Thursday, July 29, 2010


WARNING: the following is definitely more of a book than a simple blog entry. Please refrain from embarking on it if you are not well endowed with time and probably a light snack.

Oh my goodness finally! I’ve been trying to write this blog for so long and I keep getting thwarted. The internet in Uganda is very patchy and I couldn’t find a good connection the whole time we were there. I was planning to write as soon as we arrived, cause we made a split second decision to go and I knew many people wouldn’t know where we had gotten to. Then every time I tried to write or upload pictures, the internet would go out or the power would shut off before I could finish. It was very frustrating and a couple of times I spent quite a bit of money and got almost nothing done.
Now I’ve made it to Tanzania, so things are a little better. But so much has happened that I’m a little daunted by the idea of recounting it all. But I really want to, as much for myself as for all those who are following my blog. I don’t keep a journal, so I’m planning to print all these notes out one day and keep them as a memorandum.
Like I said, Bobo and I decided kind of last minute that we would go for a trip. We had been doing a lot of work for Nuru and Bobo was getting annoyed that I started every morning with “What are we doing for Nuru today?” For myself, I had been getting frustrated with the way things always seemed to take longer than I wanted. I only have so much time and when things didn’t get done, I started to feel frustrated. With the generally slow pace of life in Mombasa (they call it “African Time”, but I think it applies to pretty much every tropical region in the world), this was pretty much inevitable. I also started to think about some of the other things I had been planning for this summer. I had been tentatively hoping to visit Uganda and I found out finally that my professor would be in Dar es Salaam on the 18th of July to work on some research. Bobo was the one who suggested we go for a trip, and I was hesitant at first cause there is just so much that I wanted to do for Nuru, and I knew that it wouldn’t happen if we were not there. But on the other hand, I came here to have a holiday too. What’s the fun of working all year so I can come to Africa and work some more and then go back to school? So, the night before our friend Ali was planning to drive to Kampala, we made the decision to hitch a ride with him. We left our chairman in charge and packed up our things, leaving at five in the morning on Saturday the third. We planned to make a round trip through Uganda and into Tanzania via the western side of Lake Victoria. That way we could visit my friends that I worked with in Uganda in 2008 and reach Dar in time to spend some time with my professor. Then we could be back in Mombasa by August to work on a few last things before my departure on the twelfth. So far, things have gone according to plan. I’ve felt pressed for money and time, though, and I still feel acutely that I’m not able to do everything I would like. It’s funny when you’re travelling, cause every time you stay somewhere it feels like so long. If you stay for a weekend in one place, it feels like a lifetime, and the people you meet feel like lifelong friends. But time also seems to go by way to quickly. I can’t believe there’s only like a week left of July!! I was talking with my professor today about how I would like to get a job here so that I could stay here for longer, like maybe a year. He said I should be careful cause once I have job I won’t necessarily have time to do all the things I want. I guess the trick is to get a job I care about and not one that is just a means to an end. He suggested I become a professor and do research over here, the way he does. That way I can spend my time learning about the culture here and immersing myself in it, and I’ll get paid for it too. I guess that’s the idea that drew me here to learn about what he does in TZ. I’ll let you all know how I feel about that life choice after a little more time in Dar.
But I’m definitely rambling. These are just some things that have been on my mind today. But I wanted to tell you guys about some of the great things that we did in Uganda. We had a lot of fun there. So let me get on that.
The trip with Ali was interesting. The highway to Kampala only has two lanes – one for each direction – and there are tons of slow moving trucks carrying petroleum, logs, multiple containers from the port, etc. Most of the cars weave in and out of the trucks and the oncoming traffic. Ali has a lot of experience, but its still quite a hair raising trip. We drove through the night, from five o’clock am on Saturday to 8 am on Sunday when we arrived at the border. Ali left the window open the whole time so he would stay awake, and I froze in the back seat. But I didn’t want to ask him to close it cause Ali staying awake on that highway was more important than me sleeping. When we got to the border, Bobo and I got a room at a guest house so we could have a nap while Ali dealt with the customs officials. I’m not sure if Ali had a nap too or if things just took forever, but we didn’t get across the border until about 3pm. I mean, Bobo and I were across the border by then, but we had to wait and drink Nile Specials for quite a while while we waited. Laurie was waiting to meet us in Kampala, and she was a bit annoyed that we didn’t get there until like six. We called her when we got to our meeting place and she was about ten minutes away. Bobo said “if she knew how much we had waited today, she wouldn’t make us wait” and I said “we were like seven hours late to meet her so I think she’s more than entitled to ten minute of lateness”.
We stayed that night in Laurie’s friend Tom’s family’s village house outside Kampala. It was a beautiful big house with a manicured garden, three bedrooms, a huge kitchen and a generator. There was even a whole separate house for the caretaker and his family. Tom and his sister Maria were cool and we had a great time all hanging out together, except I think they thought Laurie and I were a bit crazy when we went running and cartwheeling all over the lawn and climbing the trees in the yard. Maybe we are a bit crazy.
The next day we went to Nkozi, a village two hours south of Kampala, which is home to the Uganda Martyrs University and the Edirisa Gardens. Edirisa is the organization that I worked for for three months in 2008, and for which Laurie continues to work. I had never been to the Edirisa Gardens before so I got to see it for the first time. They run a small bar and kitchen there, and they have a studio where they record interviews, radio shows and music and put it all together on high-tech computers. Laurie has a desk there where she does most of her research and article-writing for Studio Edirisa. They’re on facebook if you want to check them out. Laurie has a small one-room apartment there with an extra single bed that Bobo and I shared for a few days. She also has a small stove and she cooked for us a lot. Thanks again for that, Laurie!
The weekend after arriving in Nkozi, we planned a trip to the Ssese Islands in Lake Victoria. We hitched a ride on the back of a pickup truck down to Bucedde (Buccade? Bucacedde?) Anyway, we took a ferry from there to Kalangala Island (I remember that name cause Bobo had a great time saying Kalangala over and over, and then when we triend to get him to say Kabalagala, he kept saying Kablagala. That probably doesn’t make sense, but just trust me, it was funny). Bobo was terrified of the boat ride over cause we swayed a little, and there were no qualified lifeguards on board. Then we missed the last Matatu so we had to take a crazy hour long ride across the island on the back of motorbikes on the dirt road in the dark. Poor Laurie bruised up her butt sitting behind me cause she hit the bar at th back of the sea every time we went over a bump.
We stayed at this campground called Hornbill which had a great little beach and a bunch of little wooden huts that you could rent for the night. The place was run by these crazy Germans who smoked and drank a lot. The man especially. He showed us some old newspapers detailing his arrest and imprisonment on charges of drug possession, and his wife told us he’d been in and out of jail in South Africa as well for the 20 years that they lived there. Apparently she has a jail bag which she keeps ready for him with all the things he’ll need with him if he gets arrested. He kept telling Bobo and I “No sex on the bar” and suggested that we were in some kind of exploitative sugar-mama and beach boy sort of relationship. He also waxed eloquent about Laurie’s chest. They were very friendly people, but quite eccentric. Maybe that’s what happens if you live on a tiny island in the middle of Africa for too long.
We also went swimming in the lake there, which was gorgeous. It’s like swimming in a clear, salt-free ocean. Even Bobo came in. I guess we should all get tested for whatever that parasite is that lives in Lake Victoria. Remind me to do that when I get home. Bobo and I played some soccer on the beach and I lost, so I had to buy him a Brazil jersey. He loves Brazil. When I got too tired and when to lie in the sun, Bobo started playing with some local kids and taught them a few skills.
On the second day, we were looking for some local food in the village and we followed this crowd down to the water where they had discovered the body of a boy who had gone missing two days before. The story was that the canoe the two of them had been bringing charcoal in from the mainland had capsized. One boy made it back and the other one never showed up. Until two days later, anyway. We didn’t go close enough to see him in the water, but many people did. People who knew him I guess, or maybe just people with morbid curiosity. Like people who stand around watching a house burn down. They brought him wrapped up on the ferry the next morning. The same one we took.
After the Ssese Islands, we packed up and went down to Kabale where I used to stay. It was really awesome to see all my friends there again. I took Bobo out to Lake Bunyonyi where we swam and sun bathed and stayed in my old mud hut. We canoed around in a dugout canoe, and I showed Bobo how to paddle it. He had a great time, and I think some of his fear of water went away. Its hard to be scared at Lake Bunyonyi cause it’s so beautiful there. In fact I forgot how much I liked it there, and I really wish I had had more time. I would really like to go back and stay for longer another time.
On our last night in Kabale, we all went out to the old club, Match and Mix, where we used to go in 2008, and to a new club in town called Pine. Laurie and Comfort had even come down from Nkozi and we all danced together like we used to. It was really fun.
The next morning, Bobo and I left early for Tanzania. The journey was a bit crazy. Travelling itself has been a bit stressful overall during the last month, for me because I hate getting overcharged and given the wrong information, which I often am as a white person, and for Bobo cause he’s not used to journeys being so unplanned. Getting into a town you don’t know and trying to figure out where to go from there and the best way to get where you want to be when you don’t know the language or the prices or anything is not something Bobo had ever done, and it was definitely straining. But we got to see and do a lot of awesome stuff because of it, so I’m not focusing on that. Plus Bobo got a chance to see what it’s like to be a foreigner. If he ever comes to visit me in Canada maybe he’ll be a little more prepared.
And troubles or no troubles, we made it to Dar es Salaam and met up with my professor Vinay Kamat, a Medical Anthropologist who does research on Malaria and other illnesses in the rural areas around Dar. That brings me to where I started. I certainly have some adventures in Dar to recount, but I think those will have to wait for another blog. This one is plenty long, as I am quite sure you’ll agree.
As always, thanks for reading and I hope you are all enjoying your summers.
Till next time

Thursday, June 24, 2010


About two weeks ago, Bobo's coach passed away in the hospital from Meningitis. Unfortunately we didn't get a chance to visit him. Bobo saw him a few days before, on the day he was admitted, but he didn't get a chance to say goodbye, so we went to Mazeras, a village about 45 minutes away, to attend his burial. The Christian custom here is to hold a Matanga, or funeral service, in town where everyone gathers and drinks tea and listens to music together while consoling the family of the deceased with their presence. I'm afraid to say there have been many Matanga in Tudor lately. Every night we see a new one somewhere. The family usually collects money during the Matanga, which they use to transport the deceased to their ancestral homeland where they are buried in the village cemetery. The burial is called Mazishi. I have attended several Matangas, but this was my first burial. I did attend one in Uganda in 2008, but I was not as involved and I had never met the girl who had passed away on that occasion. This was a different experience altogether, cause I knew Coach Mover (not as well as Bobo, of course, but I knew him) and because I was closer and more involved than i have ever been.
There were a huge number of people there. Bobo says three thousand. I think it was more like three hundred. Mostly from Tudor. They filled up the tiny dirt streets of the village in a procession to the church. The women were dressed in Kangas of many bright colours and patterns. Coach's family all wore the same bright pink and green. The men were more subdued, mostly in jeans or dress pants and tshirts. they carried the casket. Prayers and speeches took place in a small methodist church built in 1893. There wasn't enough room for everyone so many of us stood outside. I went with Bobo and some of coach's former teammates to drink Mnazi (palm wine) and reminisce. Two hours later, The procession found us on its way to the cemetery. We joined them. I listened to the songs they were all singing together - beautiful songs in which I could distiguish the odd word: "Mungu" (god), "Kwa heri" (good bye), etc. It was quite powerful.
When we arrived in the cemetery, the men had laid coach's body next to a fresh grave. The casket was open and people were walking by to see him one last time. I got funneled into the line before I really understood what was going on. I've never seen a dead body before. It was like a doll. A figure like a real person with no life in them. He looked pained. his eyes were shut tight and his mouth was filled with something white. i asked Bobo later if he had gone by, but he said he could never do that, he wouldn't have been able to handle it. I'm sure I would feel the same if it was someone I loved, who had had so much influence in my life.
We all stood around while they lowered him into the ground with a couple of ropes. Then they lowered a sheet of wetal over top. There were two shovels and one hoe and all the young men from the Tudor United soccer team took turns shoveling the dirt into the grave. The priest kept starting songs and everyone would join in. I wished I could join in. I was trying to take a short video on my camera and I lifted it over the heads of two women in front of me. One of them started crying hard and leaned on to her friend for support. I brought my camera down, realizing suddenly that I was being inappropriate. Until this point I had been watching everything with a kind of anthropological interest, but now i realized how serious this was. This man, who had clearly affected the lives of so many people in Tudor, was gone, and in a small way, things would never be the same again. The songs and the crying filled my ears and I felt overwhelmed with sadness.
After they had shoveled all the dirt so there was a mound of earth, they pulled out all the roots and grass and flattened the top with the handles of the shovels. Coach's mother was supported to the mound with a great big wreath, which she placed in the middle. Groups of family members were called forward to place smaller wreaths and flowers. The boys from the team were each given a red rose, which they stuck into the dirt around the edges. Coach's mother kept staring at me, and I hugged Bobo, hoping to tell her that I was there to support him. He told me that to someone from the village, a person like me is like an angel.
As he was leaving. a boy who worked in the cemetery stopped and spoke to me loudly, interrupting the song. He pointed to the next plot and said "Tomorrow, this will be my grave. Everyday we bury someone else here. I want to die." And he walked away. i didn't know what to say, but I think it must be pretty hard on a young person to work somewhere like that.
We all trickled back to the field where we ate pilau and chatted. People were fairly upbeat. Bobo and his friends snuck off to drink some more Mnazi while I ate with my friend Elizabeth who runs a small retaurant in Tudor. We headed back to the highway as it started to rain.
The whole experience was fairly affecting to me, and I debriefed with Bobo on the Matatu back to Mombasa. We talked about depression, which I had to explain to Bobo. I told him it seemed to me that Africans have an aptitude for not letting inevitablities keep them from finding ways to be happy. I was surprised at how everyone could take the ceremony so seriously, and then go back to chatting and laughing so quickly. I can't, but then I'm starting to think I have almost no control over my emotions at all. But maybe its not about control. Maybe it's just that they don't live in the past the way we do. I can ask them to explain how they do it, but... what's that line in Out Of Africa?... "it's like a deaf person asking for an explanation of a symphony."

Tonight we are visiting the Matanga of one of our Nuru soccer players' mother who passed away about ten days ago. Sigh.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Miss Laurel Jane May Visits Mombasa

June 18
Long overdue. Sorry about that those of you who have been waiting for me to write a blog. I know it’s been like a month. I can’t believe it. And believe me there has been no shortage of things to write about. It’s just that there’s usually something I’m more excited about doing than writing a blog. Like going our with my friends or working on Nuru stuff. I’ve been busy, and I have also been trying to work out a good way to access the internet from home. I have one of those little modems that plugs into the USB port, but the internet is slow and patchy, so it’s been frustrating trying to get my blog and the Nuru site updated.
My final excusefor not writing for so long is that my friend Laurie from Uganda/Australia was visiting for the last ten days or so. She dropped by Mombasa on her way back from a tour of Europe and intended to stay for a couple of nights, I guess she enjoyed herself, cause we finally had to push her on to the bus back to Uganda more than a week later. Just kidding Laurie. We loved having you here. Even though we were all crammed into one room and Bobo kept moving the fan off of you in the middle of the night.
I have to say we went a little crazy with Laurie here. We went out dancing a lot and enjoyed more than our share of Miraa and local brandy. For those who are new to my blog, Miraa is a highly stimulating plant grown by the Meru tribe. It comes in bunches of extremely bitter twigs which you have to chew. It makes you talk a lot, verbal diarrhea I believe it’s called, and you end up saying things like “Your name’s Ralph? Where I come from, that means vomit.” Right Laurie?
We also spent a bunch of time on the beach, evidence of which is available in my facebook photos. We went to the South Coast on the last day before Laurie’s departure. The South Coast has a whole bunch of really beautiful beaches, and it’s where all the big resorts and the majority of the white people can be found. Not us though. We stay in a one-room flat with no running water and a shared bathroom. And we love it! Or I do anyway. Anyway, this beach at the South Coast was really nice and they had a little bar with palm frond roofs and live music. Of course it started to rain as soon as we got there. We still went swimming though, cause the water was warmer than the air. It was definitely cold when we got out though. Bobo laughed at me for being cold cause I’ve said before that Kenyans don’t know what cold is. I maintain that they don’t. Incidentally, one of the interesting things about Laurie was that even though we share a lot of culture (which I’ll admit was refreshing conversation-wise – I was starting to miss having someone to regale with Friends and Calvin and Hobbes references) she has never really been anywhere cold. Uganda is cold for her. Now, I fully admit that Uganda is not warm compared to Kenya or Tanzania or Sudan (rain forest, misty hills and all that), but I defy anyone from Canada or even most of the northern US to call Uganda cold. In any case, we dried off and spent the rest of the evening drinking beer, listening to a local band, dancing, strolling on the beach and later watching the Australia soccer game. It was thoroughly enjoyable and honestly one of the things I was hoping to do more of while I was here. I know I’m here for Nuru and hopefully to visit my professor in Tanzania, but who says I can’t have a bit of a holiday too?
Laurie is working as a journalist for a small East African online journal run by Edirisa in Uganda. I helped her edit a couple of pieces and it really made me think about some of the things I’ve been wanting to write about in my blog. Things like the reactions to the world cup here in Kenya, Mr Joe Biden and his wife Jane’s visit to Kenya about a week ago, the upcoming referendum, etc. these are all things that I have come to know quite a bit about, and I’ve talked to lots of people and I have opinions. So I’m going to try to bring a few more of those things into my blog in the near future. Now that I have my laptop up and running, I think I’ll be better able to do that. After all, a blog is supposed to be a place to talk about things that are on your mind, and not just a record of things that happen to you on your holiday. And every day I think of something I could write about in a blog. So I promise it won’t be another month before I write again! I hope some of you will be interested in reading what I have to say. I’ll do my best to make it interesting!
Till then, enjoy your summers!


Saturday, May 22, 2010

Soccer Tournament Kicks Back

Well it has been a very eventful first week in Mombasa. Last Sunday was especially whirlwind-esque. Bobo and I arrived in Mombasa at about 6am on the bus. I’d slept a little but Bobo had been chewing Miraa so he was wide awake. We went to Bobo’s new place which I had yet to see in person. You have to get to it down a flight of steep stairs, along a dirt road lined with kiosks that, on stepping stones across a small dirty river and through a maze of small paths among the buildings which I still haven’t quite figured out. The place is a single room about the size of my bedroom in which Bobo has managed to fit a bed, two couches, an armchair, a TV and VCR unit and our Nuru computer. He doesn’t have a stove or a wardrobe. The washroom is shared with the neighbouring room. Even though it gets a bit messy, I’ve kind of enjoyed living there. The other people in the building are friendly, and there’s a little baby that hangs around there named Jeremy that I like. There are a lot of pirated movies kicking around so I can quite comfortably sit on the couch with the fan on me and watch movies in the evenings. It’s also a short walk to Tudor so its easy to go visit people when we want. I say we because Bobo doesn’t like me to walk there on my own. Sometimes it bugs me, but considering how we met, it’s understandable.

Anyway, on Sunday we got in and tried to sleep for a couple hours, but we had a lot to do to get ready for the finals of the Kick Drugs Out of Tudor Soccer Tournament that afternoon. We had to get a goat for the prize, Get nets and chalk to mark the field, a tent and seats and water for the guests of honour… We had to make sure the guests of honour were coming. We even went to the media to see if they would send someone. They did, but I haven’t heard if we were in the paper yet. We also had to drop the uniform and boots off to the team. They looked so great. You’ll see all their pictures on facebook and on our website. We are planning to do profiles of the team as well.

The game was amazing. The teams were both excellent, in their teens and twenties and in excellent shape. They were evenly matched and the game was quite exciting. There were a ton of fans there, filling up the entire ground. The majority were from Tudor, but a bunch came up from Kaa Chonjo as well. After every goal, the children from Tudor would get up and run behind the team as they did a victory lap. After their second goal, the offense ran over and dove into the ground in unison right in front of where I was sitting. It was awesome. I didn’t see Bobo at all during the game cause he was so busy coaching, but I assured him afterwards that it was quite entertaining.

Unfortunately, we had a little problem at the end. About five minutes before the final whistle, the score was tied and everyone was tense. When Nuru scored, all the fans and the team went crazy. The Kaa Chonjo team and supporters were less than happy, and perhaps would up by the closeness of the game. They contested the goal strongly and when the ref refused to back down from his decision, they started a ruckus. Many of the women and children left, including two women from the International Centre for Reproductive Health who were there to do a workshop with the youth following the game. The game never finished officially, and the Kaa Chonjo team left, jeering and singing. Our team sat down in front of the tent with their supporters still crowding around them. They left a space out of respect for the other team. At this point some stones came flying out from behind the fence hitting the tent and several of the supporters. A stone fight ensued in which much of the fence and the bushes on the edge of Marycliff school property were destroyed. I am pleased to report that our team did not participate. While the fighting was going on, my friend Jacob, a very wise man whom I worked with during my internship in 2008, took the microphone and made a moving speech to the team about the importance of discipline and integrity and how our team clearly had more. He praised them for how they handled the situation and urged them to hold on to their sportsmanlike attitude as it would help them to avoid the many dangers that exist in their lives, such as drug abuse, HIV/AIDS, etc. I think it really affected them. When things had died down, I stood up and told the team that I was sorry about how things turned out, but that I was really proud of them and proud to support them. I told them to look at all the people who look up to them. Soccer is a big deal here and those youth who excelled at it are real role models, especially to younger kids. Even with the fighting, there were still about a hundred people there celebrating Nuru’s win. I told them that if they continue to make good decisions in their lives (and we would be happy to support them in any way they need), that all these people will be watching, and they will do the same. If they lead by example, they have a real chance at helping to make a better future for their community. I know that many of these slum kids (Kaa Chonjo is also a slum) grow up with violence, drugs, crime, etc, as a way of life. But I think our Nuru members, and now the heroes of the Nuru Tudor Youth FC prove that it doesn’t have to be that way.

That night, Bobo, Jacob and I went to see the Kaa Chonjo Team. I have to admit I was quite nervous to go down there. When we found them, though, they were quite calm and when we told them we were sorry about how things turned out and we hoped we could reconcile, it seemed that they were sorry too. Interestingly, even when emotions run high, and even if there is violence, the guys here very rarely hold a grudge against each other. I don’t really know why, but maybe it comes as a necessity of living in poverty. Of course, on the way out, Bobo got into a shouting match with one of the Kaa Chonjo supporters and I had to drag him away, so things are not perfect. We bought a second goat and invited the other team to join us at our celebration which is to take place tonight. Hopefully this will be a good peace offering. The last thing we want is to create enemies. We are also going to try to redo our workshop on drugs that did not work out last Sunday because of the extenuating circumstances. I hope things go well. If they do, maybe tomorrow we can work together to repair some of the damage to the school ground at Marycliff.
I’ll let you all know how it goes.


PS. Photos of the match are at, for those not currently on facebook.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


How cool is this? The woman sitting next to me is wearing a full burka; only her eyes and her hands are showing. And she's laughing as she types something on... guess what: Facebook! I'm being nosy, but I want to see what her profile picture is. Its just a symbol. I don't know what it means. Some of her friends have pictures of themselves, and others seem to be symbols as well. How interesting.
Its strange to see someone who we in the West might stereotypically think of as oppressed participating in social media like Facebook. It makes me smile and reminds me that I'm not as knowledgeable as I think I am.
Nairobi is really a neat city for cultural variety. There are a lot of people dressed formally for office work, and there are women wearing the latest Western fashions as well as fashionable African prints and styles. There are also burkas, turbans, tunics, robes and those big knitted hats that Jamaicans stuff their dreadlocks into. Among other things. Skins range from the darkest black to albino white. Bobo and I represent that range fairly well as we walk around the city together. Other Westerners often stare at us if we walk by hand in hand. On my side, I hope to get a little darker over the next couple of months. I had a guy tell me today that he could tell by the colour of my skin that I had not been in Africa long. He said the weather here will change me. I hope so, cause I'm missing summer in Canada.
With all these people in Nairobi, and little in the way of city planning, the place can get absolutely crazy. Everyone seems to be in a hurry all the time. The cars don't stop for you, people don't watch where their going...if you want to get on the matatu (minibus) you have to fight your way on, and then wait in a two hour traffic jam in the hot and humid stickiness to get wherever you're going. I guess that's why so many people walk. It's nice when you can sit down and just think about things and just observe what's going on around you. For example, noticing the burka-wearing Facebook-goer sitting at the next computer. But that doesn't seem to happen often. Especially when you have a whole bunch of people to visit, uniforms to get printed, soccer boots to buy, phones to unlock, and whatever other errands need doing. Even without those things, though, the city itself makes me feel like I'm in a rush. Like I'm out of time and money and 'm not done. Like Chirstmas shopping on Christmas Eve. I will definitely be happy to go back to Mombasa.
We're heading out tonight with all the things we'll need for the finals of our "Kick Drugs Out of Tudor" Soccer Tournament, which is taking place tomorrow. The newly created Nuru Tudor Youth FC will be playing Kaa Chonjo for the trophy. We have a ton of people coming - spectators, performers, healthcare professionals to talk to the youth about drugs, and possibly politicians. Last year, we had the Tudor Area Councilor and the Deputy Major. This year, however, Councilor Kiparaa seems to be somewhat out of favor. Bobo explained to me that he has been trying to use his connections to start his own business so that he won't finish his term and be broke. He is just one of the Tudor gang after all and had nothing before he became councilor. He also apparently has failed to fulfill some of his campaign promises, but that can be said of every politician as far as I know. In any case, our Chairman suggested that we not invite him if we want to stay in public favour. I don't think Chairman and Kiparaa get along that well, though, so I'll have to wait and see what the truth of the matter is. As an aside, people have been telling Bobo to run. I think he should, but I know its a lot of responsibility and he doesn't think he's up to it at this point. I think that if Kiparaa can do it, Bobo can. But I think he's worried that people will hate him too if he doesn't do a good job. But he's not corrupt and he's not jaded, and he certainly cares about his people. Anyway, we'll see about that.
In any case, if Kiparaa doesn't come, then the mayor (or deputy mayor) won't be there either. In which case they want me to be the guest of honour. Like I'm a good substitute for any of those people. And I certainly can't public speak like Kiparaa, or any other politician. I'm flattered though. I'll just have to make sure I have something good to say. I guess I have the bus ride tonight to think about it. I'll let you all know how it goes. Mombasa, here I come!


The woman's husband just came to get her, accompanied by a young woman wearing a blue shawl over her head and a blue scarf accross her white dress reading "Somalia" as if she had just won the Miss Somalia pageant. The husband tried to log on as well, but his computer didn't work, so he paid for his wife's time and the three of them left, disappearing into the crowd that is Nairobi. I wonder who they were.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Trip Three Officially Underway

Ten months later and here I am again! I'm sitting in the same internet cafe where I wrote first blog of the trip last year. And also where I copied all my pictures onto CD in 2008. It's still the same! A lot is the same in fact, like the food, and some things are subtly different, like the slang words my friends use. Some things I forgot as well, like how heavy the air feels and how tiring it an be to walk around Nairobi. I've been walking around all day, dodging traffic and weaving through the masses of people. Where are all those people going?
The C on this computer is really sticky, so if there are any Cs missing, bear with me. :)
My flight was good. Long though. I always enjoy flying cause I know I'm on my way somewhere new and exiting. Traveling has always been a good experience for me. I got a chance to see some of my family in Holland which was really nice. My Omie and Opa are proud of my exploits in Africa. I had some coffee and a chat with them about how things are with the family in Canada. My aunt Ellen was having a joint birthday party with her husband, so I got a chance to spend some time with them and some of Ellen's old friends that I knew. Unfortunately, I don't speak Dutch, so I couldn't get the full effect of the conversations. I'll learn it one day... I went to bed that night and slept until four thirty the next afternoon. Like 16 hours. But I guess I was tired from exams and all the craziness of packing and getting everything I needed for the trip (thanks again to my mom for helping me get everything in such a short time). Also, there's the jet lag...
I arrived in Nairobi on Monday evening and Bobo and friends came to pick me up. They were late because of the crazy Nairobi traffic, but I had a nice chat with the guy at the information desk before they got there. I had to avoid a lot of looks and refuse offers of taxis and places to stay while I was waiting, which was a good reintroduction to Kenya, and Mzungu-hood more importantly. When they got there we had to get some drinks at a local bar cause the guys were not ready to drive back into town through the crazy traffic. The local beers are still the same. ;)
Bobo and I are now staying at Richie and Michelle's place. Richie is a friend of Bobo's, and Michelle is his girlfriend. She's been showing me around and hanging out with me a it. she's a student here, so she speaks perfect English and we have a lot to talk about. I like her. Tonight, she's taking me dancing. When I'm not helping Michelle cook or hanging out with her, Bobo and I have been running errands around Nairobi. We had to get some cell phones that I brought unlocked so that they are usable here. We also have been working on registering Nuru with the Registrar of Companies here in Nairobi, which will give us national recognition and make us eligible for funding from the Kenyan government. Finally, we are working on getting some uniforms for our soccer team. The semi-finals of the Kick Drugs out Tudor Soccer Tournament happened today, and the finals will be next week when Bobo and I return to Mombasa. It will be nice for our team not to have to wear rented or borrowed uniforms for the finals. There are a few pictures of the tournament at, and there are some posted on facebook as well, though I'm not sure exactly where they are. I'll get some more posted on the website soon. And my own pictures on facebook once I have some.
In any case, one we've finished our business in Nairobi, we'll go back to Mombasa. I imagine it will be this weekend or Monday at the latest. I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone there again. I'm also hoping to have some more adventures. Getting back into being in Africa has been an adjustment, but it's not really new or scary the way it was originally, and in a way, that makes it a little less exiting. I'm sure I can find something fun. I've got my professor who does researh on Malaria in Tanzania, and if things work out with that (he didn't get his grant this year unfortunately, so things are a little up in the air right now) I'm sure that would be an excellent adventure. And if things go well with Nuru, that is of course very rewarding as well. So I'm looking forward to a really good few months. I promise to keep you all updated. Now I gotta run cause it looks like rain!