31.08.2010 27 °C
was the headline in the Daily Nation as President Kibaki signed in Kenya’s new constitution in a celebration in Nairobi on Friday the 27th of August. The new constitution is meant to usher in more equality, justice and accountability, things that the people of Kenya have never really had. The constitution had been passed in a peaceful referendum by the people of Kenya a few weeks before hand. Mwai Kibabki called it ‘the dawn of a new era’ in his speech.
It is exciting to be in Kenya while these potential seismic shifts in a country’s direction are taking place. I just hope and pray that things do change for the better for the common man, that the country as a whole can start moving forward for the good of everyone (not to line the leaders’ pockets).
We are really pleased that this event has not seen any violence this time round, though a number of foreigners were leaving the country early just in case .
It is also exciting to be part of a new event for REAP as well. A kindly soul, a friend of ours, who wishes to remain nameless (obviously a humble soul as well), donated a significant sum to us through Pioneers. Tempted to use it all on a beach holiday in Mombasa, we were brought to our senses and decided to use the cash on motorbikes for Sam and George, the male field staff for REAP here in Kisumu. REAP have been interested in acquiring piki-pikis for many years, so it has been really encouraging to the Kisumu staff here as it should make a real difference in the work. Taking public transport can be quite a hassle, sitting a long time waiting for a matatu to fill up, or haggling at a junction about the price of a piki-piki taxi ride. The motorbikes have a large rack which can be used for carrying plant material for planting at someone’s farm.
I have joined Sam and George doing motorbike lessons which has been an interesting experience. Most of the road- users either with motorbikes or in cars don’t have licenses, but it seems important to get trained up properly. That doesn’t stop training being another cultural insight. Theory, for example, is exactly what it says it is, theoretical. There is no practical application for the lessons in real life…The various road signs that we need to know are never encountered on the roads. I especially like the sign for bumpy road ahead, which you could put up anywhere. The sign for youth hostel is strange, seeing as there are none in Kenya either.
The practical side of things is strange to me as well, one of the things we were encouraged to do was to bring in our own motorbikes to train on. I couldn’t understand how you were suppose to ride them from the shop to the training ground without any training. Next, we have been allowed to ride around on our motorbikes around town without much worry. I have found that a little hairy, but a very good way to learn quickly! The road out to the training site passes the airport and there are a lot of large trucks and matatus on that route.
The matatus are somewhat disconcerting, it is a wee bit frightening to see them fly towards you in your lane as they do an overtaking manouevure, expecting anyone in the way to move out of their way.
Anyway, apart from these incidental things, we have our test tomorrow! I am not too worried about it as I have grown confident riding the mad streets of Kisumu.
Here are a couple of photos of the motorbike training. One of the photos shows one of the green off-road bikes we have bought.
Emma and I have been particularly encouraged by other gifts from the UK, a couple of packages from Greyfriars church in Reading in the form of Claire and Sarah.
They have been using their creativity and enthusiasm to help design and paint a mural at the orphans’ nursery school which Em has been involved at. The kids and their voluntary teachers have all been helping, giving ideas, painting and cleaning up brushes. It has been a real boost to the esteem of the teachers seeing their classroom come to life with a large Noah’s ark floating on the wall.
The girls have been great guests, we have a laugh together while playing bananagrams and they have enjoyed the good and ugly sides of Kenyan life with us. Thankfully, we have had plenty of water through the taps which has made life so much less hassle for them and us. It means there is always enough water to wash hair, a very crucial part of life, I have come to realize.
When we have visitors, Em and I appreciate what a blessing it is to have so many people interested in us and the work that we are involved in out here in Kenya. Thanks!