The Parable Of The Zebra

One girl occasionally petted my head, trying to get my Pentecostal hair to lay down. The rest of the groupies peppered me with questions.


I felt like an oddity in a sideshow – Like siamese twins or the snake boy, a giant white stickman from across the ocean is quite a spectacle for the kids of the Maasai tribe.

Shaun Groves with Compassion International girls in Kenya

“How many children do you have?” one asked in perfect English.

“How old are you?”

“What is your favorite meat?” they asked.

Shaun Groves talking with Kenyan Compassion International children

I answered all of these questions with a straight face and total lies. Thankfully, these girls have been given the gift of interpretation for my gift of sarcasm. Good job, Compassion. The ice was broken.

“I have 27 children.”

“I am 70 years old.”

“I like to eat lions. But they’re hard to catch now that I’m 70. I’m not very fast anymore.”

Shaun Groves joking with Kenyan Compassion International children

Then we talked about Beyonce’s music, and how to kill a cobra, and sang Lord I Lift Your Name On High with much more groove than I’m accustomed to. And one girl advised, out of nowhere, that I never eat a zebra no matter how hungry I get because they are beautiful.

Shaun Groves talking with Kenyan Compassion International children

Then Penini, a girl sitting on my left who’d been petting my skin the entire time, asked me, “Why are you white?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “God just made me white and made you beautiful brown.”

Shaun Groves talking with beautiful Penini

“I’m not beautiful,” she said with an appreciative grin. So I played along and told her again.

“You girls are all very beautiful.” And they smiled.

“Why did God make black and white people?”

“Well, that’s a great question,” I said, and I took Penini’s fingers and wove them into mine. Black. White. Black. White.

“These two colors are beautiful together don’t you think? Like a zebra.”

They seemed to like that answer. And they said I should sponsor a girl from Kenya because they are the most beautiful.

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This post made possible with photos from the very talented Ryan Detzel & Keely Scott.

Sponsor a child in Kenya through Compassion International