Kenya is not a simple place.
We went to the Nairobi National Park to see incredibly beautiful animals. We saw Lions, Wildebeest, Giraffes, Secretary Bird, Heart Beast, Elan, Thomson Gazelle, Wart hogs, Rhinoceros, Hippo, and more. It was wonderful. Way better than on TV or photos. The smell was unlike anything I’ve experienced. Over the top beautiful.
It’s a mess.
The slums are a collage of garbage, rubble, corrugated metal, rope, and “mystery materials”. It is hard for a Canadian to actually look at it. It is also very hard for a Canadian to listen to the slum people talk about their beautiful home neighbourhood (especially Mathare). I’m getting used to it and beginning to see the features they love. It’s kind of like a beehive where they need all the people around them. They love the sound and smell. I’m still exploring this and don’t really understand it.
It’s densely populated.
There are tons of people and cars. The traffic is bumper to bumper. There are times when our drivers turn off the car and we wait for 15 minutes to get going. The people density is thick downtown, it gets denser in Kibera, it gets even denser in Mathare, and then we went Korogotche (ultra-dense) which was a mind altering experience. To help you understand, Mathare rents are around $12USD month and Korogotche is less. The guys from the Kibera neighbourhood were wary of driving thru it.
It’s well dressed and groomed.
Everywhere. We are teaching in the slums of Mathare and the contrast between the people and the landscape is shocking. The people are all dressed, pressed, and groomed. Even as they navigate the garbage. The sight is disorienting, well dressed people and slum buildings in the same place.
Kenya is friendly.
Everyone has been extremely nice to us. Our program has helped many business owners in Kibera, Mathare, and Dandora become more successful and they want to talk to us about it and train more of their neighborhoods.
Kenya is security conscious.
We went to Safaricom House for a student show and went through a process like at the airport. Metal detectors for bags and personal search. We’ve been shopping at the Nakumatt General Store and security is a bit lighter, but still it’s there. There are security people working at every store downtown and at every hotel. The locals expect it.
Here is a link to my photos.