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.

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