After a week and a half here, back from a much needed rest in Kenya, I have to say that the memories are as fresh and crisp as the air that greeted me as I got off the airplane. Not only was I thankful that my plane did not land in the Hudson River, but I am also thrilled that there was much more joy in my walk, having sat and broken bread with my dearest family and friends back home. So much has changed in Kenya in the last 18 months, and this post is a little about things that you should know about the country I call home.
1. Health – My heart was literally drawn and quartered by the state of our health. Like many countries with just a little biit of a middle class, we have neglected to care for ourselves, and discarded our traditional foods for the lure of the western diet, of very processed foods. It was a marked contrast for those of us who were so stunned by the presence and abundance of fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grains and tubers at such affordable prices. (Caveat: Here a single avocado at my grocery store costs $1) Many of those who have rejected traditional foods are faring badly, with everyone talking about the sugar disease (diabetes), exchanging the latest personal remedies for gout and taking in as much meat and alcohol as possible. Yes, there was a making-up for the lost holiday of 2007, but there was a bit too much of a cavalier conversation about food and eating right.
2. Mobile Talk Time Rates
Talk is cheaper than it has ever been. I am a young one, the furthest I can remember about prices of mobile calls was when they were KSH 45 a minute. Now, I was talking for Ksh 3 a minute and on the days when it was very pricey Ksh 8. All I can say is -tuendelee kuongea(lets keep talking)
3. Returning to Kenya after a long time – Peel your eyes.
There are no jobs waiting for you. You have to look for the abundant opportunities to be an entrepreneur and go for it. I mentioned this to some people who are interested in going to Kenya and there was a definite raising of eyebrows. If you can take an idea and creatively seek funding(legal means only please) you can return to Kenya. There was such explosion with many of the people who were not employed finding niche opportunities to apply their talents. Kenya is also the main source of labor for many of the African nations. Remember the part about having a substantial educated section. A small sample of where people are working Congo, Nigeria, Uganda, Malawi, Botswana. You name it, Kenyans are there.
4. Embracing African-ness
Here I am referring primarily to the clothing and artscene. No other time have I found such a thriving African product market. And there were young people using their talents to create artwork, there are several superb examples of Kenyan programming to replace the re-hashed and booooring sitcoms that flood every screen here. Shout out to Tahidi High especially, for my friend, you have represented the neighbor hood well. I digress. I wanted to carry back pictures of the clothing and the images, and the feeling in the fibres.