I wouldn’t attend burials here if they were somber affairs. Burials have turned into a way for me to see a whole lot of the Kenyan countryside. Often when people pass away in Nairobi, the tradition is to bury them where their family originates. Usually in a beautiful valley on the lush knolls that spread across the country. The one I attended a few days ago was probably the most beautiful celebration of life I have ever been a part of. It was on the flat plains of Juja, attended by hundreds of family and friends who lost the 23 year old girl, sister of my good friend Steven. The crowd of hundreds around the grave sang beautiful gospel songs in their mother tongue. At one point I even found myself with a shovel filling the grave back up sharing turns with all the other men sweating under the hot sun. If I ever die, I hope people would celebrate that way.
Basically I’ll take whatever opportunities I can get to have a brake from the daily grind of dust and traffic jams in Nairobi. It’s such a nice way to really get to know what normal Kenyan life is like, because life in Nairobi is not anything remotely close to “Normal”. But I won’t even get started with how blown away I am by the peace and beauty that exists in rural Africa.
I got a call from Kaka on Saturday night who was in Nakuru town (a few hours north-west of Nairobi) as an exhibitor for World Habitat Day.
“Oh man you should just come here.”
It didn’t take much to convince me and I was on a bus the next morning. The night I was there, Kaka and I decided to see what Nakuru was about. We walked around with some old friends and found a smoky bar with one red light bulb (the main ingredient for a good dance party). We danced a hot little while getting to know the locals who were happy to have a white boy taking libations with them. Nakuru at night is a hot one.
I woke up with a nice little headache to a girl singing gospel songs at the top of her lungs followed by a banging on my door with her saying “Are you still here?” I realized everyone had already gone to the exhibition.
World Habitat day was like any Kenyan convention attended by mayors and MPs. The “VIPs” and MPs stay in a tent and don’t dare ever walk out under the sun alone to mingle with the mere citizens. They are quickly ushered in with their massive SUV’s and are just as quickly ushered out only after a symbolic walk around with their associates who ask ignorant questions to the groups who are told to stand upright while their presences are “graced”. MPs are like ghosts here. If you see one, it’s a supernatural experience. Meanwhile, the civil society groups on exhibit hold pissing matches to who has the most advanced and successful projects. It’s about as much fun as your second cousins graduation ceremony. The best image I witnessed was a big fat guy (and by the way he was white) smoking a long cigaro while beside him were a couple street kids begging the coordinators for ice cream. It was cartoonish.
One of my favourite parts of the ceremony (apart from the woman who walked around fraudulently billing each table for decorations subsequently disappearing, leaving a very confused and angry decorator) was when I was sitting on the grass and a man came up to me on a wheelchair. We talked for a couple minutes and then he very casually asked me if I could get him an artificial limb.
Either way it was nice to get out of Nairobi. And the whole trip cost me 20 dollars, because that’s how I roll.
Marching band music is so good for headaches in the am.
Kaka and friends at the exhibition table.
This thing was really interesting. You could pour in dirty water into the pot and it filtered the water then dripping into the blue bucket.
World Habitat Day 2010
I know this isn't a very good picture, but I just wanted to show what it looks like as the MP's and "VIPs" stay in the shade completely segregated as normal people walk around under the sun.