30 June 2012

Kenya: A Different Kenya Right Next Door


It is four months now since I moved to the county of Kajiado, the land of lion killers! Up until they killed those lions, I had no reason to complain or miss my days in the central Nairobi. But of course the killing of the felines had me thinking again about the people I live with here.

I have known for long that the community harbours a near-worship status to their domestic animals and they would go to any length to protect their animals. But that 'far' was too far indeed.

Nevertheless, I still enjoy living here, away from the stresses of daily traffic jams, matatu madness on the roads and the artificial noises around the clock. Here, noise ceases as the sun goes down the horizon. It becomes very quiet and peaceful at night as the moon lights up the six peaks of the Ngong hills, dropping their shadows on the sleepy town of kiserian, to stand guard over the people, through the night.

I came here with me the habits I acquired after living in the city for over 21 odd years. The habit of closing the day with a 7km jog and a cold Tusker at the end of the run. I have since slowed down on the habit because I found out something else that is different here. Since I don't go home to change first before I hit my cold beer, appearing in a pub with a tight biker and a bandana on the head, was not a good sight to the locals.

The few Maasai friends that I have made told me frankly that they were not comfortable with my training attire in the bar. Much later, I came to realise that even night life is very different here compared to city life. The level of family value is very high. Even without Mututho rules, bars strictly open after 5pm. And even then, there are hardly any clients who go into the bars while the sun still shines.

Patrons who would be in the bar at such times are still managing their businesses, which are open up to late evening to serve those who arrive from work in the city. At say 8pm, the bars start receiving their first clients, who are mostly men in their retirement age. Where there is a woman, she is, in most cases, drinking with her husband and they will leave together after an hour. Hardly would you see skimpily dressed girls, underage or otherwise, mingling with the elderly in a drinking spree like it happens in town. Before the official Mututho time of 11pm arrives, most bars are already empty and the town goes to sleep, as sober as a monk.

During my longest sabbatical leave from the bush, I chose to watch a match on the ongoing Euro 2012 cup, with my friends in the city. We had decided on a common centralised venue which would be convenient to everyone. That venue was a pub next to Nation Centre. When I got there, there was absolutely no parking. Yet it was 5pm, and a weekday to boot. Why was I not surprised? This is a trend that has existed since about 10 years ago. The present young generation has the money. They have enough brains to go by. But they have gone completely crazy on how to use their money and time.

To them, priorities are; get a job, get a car, exercise your freedom of association and be a member of a drinking club, never get to bed sober, avoid rent by staying with parents, don't marry because that will mess with your freedoms and avoid relationships because that stinks as well. While the youth in the city are engaging in self destructive habits all week and spend only Sunday to recuperate, those in the know, are in Kiserian and other places that offer an opportunity to exercise their bodies and minds while enjoying the best sceneries with their friends and families.

If you want to know, climbing Ngong Hills is an exercise that does not require athletic fitness. It is free (unless you want to hire security). It can be a full day family outing and you can also do nyama choma right on the tip of the hill. Now you know.

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