Thursday, April 3, 2008

Kwaheri Tuonane

So my month long journey is coming to an end, and I must bid Kenya "Kwaheri Tuonane" (Swahili for "Goodbye" & "See you soon"). I definitely feel quite accomplished on varioius planes (no pun intended) and feel a richness in my life that comes so freely when you see other lands and interact with people from different backgrounds and cultures. Travelling no matter how short or how far is a curative against ennui. It is kind of hard to yawn when on the move.

Having stayed in Kisumu for almost two weeks and visited around the area, I feel the duty to give more positive coverage beyond the riots and the violence. Here are some of my highlights from my time here.

  • In the Nandi Hills there are gorgeous tea estates and fields of sugar cane.

  • The province of Karemo that encompasses Kisumu is home of the Luos (Odinga is a Luo) as well as other tribes like the Masai. It is also the tribe of Barack Obama. This area where we will conduct our TB studies is the area that Obama's Dad grew up. We to a trip out to Siaya (a township in Karemo) and I got to meet the Chiefs of the location (Kenya is organized such that you have the country--the province--the district--the location--the sublocations--the villages--the compounds--the individual). In addition, I visited Obama's grandmother's house and met a cousin (the grandmother was out and about). They said she has been getting so many visitors from media especially during Super Tuesday. Near by, the school that Obama's father attended was named after him during his visit. Interesting to note if Kenyans were allowed to vote in the U.S. elections, those that support Odinga would vote for Obama and those that side with Kibaki would vote for Clinton (there was actually a survey).

  • Kisumu has the most bikers I have seen per capita. On the roads you have the bikes (boda bodas), the tuk tuks, the matatus (vans), fish trucks, other trucks, cars, cattle, goats, and pedestrians. They also drive on the wrong side of the road, but I think I will take a taxi in this instance instead of renting a car). On the news the other day, I say that the majority of traffic accidents in the world are in Africa. When you drive around, you can see why.

  • People are so hosipitable. They are always saying "welcome" and "pleasure". They think nothing of inviting strangers for dinner and they always allow the guest to have the last bit of food. There is the feeling of community and the extended family beyond your immediate reach. I think Kenyans (at least one did) view Americans as selfish in many ways which although being wealthy in material things puts them in a place of a sort of poverty--poverty of the soul or spirit.

  • I was taken out to a local hang out and had some of the best smoked chicken I think I have ever tasted, at least in a long time; although, the guy cooking was Ugandan.

  • The internet was atrocious (maybe too strong, let's say "inconsistent"), but I guess sometimes one needs to slow down and take a break from the madness that is the net--a staple in the modern world.

  • Do you know that men still have to pay dowry if they want to marry a woman (although it may not be practiced as much). There are still a few animals involved, but they have incorporated monetary forms of payment for some animal requirements.
  • There are so many exotic birds and flowers to see. One bird is so loud and sounds like a child crying out.
  • If from my treatise you feel the need to visit Kisumu, you will find yourself flying into the most minute airport you have ever seen. You may think you have arrived at someone's house. The baggage claim is the driveway next to the building. The entrance and security check are one and the same. You may question where you have arrive to, but don't be scared for you have reached Kisumu (a normally peaceful region with that one exception).

Next time I come I will try and do a little vacation before or after and go to Mombasa and Lamu (suggestion from a friend who says their is much fun there). I am in London and soon to reach home soil. Thank you for tuning in for this journey and I hope that you will continue on. There is a little rest for me for about a month or so, but I will still write here and there to keep you abreast of the plans and preparations. I would check biweekly though instead of weekly unless you want to peruse my lovely photos and informative lists. Will write soon my "rifiki" (friend).