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  • Tom Blower

A New Beginning


I’ve realized that writing down every experience in the way I’ve been doing isn’t really working. A detailed daily log of thoughts and events seems to work better for a journey, where every night is slept under a different roof, and events, landscapes, people, seem to be more varied. For a stationary posting, where things are much more sedentary, where interactions, routine and landscape unchanging, this type of writing doesn’t seem to be suitable. From now on, I am going to try and write about some of the more interesting things happening here. After all, I’m sure that both you and my future self would prefer not to hear about the everyday tedia of project micro-management.

The line in the sand has been drawn.

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“We Will Be Together”

One of the luckiest aspects of our placement in Ematiha was that we could get going on some of the obviously more problematic elements of the school very early on, which meant that we’d quickly got to know several of the tradespeople in Kakamega with whom we would be doing a lot of business. Considering the training I’d been given (and in light of some of our previously frustrating interactions with some people), I expected to be spending a great deal of time arguing with stubborn tradespeople hellbent on making me pay mzungu price for everything. Yet in Girish Patel, an Indian-born naturalized Kenyan citizen, I found a man whose friendliness, honesty and willingness to help really set him apart from the workers in the three other hardware shops on Cannon Awori Street in downtown Kakamega. After several visits we were not only recognized but actively welcomed by Girish and the other Indian owners of Mitra Enterprises, the most successful hardware store in town. Flora and I were pleased to find such a mutually warm and smooth business relationship, but we were rather taken aback when Girish invited us to come and see the Mitra Enterprises First XI cricket team play a rival team from Bungoma that Sunday. We accepted, and agreed to meet Girish at the venue, the Lions Primary School, about two kilometers from town.

Sunday came and, waking a the still uncomfortable time of 7:30AM, we left the house at 8:00 and wandered down the westward road out of Kakamega towards Kakamega National Rainforest and Kapsabet. The tarmac yielded to packed ochre earth and rocks, and the trees growing either side of the road (mainly eucalyptus, here a popular and inexpensive hardwood) towered tall and dense, covered in creepers. As I walked, I wondered: why had Girish asked us to come? Was it because we were valuable clients? Or had our skin something to do with it? Or, yet still, had I overthought it, and was it that Girish was inviting us because we were from England, the home of cricket, and was assuming that as such we would be massive fans? Whatever the reasons, there was no turning back as we saw several very clean cars with Hindi window stickers passing us, from which gesticulating arms beckoned us onward, and suddenly Girish, standing at the entrance to the school, dressed in uncharacteristically casual polo shirt and tracksuit bottoms, grinning from ear to ear. Greeting him with the same respectful handshake as for all Kenyans, we followed him through the gates.

Being funded by a large international charity (The Lions Club), the school was far bettr equipped than Ematiha in terms of its classrooms, but what really surprised me was just how English a sight greeted us around the back of the school buildings. A perfectly laid-out cricket pitch on a well-mown lawn, with hedges and shady trees to shelter the few observers scattered around watching the twenty or so men warming up, practicing their bowling and batting. Except all were Indian, save for the few black Kenyans who were carrying tables and chairs to and fro. It was only when we saw the number of chairs being set out that we realized just how big an event this was going to be.

In retrospect, I had expected a tiring morning, just watching a few guys playing a sport I wasn’t really interested in. I had forgotten that cricket, for these Indians at least, was almost more of a religion than Hinduism itself. Within half an hour of our arrival, over half of the roughly four-hundred-strong Indian community of Kakamega – almost all of whom emigrated from a twenty-kilometer radius in the state of Gujarat – had turned out to celebrate their motherland’s national sport. Commentary blasted intermittently in a hodgepodge of English, Swahili, Hindi and Gujarati between Bollywood songs over a massive Peavey PA system, and as Girish explained how the event was organized (as well as rebriefing me on the format of cricket matches), I began to get into the half-familiar, half-alien atmosphere.

Girish and Flora

As the first of the day’s two matches played out, I began to feel a genuine sense of tension and excitement for Mitra’s upcoming match, and genuinely welcomed by the handshakes of countless different men, most of whom owned hardware shops, plasticware shops, drapiers, bookshops, or other wholesale dealerships in town. This extent of entrepreneurship and canny business work was not only impressive, but to my mind also explained how these Indian Kenyans were so much richer than their black fellow citizens. However, my thoughts were cut short as the Mitra-Bungoma match began.

Bungoma were first to bat, taking 112 for 6, and as the runs racked up I was keen to see Mitra in action. The gap between innings, however, was lengthened as lunch was served for everyone present: crushed poppadom, fresh tomatoes and red onions, and a spicy potato and rice dish that reminded me of just how pathetic I am with Indian (or indeed any spicy) foods, washed down with milk flavoured with cardamom and coriander. Mouth burning but full, I sat down to watch as Mitra’s first batsman stepped up. Girish came on around sixth and batted admirably, scoring the team’s only 6, but despite the efforts of father-and-son team Navandra (Mitra’s owner) and his almost red-haired boy Neil, and of Arjun, a fierce bowler and player for Kenya’s U19s team, Mitra were caught out only six runs shy of victory in the final over. I was surprised by my own sense of disappointment, and strangely pleased at how invested I had become in a game I normally feel nothing but apathy for, all because of the friendliness of its players and spectators. It was saddening to leave as we waved goodbye to Girish and Navandra, promising to pick up our water tank for the school on Monday.

As we headed slowly homeward along the dirt road under the encroaching black clouds, a couple of words popped into my head, a Kenyan phrase which I had heard so many times: “We Will Be Together”. For all the sense of togetherness, of community, of belonging which was so clearly important to these people (after all, they take it in turns to pay KSH30,000 to feed over three hundred hungry mouths on a weekly basis), I still felt how divided and separate the event felt from the mainstream of ‘traditional’ Kenyan society. The issue of integration, particularly of Indian immigrants, into the country’s ‘national’ culture is still a matter of concern for many Kenyans, who see Indians as aloof and unwilling to embrace or even engage with such notions. This is not helped by a notable wealth gap between Indian Kenyans and black Kenyans, exemplified by the fact that the Hindu temple next to central house is the second most expensively-decorated and well-guarded building in Kakamega after the County Governor’s mansion. Yet I realised something in that moment: that this experience, as strangely ‘un-Kenyan’ as it was, also exemplified the very ungeneralisable, mixed makeup of a post-independence Kenya’s national identity, and how any strangeness was due to my inability to recognize the intertwined histories of Kenya, India, and the UK. Many of these people have lived in Kenya for twenty, thirty years or more; they have citizenship here; they are as Kenyan as their black neighbours, a symbol of an increasingly interconnected, post-colonial world, something I had singularly failed to appreciate. This experience, however unexpected, was indeed a truly ‘Kenyan’ one, an experience of a modern nation, still divided by boundaries of ethnicity, wealth, and culture, but in which the transcendence of those boundaries is on the horizon.

Trousers Maketh Man, or, “Who needs seatbelts when you’ve got a good pair of hands?”

The next day was a little stressful, but for me ended in a lot of fun whilst changing perceptions of Flora and myself as wazungus. The three-thousand-litre water tank was due to be delivered to Ematiha, plus all the materials for the tank stand and guttering accompanying it, and Flora and I were keen to drive back with it to ensure that it was not damaged on the hellishly bumpy road which made up half the journey back to the school. From beginning to end, I felt that the day really showed the ways in which Flora and I made a successful project pair. At Mitra Enterprises, Flora shone as the business front of our team, whilst I checked over the receipts, ensured our pick-up was ready, and that we weren’t going to be ripped off for transport costs. Because the pickup was only a single-berth vehicle, and because Flora and I both had our gigantic rucksacks on, I threw my bag in the back and sat on the rear wheel arch while Flora sat in the front. The drive to the depot to collect the materials was short but sweet, then soured by nearly an hour of waiting for the materials to be loaded. I felt impotent and frustrated, knowing that I could help if I was just shown which materials to carry, as I barely-shod, begrimed workers were ordered around, whilst I sat in the shade of the enormous warehouse in a plastic chair. I was greatly relieved when the tank and piping were (albeit barely) secured to to the pickup, but as the tank took up most of the space in the back we had to squeeze into the front with the driver. Yet luck seemed to favour us: as we were forced to lower the tailgate to accommodate some of the larger piping, the driver pulled over and to our surprise his son sat down on the back of the open truck. I saw my chance, and insisted that the son ride up front with his father, whilst Flora and I could sit in the back. It took some minutes to persuade him that we genuinely wanted to sit on some bits of cardboard on the metal floor: after all, else would we get the chance to speed down the road at fourty-five m.p.h with nothing but our hands to stop us falling off the back of a grossly-overloaded pickup truck? As we pulled out of a petrol station and turned onto the road out of Kakamega a man, clearly surprised to see us sitting in the back rather than the front, shouted at me “Eh, mzungu! What about the police?” Maybe it was just the sense of such an illegal rush, or the fulfillment of finally getting the tank to Ematiha (for which we’d just learned we’d got extra funding from the central charity), but I remember thinking ‘Screw the police!’ I would have happily paid any fine they would have given me for such a (by Kenyan standards, completely everyday) traffic offence.

Flora and I battling the mzungu stereotype, one coccyx-whacking less-than-legal pickup ride at a time

The ride, despite the bumps, was truly glorious, all seven and a half miles of it. People, normally surprised enough to see a mzungu at all, nearly lost it when they saw the two of us in the back of the truck, and the sense of freedom I felt as the road slipped away under us made me feel truly contented in that moment, with my chance to do the project, and with my place in life: young(-ish), healthy(-ish), and with an opportunity to effect some good In the world. Pulling into the school, I was suddenly brought back into the present by the many beaming faces which greeted us. As we helped unload the pickup I was glad to hear Flora praised for being so “aggressive” by the teachers for pulling her weight when it came to heavy lifting, and as we sat down later to our evening meal, I smiled as Flora recounted how surprised many of the female students were to hear that I did my fair share of cooking and washing. I think we cover each other’s shortcomings pretty perfectly, and we’re both weird enough to get on well on a personal level as well as a project-focused one. I’m glad I’m here, and that I’m with the people I’m with. I don’t enjoy every second I’m here, but that day was a great one. I may not be able to prove myself a man by Kenyan standards –wearing trousers, playing football, wanting several wives and a big family – but I feel like I am showing to people here who I am now. I may not be a man, but I am me, and it’s all I can do to better myself as I better the world around me.

“You wanted passion, but it is over”

These words to me exemplify a part of life here that continues to frustrate me no matter how hard I try to rationalize it. Having all returned to the central house in Kakamega, the project workers all decided to go out for a group meal. However, as a heavy evening rainstorm – now almost a daily occurrence as the rainy season began – delayed us leaving, we did not arrive eat our intended eatery in the centre of town until 9:00M. Despite the fact that the kitchen was closed, and only one other person sitting in the pale glow of the restaurant’s blaring TV, upon asking we were informed that yes, food was still being served. It only became obvious once we had ordered the food and drinks that they were opening the kitchen just for us.

Nearly two hours later, the food finally arrived, long after an attempted ordering of a round of drinks turned into a disaster. Many menus I’d encountered in Kenya required reading out to the waiting staff simply to find out what on the menu they actually had in stock, and Emily, one of the PWs, was only informed after ten minutes that the passion fruit juice she had ordered had run out: a perfunctory – and pretty poorly-phrased – “it is over” was the only explanation offered. This is something I still don’t understand, and am still majorly frustrated by on behalf of my inner fusty, pernickety Englishman. So many times here an offer has been made to me to provide a product or a service at a certain cost at a certain time, only for that time to come and find the work either more expensive on incomplete: this had happened from our timbers to our tank stand, from menus to shop opening times. What I don’t get is this: why do people make promises they are so utterly unable to keep? I would much rather be told beforehand that work would take longer, or cost more, or not be done, when I initially enquire about it rather than when it Is done (if at all). The phrase outgoing project manager Jo used to describe the phenomenon is “rampant incompetence”, but I would rather term it ‘unrealistic expectation mitigation failure’. This is not just an experience of a foreigner (though I’m sure being white doesn’t help), but of a daily reality here: people so desperate to please that they create parameters for themselves that they are hopelessly doomed to violate.

As much as I am enjoying myself here, I and growing more and more aware of what a large part delay and self-delusion play in everyday life here, even down to the running of schools, especially with the issue of school fees. At Ematiha only around half of students are fully able to clear their fees balance, and yet the school keeps those that don’t on its registers and gives many threats in order to keep its status as an examination centre, without which it would almost certainly close. This leads to a strange cycle to unkept promises: students don’t pay for all of the things covered by school fee (KSH6,000 more than the surely ironically-named Free Secondary Education (FSE) subsidy given by the government), whilst the school takes money in the form of a ‘caution’ deposit that no student ever receives back. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, schools like Ematiha are trapped in this web of unmet obligations, unable to kick out students because it needs them as exam entrants and unable to reduce school fees precisely because so little of them are paid back. It’s something I can’t really hope to change, either at the level of the school or at the wider cultural level of unrealistic expectation mitigation failure, but simultaneously it’s something I can foresee myself struggling to let go of.

Lirhanda

The following Saturday marked a strange halfway point in the official project – four working weeks down, four to go. It also marked the day that all of us from Kakamega would be meeting up with all the PWs from Kisii, EPAfrica’s other Kenyan site, before heading to a camp in the Kakamega National Rainforest for the night. My nerves grew as I anticipated the Kisii group’s imminent arrival, but tried to put it behind me as we piled into a couple of waiting matatus and headed east into the forest.

I’ve been lucky enough to have seen a rainforest before in my life in Sabah, Malaysia, but what struck me as we entered the Kakamega National Rainforest (the only rainforest in Kenya and some of its only remnants in East Africa) was its sheer, verdant density. From being able to see up to a mile or so over cane fields or tea plantations from the window of the matatu, I was suddenly unable to see more than four metres from the roadside. My vision was a tricoleur of red road, green trees and blue sky, my sense of space bewildered by this sudden, intense enclosure.

Upon arrival at the camp, I was lucky enough to get a bed in one of the two-person guesthouse rooms with Carlos, one of the Kisii PWs, whilst the majority of people slept in the tall, thatched-roof bandas in an adjoining glade. It felt good to sit, early evening, with a tangible sense of separation from the stresses of the project. I couldn’t tell whether my illness of a few weeks earlier had been partially due to being overworked – something many Kenyans seem to claim, and which I always deny – but I was able to lose myself and my worries in the sounds of the rainforest: the chirping of birds and insects, the distant calls of monkeys, the rustling of leaves in the breeze. Dazed by serenity, I watched glassy-eyed as a hummingbird flitted along a row of orchids from flower to flower. The peace was, however, very soon shattered by the congregation of all the PWs in the centre of the circle of bandas, and whilst is was interesting to hear how the Kisii lot were getting on with their respective projects, the rising noise and crowdedness made me yearn to be on my own. Tired from a late dinner and making conversation around a blazing fire, and finding myself distracted by gigantic forks of lightning which pierced the blackness of the night sky, I took my leave of the group and headed back to the oddly colonial guesthouse (turquoise, wood-paneled and on gigantic stilts) as the first fat droplets of a thunderstorm began to fall.

Bandas, strangely traditional against the heavily-managed landscaping of the camp

I was not best pleased by the next morning’s wake-up time of 4:30AM, but then, that was what I was there to do: the sunrise walk to the top of Lirhanda Hill, the highest point in the rainforest. Dismayed, like the rest of the group, to hear that breakfast would not be served until after the four-hour round-trip, I felt guiltily lucky that I’d brought a couple of snacks to eat for hypo-prevention: after all, the last place you want to have a screaming blackout-hypo is in the middle of a bloody rainforest. The food gave me the momentum to get through the first half-mile of walking through the dense forest, the narrow paths slick with mud and tree roots. The majority of the walking, however, was on the packed-earth road from Kakamega to Kapsabet, and I was relieved when, after nearly an hour and a half later we turned off the road and began climbing sharply uphill through the forest, the previously barely-visible sky now blacked out by the dense canopy. As it gre lighter we emerged, panting, from the treeline, and headed up the last few hundred metres to the top of Lirhanda Hill’s grassy knoll.

View to the northeast from Lirhanda Hill, with the Nandi Escarpment in the background

The sight that lay before me was one I’d been imagining since arriving in the forest, which nonetheless surprised me. The comparatively gentle hills surrounding Kakamega and Ematiha to the west were dwarfed by the clouded mass of Mt. Elgon to the north, and the Nandi Escarpment to the east, over which the first rays of dawn were breaking. Closer, a sea of dark green trees surrounded the hill on which we stood, dotted with streams and pools of low-hanging cloud which flowed with the contours of the land. It was here that the real differences in the temperament and dynamic of the Kakamega and Kisii PWs really began to show – whilst the latter were chattering away, snapping photos of themselves with the scenery in a large group, the former were crouching or sitting individually, dotted across the hillside, staring contemplatively at the horizon.

Dawn breaking over the Nandi Escarpment. At this point, tiredness itself could easily be mistaken for looking contemplative

I sat on my bag and gazed past the cows grazing on this incredible pasture, wondering how anything but silence could be the best way to enjoy the beauty of that moment. But I realised that for all of us, this moment was different. For some, it was about people: friendships forged, experiences shared. For me: it was about isolation: feeling that, cut off from all the securities and familiarities of home, I could find peace and happiness simply in staring into the sun as it rose over this incredible scene.

Our guide, Abraham (“The father of the nation, yes?”), began to talk about the forest’s biodiversity in general, then about Lirhanda’s and the forest’s importance to the Luhya people. To them, the hill is sacred, and a place for the performance of traditional rites. The forest is also used as a place for the traditional circumcision of Luhya boys, and Abraham spent a good ten minutes relating to us the beliefs of the Luhya regarding the practice. If an uncircumcised man’s children are circumcised, that man will die instantly, and even if uncircumcised, the process is of such tantamount importance that they will even circumcise corpses to ensure they pass on to the next life as men. This then diverged into a talk about the ‘magical’ plants of the forest, and of medicinal plants which can apparently completely cure conditions such as asthma and prostate cancer. Whilst unable to truly appreciate the sincerity of Abraham’s words, I nonetheless felt the pride of the Luhya people in this forest, the last bastion of Kenyan rainforest in a belt which once stretched from West Africa to the Indian Ocean, now under threat from locals harvesting firewood, honey and medicinal plants, and encroaching farms and tea plantations.

Walking back through the forest in daylight, craning my neck to see the fragments of crepuscular rays penetrating the thick foliage, I saw blue monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, and countless birds, jumping and flapping between trees with hoots and squawks, and felt a pang of sadness to imagine this beauty, so rich and imposing as I stood among it, under threat from humans and their desire for development.

It had been wonderful to see a side of Kenya I hadn’t reckoned on seeing, but Ematiha and the project were calling, and by lunchtime we were back in Kakamega, our bags full as we scrambled through a scrum of competing drivers into a matatu, waiting in the heat and the dust to be taken back to what, for now, was home.

The Kapsabet road through the forest, looking back towards Kakamega

I Am A Racist

The first time I saw Juma, I did not think of myself as someone with deeply-ingrained biases toward or against anyone based on the colour of their skin. As he wheeled his bicycle around the edge of the football pitch on which I was playing, I was intrigued to see another mzungu in Ematiha, particularly one who seemed so au fait with the language and behaviour of the students, joking and shaking hands as he pulled off his trousers to play in his shorts for the Form Ones. What with the place of the game and the encroaching afternoon rain, I did not notice until after the match had finished that he was an albino.

Juma, a Form One at Ematiha Secondary

To be an albino in East Africa is not an easy thing. Although in Kenya the situation is not as bad as in neighbouring Tanzania – where albinos are seen as possessing magical powers, and where some have been murdered and their body parts used in ‘traditional medicine’ – the social stigma of having ‘white’ skin here is almost inconceivable to someone coming from a multicultural society like the UK. Juma often gets jokes about being a mzungu, something which probably doesn’t help when I’m around: “Eh Juma/Tom [delete as appropriate], it is your brother!” Yet despite these difficulties, Juma is generally liked and accepted by his fellow students, and well-integrated into his community.

So why this instinctive pang of affinity? Why did I find it hard to conceive that he hadn’t been at school because of school fees payment issues, when I looked at his bicycle and his cap and his not-so-scuffed shoes? Because, despite all my attempts to convince myself that I’m a person without unreasonable prejudices, and having studies the assumptions and misguided beliefs which underpin colonial and neo-colonial oppression, I am a racist. Because, despite considering myself – in my arrogance – somewhat more world-wise than a lot of people here, many of whom have never left Kenya, there’s a part of my brain which, deep down, associates whiteness with cultural, geographic and economic similarity to me. Yet seeing him playing a traditional drum in preparation for the upcoming school harambee, I was truly conscious of my narcissism and binary categorizing. Juma speaks, acts, laughs, moves like a Kenyan precisely because he is one, and no anomalies of pigmentation should make he or I think any differently. To see him displaying most obviously his cultural roots showed me my own racist mindset, and how I will never move closer to a genuine connection with these people, as a people and as individuals, if I continue to think of myself, even for a microsecond, as a mzungu.

Harambee

Saturday 8th August, whilst the beginning of EPAfrica’s holiday week, was also the day of the school’s PTA fundraiser, or harambee. The word harambee, taken from Indian religious terminology and adapted by the first president of Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta, as a term for communities, both local and national, coming together to pool resources and serve the common good. The slogan was – somewhat ironically – painted on the gates of State House, the Governor of Kakamega County’s residence, surrounded by fences, guards, barbed wire, and photos informing me that “PHOTOGRAPHY IS PROHIBITED”. This notion is used to front many different fundraising efforts that I’d witnessed around Kakamega, mainly by schools and churches, and it was how Ematiha Secondary had funded the building of all its classrooms, as well as its planned kitchen and dining hall (the students currently ate outside in the shade of the trees, of little use during the rainy season’s sudden downpours).

The day started for me as uncomfortably as I had predicted – helping put up decorations in a white shirt, suit trousers and dress shoes. I was glad to be helping the school put things together, especially since the event was supposed to be starting at 9:30, but then again, I should have remembered ‘Kenyan timekeeping’. The students were still rehearsing their entertainments for the guests at 11:00, just as the first guests began to arrive. The term ‘guest’ here became somewhat of a different phenomenon. Not only were there ranks of guest – Chief Guest, Guest of Honour, Guest, Assistant Guest – but to me the usage seemed to lack the more simple semantics it had in my English. The web of implicit obligations that I was still so unfamiliar and uncomfortable with was in action in full swing here (after all, the objective of the day was raising money for the school), but I was still surprised at just how pervasive it was. Despite my primary role here being to invest money in the school, I was still being asked for fifty bob – as Kenyan Shillings are called here, the Anglicism being much shorter than the Kiswahili shillingi – for a small ribbon pinned to my chest with the label ‘Host’, even the principal and the teachers were expected to cough up KSH 1000, the students KSH 200, and even Ambani himself, the principal, along with the members of the PTA and Board of Management, were contributing at least a thousand shillings each to the effort. The entertainments, however, bewildered me even more. As the choir performed songs singing of the school’s virtues, praises of the guests of honour were woven in, and as these were repeated, students would come forward, beckoning the named guest to dance with them, and presenting them with a garland, then returning to their position in the choir, but not before the guest gave them an ‘appreciation’ of a hundred or so shillings. This oddity reached a peak during the girls’ traditional Luhya dance, where the female students, decked out in colourful frilled dresses of green, red and white, would wriggle and thrust their shoulders and hips, dropping to their knees and prostrating themselves before the guests to sung calls of toa, toa, toa (‘give, give, give’). To see a forty-something-year-old bishop dancing with a sixteen-year-old girl before giving her money was a something I wasn’t exactly comfortable with, especially given the blankness on many of the girls’ wide-eyed faces, sweating beneath the midday sun, was something I didn’t feel entirely comfortable with.

As far as I can see, Kenya definitely takes the biscuit for most righteous graffiti

Yet as I watched this sight that seemed to me on many levels wholly inappropriate, I recalled something the Deputy Head Teacher, Rinah, had said in her address to the students earlier in the morning. “Remember, this is not your right. We need to entertain the guests well so that they will give more money to the school.” It was this keen sense of desperation and being under constant financial pressure that made the school, like the girls, prostrate itself at the feet of its beneficiaries, revealing its vulnerability and the fragility of education here. This is why the term harambee is so important to these people – at a certain level, it is a true and heavy reliance on community and charity which just about manages to keep the school running and its pupils in school, whilst revealing just how insufficient government funding is for schools like Ematiha. For people here, education is a privilege, not a right, and this event was proof of a communal desperation to pull themselves out of a subsistence existence. It was easy enough for me to feel disturbed by the event as I trekked out of the village towards Kakamega, eventually hitching a lift on a tractor pulling a trailer of river sand, but as someone with the ability to leave any time I liked, I was unable to share this sense of desperation, unable in my financial isolation to share the need for communal struggle. People here are dealing in any way they can with a fiscal hardship that has plagued many Kenyans since before Uhuru, or independence, and it is not for me, or anyone in such a comparatively removed, privileged position, to offer idealistic, naïve judgements on the way these people engage with this hardship.

Right, that's quite enough of that for now. I hope this has made slightly more interesting reading than my last post, and if it hasn't, I hope it's at least not worse than it. And if not, then all I can offer is my apologies.

Here, in this moment, I am happy. I hope you are too.

Tom


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