CAUTION! If you don’t like to read the self reflection of a plain boring German, then skip the first part until the next gap in the text, to read more about my experiences of Africa.
Important things first: The end of the day, I had a hard talk with the General. Maybe you wonder, why I didn’t mentioned the General before. Usually his orders and attention is not on me, so I had no reason to mention him before; just smiled, when other people had to run, when he shouts his commands. The General is the strict attitude of my lovely little princess host, when this tinny slim person want’s to get things done. I tell you, you will follow the command, if she wants you to move your a.. bum. This time the General prepared me in the morning, that bad things will happen, as soon as there is a time and space. I should have been afraid the hole day, but I don’t care much about bullets, when they don’t hit me. Anyway, it was another day full of excitement. But now about the bullets that hit me, and new informations about misunderstandings in all directions:
My lovely host was the last days not so lovely, but more sad. Now I know she became upset about my blog. I was thinking a long time if I should run a blog and I always refused to do so. Now that I am just amazed about the wonder of web design and content management, I need to do this blog, because I need content to design and manage. I also like to find out about myself with the help of this blog and this tour, and finally I have to keep my memories in line with writing it down. At least I feel like the guy form the “Peepshow” comic. You might know it or saw it in a book store. It is a interesting comic experiment with a printed diary. Usually people write a diary just for them self and maybe it is published after their death, when they and all the people mentioned in there are dead. That’s fine, because the people who read it have a more neutral look on the raw informations about the experiences and feelings of this person. The comic artist did just paint his more or less boring life. He showed all his failures and stand therefore naked in front of his audience. I am doing here kind of the same – but I spare you the most worst and awful parts of me. But the people who red his comic and found themselves in there, they just saw themselves throw the eyes of an other person – and they hated it. Therefore they hated the artist of the comic. He even painted that parts of his life. So do I. We always forget, that every bit of information run through the hole experiences of our individual lifetime, before it is placed somewhere in our mind. Therefore it is way far from being objective. There is no objectivity, and I am not the first who found it out. So first important message after this preparation: I am telling you MY experiences, if you forgot the idea of a blog. This is what I understand, what I know, what I found out, what I experienced. It is from MY background, with just MY knowledge and MY lacks of knowledge I fill with the informations I puzzle out, or someone tell me, and therefore I quote that here, don’t I did this? O.k., I did. This blog is exactly about ME, ME, ME. Then it is about MY view on Africa, from the few things I saw. I wasn’t born here, I wasn’t raised here, I not even had lived here for a while. So a lot of impressions might be wrong. But at the same time I am sure, that someone from my country or background would have similar impressions. What this blog is not about: It is not about the people I met. It is not about judging something with no proper inside knowledge. It is not about characterize people. It is not objective.
So what for you should read it? At first, enjoyment and plain curiosity. Like a little child, I just walk around and stare. I might not understand what’s going on around me, but I ask when I can, and most of the time I do what everybody does the hole day long – I compare all new things with the old things and experiences in my life. So if I compare something with Germany, then therefore, that I have no other scale. It is not about judging! Can’t say it often enough, until I found out, I was totally misunderstood in that point. Got it?
On the other hand, I am a struggling character with more self confidence than earn. I am the center of the universe, and all people are just minor actors, moving in and out a scene of my life. Uuuh! Yeah, but tell me you don’t feel so, at least sometimes in your life. Don’t throw a stone! Sure, behind that big self confidence is something else. Usually more or less one of two things to find: Plain stubborn ignorance, or a character the hates himself more then ever someone else could. Ignorant people wouldn’t self reflect. For sure not in a public blog. The other kind would rather kill somebody before he found out the truth about him, or whip himself. I am more likely the last kind. At least I carry the hope that finally someone would step out of the stupid selfish mass of minor actors and found out about me, by herself. Now that I wrote that down, I am not sure, if this could happen any longer. Why I call the people who don’t like me selfish? Because the have the same problem, than the most people in the “Peepshow” comic. The think THEY are the center and hero of the universe, and therefore the comic, blog, whatever is about them. But it isn’t. In the very moment of reading this piece of work from someone else, this person is the center of the world. This is the reason for an writer to write books, an journalist to publish articles, an singer to sing songs, and moderator to run a show. When people consume, they lean back from their own live and gave room for the life of someone else. In the very moment you read this lines, I am truly the center of YOUR universe. If no one reads it, I am doing just a diary in the net and all my self confidence is truly wrong. For sure we all are just a piece of dust in infinity. To think that we ore the things around us, like houses, cars, money, friends, family, religion, politic, world environment, philosophy or anything else could be of any worth for the universe that carries us, is just extremely silly if you just think about it for a minute. Also for sure, we never can feel this with our heart. Therefore we trick people, kill people, lie on people and do the worst we can to keep up with that lie for ourselves. Any strong believe in something means also a strong disbelieve in something. Any strong opinion about something, means always a strong argument against something. Any strong integration in something, means always to shut your community from outsiders. This all must lead to what they call bad in moral philosophy. Before I get to far off topic (already, huh?), just let me say, that I am not a nihilist. I am not neutral at all. I am not a entity from a other sphere – I am just a human, who try to entangle from time to time his mind from foolish random ways of thinking, the world force me to.
To get some impressions right that you might got wrong, because I just forget to tell them, didn’t got them in the first place or for other reasons I couldn’t imagine – because this is your head and not my brain:
At first – I love Africa! Got it? Why you might ask? Because I am the character for it. You might be a other character and don’t like the things you read there. Anyway, this is not a PR blog for the tourist or economic department of the Kenyan government. I write down what I see and feel. I like a lot about Kenyan attitude, and think a plain German and other people could learn a lot from that. At the same time I am sure, that this attitude is not the best one – and this is not a judgement, it is just true for all things. Get the best out of it and leave the rest. Kenyan people seem to me extremely relaxed, from a Germans point of view. Sometimes they stand in the middle of the road, not even really care if there is car moving behind them. It might be the heat, it might be trust in drivers behavior, or plain not caring to much about the own life, but in Germany this behavior would be just a good way of suicide. Therefore I love this attitude. I saw only a few stressed drivers on the street, even if the traffic there is from my point of view often just madness. I still can imagine some worth traffic, but I am just glad, that I have no drivers license for this country. Just by the way, I told people the same thing, when I went from the countryside to Hamburg. I guess you get used to it. Respect to Kenyan drivers. In all that Chaos on the street I saw a lot of nearly accidents, that I just gave up to mention them. Nothing happened, so the system works – somehow. In Germany the would had a hundred killed people on the street each day, if the would drive like in Kenya, just because of a different habit and attitude. The only crashed car I saw, was hit by a drunk driver missing his spot and going full speed into a parked car. That could happen everywhere… Maybe not in Saudi Arabia 🙂
I mentioned that I felt like in a jail, when I noticed all the keys, locks, blocking bars, doors, gates, spiked wires, electric fences, walls, guards, watchmen, guns, riffles, machine pistols, security lights, body guards, etc. This is for sure and fact much more true than all over Europe, and maybe the most countries all over the world. Maybe not, I will see a few more places. To me it is just extreme. I mentioned not in my blog, that I get very quickly used to it. I don’t feel like in a jail any more, but more like in a save harbor, after seeing around, that there are reasons for all that security. I mentioned at least this. Also I mentioned often, I didn’t even thought of a danger, when my hosts told me that there is more likely one. I didn’t experienced that dangers, but this might be true, because I was then a bit more careful. To say, there is everything fine and you just have to be more careful then in Lüneburg, is just plain nonsense. But it is also true, that fear is always the key to the end of your life. Just get used to the habits of security here, and everything will be fine. Maybe more fine, then caring about nothing and get robbed in Hamburg. As my former trainer in the army taught me: If you have a lock in front of your cabin, nobody steal something from you. If you have no lock in front of your cabin, you earn punishment for giving people the opportunity. At least you have to take care about how security affects your life and if the level of security is still necessary, but this is a different story. The people here, are fine with it, so it shall be then like it is.
I mentioned the house, how big it is and that it still have not all the furniture in it, and at least, that I have no Idea what they use it for. For sure there is a need for all that rooms including a lot of bathrooms, a farmers soon from the backyards of Germany would never have use for, while they have a big family and guests to visit them often, while I haven’t both of them. At least, the house is not crowded with posh stuff and the habit of the people are not posh at all. In a lot of ways I would say it is the other way round. Maybe you don’t got it, but these all are MY impressions about it. It is not pure gold of wisdom and knowledge.
I will mention two absolutely identical examples about African attitude: The broken kitchen light that flickers, and the car, in which I was carried around most of the times, which came out of a service in a garage. Nobody noticed the light, because it will get fixed some day and in the meanwhile you can easily get along with. So I decided to do like they do and say nothing. The German in me would moron about it all day long until it is fixed. This is just a bad attitude of Germans, and everybody who understands at least a bit of living a mental healthy life, would got it, that this is the way to handle such problems. Copy that habit! I try to. The impression in this episode, was not about a hole country, that is not able to fix a flickering light. Same goes for the car today. It came out of service with more problems than before. First reaction was: we bring it back until it is fixed. What would you do? I, as a German would run to the garage, shout around, blame them for bad service and sue them if they don’t give me my money back. Maybe I would live a few years longer, if I would have that, what I call the African attitude. Got it? Copy that!
A other thing, that was mentioned, was the funny picture with the alcohol bottle next to the plant in the ground. Was anybody of you really thinking they water the plants with liquor? At least one person. Therefore: No they don’t give alcohol, drugs or other fun stuff to plants. Plants have a very nice and clean life in this country. To make them stay alive in the dry season, they use just random bottles to make sure the roots are watered.
Another truth I can tell after this few days with this scratch on the surface of a culture is, that there are many places in Kenya or at least in Nairobi, that have a better live style, then any other place I have seen in Germany. At the same time there are places in Nairobi, that have a so bad lifestyle, that I even couldn’t it imagine, before I saw it in the biggest slum of hole Africa. The reason why this is so may lay in the existence of both places. It’s just my opinion, that there is a specific number of material things in the world to share. If someone, for what ever reason use more of them, someone else have to use less. If someone use extremely much more of them, someone else HAS TO use less. It doesn’t depend only on the will of someone to work hard and get more out of it. Often it is not earned. Especially then, if you save more food, that you can eat. That is my opinion and my believe. Take it or leave it. In the terms of my blog I just have to mention if I see some wealth on one side, and some poor on the other side. I just mention it, because I have no clue at all, why this specific person has more than another person. So therefore I blame no one. Got it? Brilliant.
Just to mention it again: I was warmly welcomed all over the place, that I really got sometimes water in my eyes – no, I don’t cry before it hurts. I also never felt a kind of racism against me. Actually, I don’t have the impression of apartheid or racism at all. For sure you don’t see a white men packing up the things you bought in a market, but you can see a black guy in a Country Club with a 18 hole drive range.
Anything else? Maybe I don’t think about it, but no, life is not worse here than in Germany for a student like me. It has some better sides here, and it has some not so good sides here. Same goes for living in Germany.
To end this information piece of todays blog, I will give you a bit of travelers advise. If you are so silly like me to, and have your informations not on a simple list printed out or at least on your laptop, then you get totally lost. Because I am so used to daily internet, I never put my informations in one proper place. I just collect them from the places in the net, where I store them. So just write down all your contacts you need for your travel on a simple list like in numbers or exel. Names, addresses (I don’t even know exactly were I am staying), telephone numbers (even if you don’t carry a phone around), eMail (even if you have no laptop with you). Write a proper list from where to where you go, when you are leaving, when you arrive, how you get there. Print out flight plans and tickets, even if they tell you the print out is not necessary. Copy your most important papers like passport and tickets and store them on a different save place, most likely close to your body. There are niche belly pockets or leg pockets for under your cloth. They are also useful to carry money around. But this is just for traveling. If your in the country, I recommend to have just the amount of money with you, that you intend to use on that day. At the same time I would recommend, to carry only copies of your papers or like me a international student card with you. Then it can’t get stolen or lost. Rest stays with your luggage in your place. If you like to go to an adventure tour into the slums or in very busy areas, you shouldn’t use a camera. At least I cary mine on my belt under a jacket or t-shirt and when I shoot a video or picture, there are friends around me, or at least, I have a look around the place fist. You can get nice pictures out of a car or bus, so consider this. At least don’t do like I did, and forgot a cable to connect your new Mac to beamer. I guess I have to by a USB in Teheran before my next presentation.
With that, I will move on to the regular entry of this day… long one today, uh?
This morning we get up early, but we still hit the end of the line, way out Nariobi city. We made a good decision. My hosts mother turned around the car and went a bit back to the Safari Park I was two days before. They have a nice Safari style restaurant there and we had a nice breakfast with little monkeys jumping around us. My host mother just called in her company, that she will arrive later, and everything was fine. I tasted this morning with my fried egg – they do it here like an omelet, but I had that problem in England as well – a typical Kenyan fried bread. Yummy.
When we was finished, the traffic jam was vanished. Thats the way to handle heavy traffic!
In the city got my $50 for the next trip. My host father took care for that. A employe of the bank was informed to help me with the formalities even for such a small amount of money. Very kind of my host father and the bank, which was Barkleyes (I am not sure about the spelling, but you will see it you are there.). Also I sent my first Postcards back to Germany. I was so annoyed of me, that I forgot to copy the new address of my best friend, and had not chance to find out in the internet. Pal, you will get your card later… still two month to go!
We had a Matatu ride back to the company of her mother to pick up the car fresh from the garage. I noticed, that I start to see where I am in Nairobi, recognize streets and Matatu lines. So I guess, if I would stay here for a week or two longer, I could get easily around by my own for all major matters.
We drove to the University of my lovely host to have my presentation there for the AIESEC Members. The Catholic University there is really nice and for my short look around, as good as a German university. The campus at least is more pleasant, then in Hamburg. The AIESEC office is just tiny, but in Sheffield they had even non, when I was there. But this is just this little office, LC Nairobi has a fine big office, at least the campus is there not so pleasant. I met a lot of nice AIESECer. Also a guy, who was working on our conference in Germany this November. It was just to short to talk with all of them. I would have loved to stay longer with them. We went straight to the meeting room. I had an very kind audience of about 25 people in the beginning. After the first presentation it grew up to about 35 people. I say kind, because I missed a cable, like I mentioned. Therefore they stood tuned with all the trouble in the beginning to get it started. But it seemed they enjoyed the presentation, so I won’t change to much on it in the next country.
Very supportive, someone helped me out in between with his laptop and we ran two other presentations from my Local Committee in Hamburg on Windows. Sad, that Microsoft refuse to run keynote presentations on their power point. It works the other way round. I was not so good prepared for that presentations, but the audience got something out of it. Because I never thought, they will give me so much time, to run all the presentations, a lot of informations in the presentations came up double and triple the time. Anyway, they was very supportive, asked questions afterwards. Payed good attention and seemed to me keen about getting projects with our Local Committee. Very well then. Get something started. I guess there will be a few eMails cross the equator the next days.
Afterwards we had a quick meal in the canteen, which is really a nice one. The food, I went for a backed fish with Ugali, was like all canteens all over the world: O.k.
We took to friends from Wairimu along to our next trips this day. Next stop was the home town of my lovely host, Rongai.
Rongai is in terms of Germany not a town at all. Wairimu tend to call it a village, because of the lack of infrastructure. I would call it a big city with about 100,000 inhabitants. It’s just a bit further away from Nairobi Center then the suburbs my hosts live in. My first impression is, that there a construction sites all over the place.They build mainly houses, but also improve the roads. They really need it. The house was a bit deeper in a labyrinth of narrow side streets. Most of them so small that only a car of our Mercedes size could fit through – not even a pedestrian beside. We reached the house behind a big gate and had a short look inside. The house is now rented out to parts of the family of Wairimu. So we was warmly welcomed. It was not as hugh as the new one in the suburbs of Nairobi, but also far from being a small house. The garden behind was at the moment a mess, because the build a bigger fence around the backyard and want to do a different garden. Same goes by the way for the new house. The will build behind the garden a pool area at the moment, but there is not much to see now.
After this short trip to the house, we went down to the main road and had a short look to the church. I get the impression, that most churches in Kenya are in a round shape with a roof in the shape of a round hut and just a cross on top.
We left the city then to get a bit outside to a house in the wilderness. Wairimus knows the people who owns this, and they used it often for AIESEC events. It was an interesting trip through the suburbs of Rongai. At first we say a big roadwork. There was not much to hold back the traffic and it was plain driving in the construction site. A land rover would have been find. We drove like all other people through the sand of the new road, which was not finished yet. The bigger houses outside and uphill the “village” Rongai was maybe a bit smaller then in the Nairobi suburbs, but also the walls was smaller. Often it was just a fence. I was told, that the reason therefor is, that there is not much crime in Rongai. They need the fence most likely to keep away the animals. We went outside the village and the roads get a bit more wild. It was most likely just a stripe of more or less plain sand where they removed the biggest rocks. Not to easy to drive for a regular street car. We passed a the city limits by the biggest house I might have ever seen. Pure senseless luxury. Wairimu told me it is own by a rich Italian guy, who behave like maybe all new rich people behave – badly, with no manners and shame.
Close by is a national park and we passed by antelopes and baboons. At the boarder between Rongai city and the national park is this lovely house. It is great. Its on a cliff over a river bed, where even lions came down at the night to drink. At the moment there is not much water to see, because it is dry season. We had a bit of rain, so there was at least some water, but usually you just see plants and dry sand.
Further into the national park we went to see the Massai lodge. A very nice hotel for tourists. in the middle of the countryside. We had a look around the countryside there and this really cool hotel over a river. The main picture with this hugh outstanding big tree comes from there. It stands opposite of the hotel in a forest like the mother of all trees.
On our way back to Rongai, we passed the same construction site. At this time they had finished the road piece, that we could easily drive through. It is this will of the people to get things done, which I really like. In Germany it feels more often, that the people search for a reason not to do it, instead of move their ass. I guess we are a bit fat and to leisurely in comparison to this people. This is really something I like about this place.
Before we went home we dropped of the girls and went to the country club. Wairimus father moved up in the hierarchy of the country club, and so he got not even a better parking space, but also Wairimu is soon be able to get all the services of the club, like using the tennis court and the gym, the pool and the massage, the library, and what ever. The design of the houses at the club is to make them look like what a US-American would think of a old fashioned house would look like in Europe. Anyway it is just posh, with a niche green big 18 hole green and a very pleasant restaurant. I strolled a bit around the place, but it was not allowed to take pictures. I would say it looked like the best you can imagine from the impression of a Hollywood film. Pretty posh here. I also was told, that this – for sure – a important place to make business. That is bay the way the reason for Wairimus father to be a member. The membership for this club is buy the way something around 80,000 to 100,000 Dollar a year. Like buying a posh car each year. I have to say, this place was niche, but it barely tipped an emotion in me. I guess, I really don’t care about material or posh things.
I just had look around the country side and therefore not so much detailed explanations. Anyway, you know if you read the first part of this episode, that there were others things I was thinking about when I wrote this down. So I leave you with that and call it a day.
Read you later!