechanisms for that.

In general, the discourse of the King focused on mutual respect for which he used a suggestive metaphor. In his opinion, the relationship between two parties should be carried out as in a dance: each of the two dancing partners has to know when and how to step back for allowing the performance of the step of the other.

The meeting with Dr. Makorani was inspiring and enriching. We had a chance to hear about a land so far away from us, but we discovered that the thinking of Pokomo people, their hopes and dreams were very much like ours. The King underlined that in fact we are all brothers and sisters in this world.   We were happy to discover a King concerned about his people and interested in solving the social problems they are dealing with. A King eager to learn from the good practices and good attitudes that have inspired the Africans who were visiting Barka.

Pokomo community recognized in Barka a good partner to dance with, as Dr. Makorani would have said. It was a memorable Sunday afternoon. We are thrilled and amazed. May this cooperation bring fruitful results!

report made by Larisa Melinceanu and Marzena Mechleb