Postcards from far away

The nation of Kenya is a colonial creation, first envisioned in 1895. — Sign at National Museum

It is time to share the first impres­sions that Nairo­bi has made on us. Below the text you can find the pic­tures that I will describe here.

We have been to the arbore­tum a num­ber of times, that is a park with a lot of trees that are home to some mon­keys. The arbore­tum was estab­lished in 1907 to pro­vide wood for the rail­way. At that time, they plant­ed some fast grow­ing exot­ic species. By now, there are also a lot of indige­nous species, labeled with signs. Espe­cial­ly in the week­end, the park is very pop­u­lar as a loca­tion to pic­nic and relax.

We vis­it­ed a church called Mavuno Down­town. The min­is­ter found it hard to under­stand how David fought with lions and bears to pro­tect just one sheep. This thought led him to anoth­er amaz­ing phe­nom­e­non: white peo­ple. “I don’t have a prob­lem with white peo­ple… but you guys have a prob­lem! If I turn on Dis­cov­ery Chan­nel, I see peo­ple run­ning after croc­o­diles and snakes for fun, and hug­ging lions. And they’re all white peo­ple. Did you ever see a black per­son do that?”


So that was quite fun­ny. As for us, we only saw the wildlife in stuffed ver­sion. In the Nation­al Muse­um they had a lot of these, and a skele­ton of ele­phant Ahmed (more about him maybe in the future). There was also a lot of infor­ma­tion about the his­to­ry of Kenya, to a great extent dom­i­nat­ed by the coloni­sa­tion and its after­math. The strug­gle for inde­pen­dence got very vio­lent in the end.

The armed fight agains the British is com­mem­o­rat­ed by the stat­ue of Kimathi, a leader of the Mau Mau move­ment. The stat­ue has only been put there some years ago, and it marks a change in how the Kenyan gov­ern­ment views the Mau Mau. For more about this I rec­om­mend the book Britain’s Gulag, from Car­o­line Elkins.


We saw some more his­to­ry at the Nation­al Archive, found our­selves on a tourist mar­ket, and enjoyed the reg­gae music in the bus. The last pic­ture is the place across the road from our com­pound. We often had din­ner here, at the red para­sols. It was very expen­sive, when you look at the cars you can tell only very rich peo­ple come there. But since we are stu­dents no longer, we should start look­ing for our first hum­mer our­selves of course…

This week we trav­elled to Nanyu­ki, where we hope to set­tly for the next three months. We will be going to Nairo­bi reg­u­lar­ly, for exam­ple next week. The main office of ACT is there, and oth­er offices where Fred­dy is going to inter­view people.

So: “Sawa, sawa” (good, good), so far!