Kenya is closer than you think

The pleasure of the experience starts at the entry procedures into the country.  You do not need to get a visa from Nigeria prior to flying into Nairobi.  You can get a visa at the airport, so long as you have either an invitation letter or a hotel booking.  I had the first, so all I had to do was fill two forms, pay twenty five dollars and I was in: Karimu (welcome) to Kenya!

After two weeks in Limuru and spending more than 10 hours yesterday driving to remote areas as far as Kitui, I am increasingly convinced that we are not much different than the Kenyans, although yesterday I had to ask a Kenyan to explain one curiosity to me.  In Nigeria, our women do wonders with heavy loads on their heads, in a balancing act that never ceases to amaze foreigners.  Heavy loads are better carried on the head, most Nigerians will admit.  Why then do Kenya women log loads on their backs?  They get a sack open at one end, with a single rope joining together two ends of the sack mouth.  The fill this sack within whatever commondity they wish to transport, throw in on their back and then either hold the rope with both hands behind their back or hang it on their head.  All through the streets, particicularly in remote areas this is a common site.  The Kenyan I asked explained that it is more comfortable than carrying it on the head because the weight of the load is better distributed by supporting it on the back.  Really?   And don’t they get back problems?  No, he replied, adding though that some tribes in the western part of Kenya carry their loads on their heads – like we do in Nigeria.

Aside from this minor digression, the only major difference I see between them and us in the weather, which is cool and even cold – little wonder Europeans like it hear.  By the way, Kenyans are making quite a big deal about Britian’s Prince Phillip proposing to his future wife here in Kenya.  The first one week after my arrival was pretty cold and I had to wear warm clothing all day.  The sun that we take for granted in Nigeria, and even despise, was a long-sought-after friend here.  So much was I seeking out the sun anywhere that someone commented, “worshippers of the sun, unite!”.  

Their police is corrupt – to a legendary degree too.  To hear Kenyas complain about the police and their antics at road blocks, was almost to hear a Nigerian.  Sounds all too familiar.  I am certain that if you could get into a shouting match with a Kenya should you decide to insist that the Nigerian policeman is more corrupt.  The reasons they make up to collect bribes on the road are the same as we use in Nigeria.  We are “brodas” there!  Vehicle particulars out of date, car license, smoke emission, name it.

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