I’m sorry for abandoning you over the past several months, but I have made a resolution to resume my Friday blogs. And what better time to start, than after a long-awaited visit to my homeland, which changes every time I go there.
My first day in Kenya for three years, after a smooth night flight, starts with a half-hour taxi ride from the airport over the new bypass alongside the Nairobi Park boundary. Last time, the journey to my son’s home near Wilson Airport had taken 90 minutes. I note that a sliver of land has been cut away from the Park to allow for the new road, but I’m already revelling in the warmth and the sunshine, letting my hair drift outside the car window as we bimble along at speed.
I am introduced to Sassie, a beautiful golden retriever, who has his heart on his sleeve, “talks” all the time, and tries so very hard to be good.
After breakfast, we tour the Langata suburb of Nairobi. Smooth, newly-widened paved roads. Cars moving steadily forward. The familiar Hardy Dukas of old is now replaced by an enormous shopping complex. The Police Station is still there, sporting gleaming painted walls. The traffic chaos seems a little more orderly than I remember, but I am advised not to drive in Nairobi. “It’s much worse than before, Mum”.
We visit Kazuri Beads. Kazuri means “small and beautiful” in Swahili. Lady Susan Wood founded the enterprise in 1975 as a tiny workshop experimenting in making hand made beads.
Joseph gives us a private tour of the factory, from the baking of the clay – originally imported from the UK, but now sourced locally – through to moulding, painting, glazing and firing.
Ladies (and even one or two men) working at benches. People in colourful clothes, with imaginative hairstyles happy to pose for photos.
One lady is “attached” to a disabled woman, they share earphones as they work to music. I click away with my camera in the joyful atmosphere. Then I enter the shop and buy three necklaces.
We go to Karen. New modern shopping centres and housing estates have popped up all over the place. The road is lined with “jua kali” (hot sun) fruit and flower stalls and nurseries.
We pass an impressively tidy row of matatus, all lined up. An enormous new mall rises just past the Karen Roundabout, but it is practically empty and feels so quiet after the bustle outside.
The following day we catch the plane for a one-hour flight to Ukunda and the humidity of the coast. A lovely day, not too hot. It had rained before we arrived, clearing the air…
See you next Friday!