In this miniature valley, thick with crops and grass among banana trees, several thousand brightly dressed people arranged themselves on this misty gray morning.
They were here for a special "Harambee Day" - "togetherness" in the Kenyan national tongue - and among the guests on the platform with the guest speaker, Kenyan Vice President Mwai Kibaki, was D.C. Mayor Marion Barry.
Although there were hymns, a sermon and prayers, the ultimate purpose of this gathering was the collection of coins and bills that tumbled into bucket-sized woven baskets passed among the people, seated on folding chairs under tents or huddled together on the damp ground.
The group here crossed all tribal, language, age and denominational lines. The project is to provide the Anglican diocese of Mount Kenya with funds for training priests, for scholarships and for other church needs, but the contributions came from every segment of this coffee and tea-growing countryside section about 10 miles from Nairobi.
It was an occasion that elicited from Barry a variety of remarks, alternatively vigorous or philosophical, about his African experience. Now in his third country on a two-week tour, Barry talked of the contrasts he has seen and, most emphatically, of his conclusion that the United States must do more for Africa.
"There's hardly any lobby for Africa in Washington," Barry said, "and there is, for example, a very powerful Jewish lobby."
Barry said he thinks he is the person to fill that vacuum. "Why not?" he asked. "I work 14 or 16 hours a day. I can take an hour off to testify before a [congressional] committee."
He said he also intends to try to influence the Agency for International Development to expand its "philosophy" to include larger projects for Africa, such as hydroelectric power projects.
The deepest impressions made on him, Barry said, were "the serious problems of economic development and of trying to raise the standards of living" and education and "of seeing people with so little doing so much."
Barry also said he has been struck by the extent to which Africans and their politicians are at the mercy of nature.
"You could be the best president or mayor in the world," Barry said, "but after a couple of years of drought your leadership is thoroughly tested."
Barry said he is still indignant that anyone would inquire why he went on the trip. "No one would ever question [New York City Mayor] Ed Koch going to Israel," Barry said.
"If nothing else comes out of this trip, just being away from Washington and getting a different perspective is beneficial to the citizens of the District," he said.
Barry said he had found strong differences in the countries and cities he has seen so far on his trip. Liberia, he said, struck him as a primarily African country in its speech, the bearing of the people and its cultures. Barry said he found Senegal and Kenya as different as their locations on opposite coasts of the continent.
Nairobi, a clean city of landscaped parks and broad streets, "clearly has a higher standard of living which probably relates to the difference in the way the French and British handled their colonies. The British built up so they could live here [in Kenya].
Barry said he has found the same "warmth and enthusiasm" in all his stops in Africa as well as a "common interest [among Africans] in black Americans and in Washington, D.C."
Barry said he was amazed that the mayors of Dakar and Monrovia spent as much time with him as they did. Mayor Edward David of Monrovia became "almost a constant companion," Barry said, a kindness he probably will not be able to reciprocate in full when the visit is repaid.
Harambee, self-help through cooperative effort, is the legacy of the venerated father of Kenyan nationalism, the late Jomo Kenyatta, who died last year. The slogan he popularized when he came home in 1961 from British detention with the dream of a self-sufficient and independent Kenya appears to continue to inspire its 14 million people.
Not to stretch the similarities, Barry got his start in Washington politics with a government-funded self-help program, Pride Inc.
After the solemn Anglican prayers and hymns sung in Swahili, and the passing of the baskets, more than 2 million Kenyan shillings were taken in, according to one report - about $250,000.
When the program ended, Barry said he was impressed with how Harambee has worked. "It has added a new dimension" to his African experience, the mayor said.
Said Mary Njattu, a member of the local diocesan development committee that sponsored the event, "If you have a heavy load, everyone lifts together - that's Harambee." CAPTION: Picture, D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, second from right, poses with Monrovia Mayor Edward David, right, on last day of Barry's Liberia visit. With them are Effi Barry and D.C. Democratic Chairman Robert J. Washington. AP