30.07.2010 26 °C
Endless heavy Luo beats at incredible decibels all night (unless the power goes out), numerous tented pavillions, important dignitaries, marching bands, double-jointed entertainers, curious visitors, pick-pockets...
It's the week REAP has been gearing up to for months. The annual Kisumu agriculture show crashed upon us this week starting with judging on Tuesday. All the REAP staff and workers called it 'Judgement Day' which gave it a very ominous and slightly fearful ring. I did find the prospect frightening and panic me slightly because of how last minute a lot of things became. Painting of the REAP stand was still being done on the morning of the judging as was putting up displays inside the REAP building, all quite intense for me, especially as judging could take place from 9am onwards.
However, I didn't need to worry as the REAP stand looked great (by 12...), completely relaxed and ready for the 3 rounds of judging for the 3 categories REAP had entered. REAP had won all 3 categories last year, so there was a certain pressure to do just as well this time round, though it seems REAP did more than enough to retain all 3 trophies - 1st place in Environmental Management, 1st place in small trade stand, 1st place in non-governmental organisation stand. In the latter category, I heard we were the sole entrant, however, so I don't know if there is much glory in winning that one...
The judges were very impressed, one of them saying things such as there being too much knowledge for him to take in. He kept shaking his shiny black head and laughing, showing his bright white teeth whenever he was shown a new thing. I'm sure the other judge (Father Alfred with thick glasses which kept falling down his nose) was swung to vote for REAP by my kilt as he had visited Scotland in 2006 (Penicuik no less) and enjoyed it immensely.
Incidentally, most people here have never seen a man wearing a kilt here, most shouts directed at me were 'why are you wearing a skirt?' Whole crowds of heads turned my way when I walked by (including a whole marching band). I guess a stranger sight than just a white person in Kenya is a long-haired white man wearing a skirt.
Emma has found it a long day sitting in the heat and noise at her little school resources stand, although she has been encouraged by the responses from some visitors who are impressed by Em's creativity and ingenuity, saying things such as they now have ideas to make toys and resources for their pupils or children. A checkers game made from bottle tops has especially been a hit among the REAP staff playing it during the quieter times.
On Wednesday, we collected our trophies from the main pavilion as well as a certificate of participation for REAP. Strangely, the certificate we received was incorrectly written- Rural Extension for Africa's Poor had somehow become Rural Africa with Peoples Poor, which doesn't even make any sense. I received the certificate from the MP for Kisumu who had recognised me as a Scotsman for wearing my kilt the day before, I even had a mention in his speech to the assembled crowd!
President Kibaki is supposed to be coming on Saturday, so I will wear my kilt again during the day and see if I get any more special mentions.