Familiar Scenes in Kenyan Elections.

IDLO-Kenya-Elections-2017

Elections in Kenya have never been credible, not even fare nor free. The multi party democracy in Kenya started when Kenneth Matiba was arrested and detained on July 4, 1990 together with Charles Rubia, and then political activist Raila Odinga, (also a candidate in this years elections) for demanding the re-introduction of multi-party democracy. At that time, the repression by President Daniel arap Moi’s (Nyayo was his other name) regime was at its peak.

The Cold War had collapsed and many Africa strongmen, including Moi, found themselves under pressure from donors and development partners in the West, as well as from home-grown movements, to allow multi-party democracy. The arrest of Rubia, Matiba, and Raila were to pre-empt a rally that had been planned by opposition leaders at the Kamkunji grounds in Nairobi on July 7.

The rally had been baptised Saba Saba. The group was led by Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, Masinde Muliro, Timothy Njoya, James Orengo, Paul Muite, Gitobu Imanyara, and Martin Shikuku, among others, to press for greater democratic space and a stop to human rights abuses. Despite the ban by the government, thousands of Kenyans marched in defiance of a previously unchallengeable regime to make their way to Nairobi’s Kamukunji grounds to press the case for democracy……(Kenyans forget history very fast).

This is the second election since the passage of the new constitution in 2010, and the votes will likely be a referendum on some of its successes and failures of President Uhuru Kenyatta….son the the first president.  It was being watched closely from all ends of the world. But Kenya has faced myriad obstacles to peaceful elections in the past, and there are three main issues which were at watch as August 8 approached: ongoing healthcare strikes, the role of false or defamatory news, and the potential for vote rigging…..the later being a common occurrence during elections.

Another issue of great concern was the growing prevalence of election-related mudslinging. In an already tense environment, the distribution of defamatory headlines about candidates was contributing to fears about potential electoral violence. The spread of fake news is particularly rapid in Kenya, where articles can be shared widely due to the high rate of mobile and internet access, a relatively youthful population, and a large volume of Twitter use. So days before the elections, people shopped, they wanted to make sure they had enough food….or call it more that enough, others travelled to safer places…..I mean places they felt safe.

When I travelled to Kisumu on the weekend before the election, I visited a major supermarket store and on that day they had recorded sales of 12 million two hours before they close of their business, more that double what they normally sale. There was great demand for transport to the country sides and the fares were doubled and in some places tripled. After violence following a disputed election in 2007 left approximately 1,400 dead, Kenyans are always afraid when election knocks on their doors. So afraid that those who were able, booked flights and jetted out of the country minutes before others queued to cast their votes.

Its calm today, elections have come and gone. IEBC, the body that oversees the election says that the incumbent won, they have also admitted that there was attempted hacking of their system……lets just call it hacking, I am a techie and I know there is nothing like attempted hacking…..and they need time to produce form 34a even though they have all the form 34b which are supposed to be generated from the former. Forms 34A are filled at polling stations to show how votes were cast before they are transmitted to the constituency level where the results are filled into forms 34B.

There has been demand from the part of public not to look into what happened during and after they cast their vote saying…….they would like to move on with their lives. Business stopped for one week and the roads were empty….so empty that I enjoyed biking 46 km two days after I cast my vote. It took three days to get the winner. People in some areas had run out of patient and collided with the force of police. Innocent lives were lost, lives of small children…….shot by police at close range. I restrained myself from watching news, from being on a political side and from wanting to know who had won.

It’s been 11 days since we went to the polls, NASA the opposition coalition have declared they will go to the supreme court….the highest court of the land. The move has been welcomes by those holding the government. IEBC on the other had still maintain their stand that the election was free, fair and credible, even with all the allegations that have knocked on their door. Some people have celebrated the innocent lives taken by the police, they have had a big laugh in death. The president came out and called for peace, and asked police not to use brutal force, but the damage is already done. If those victims will ever get justice remains to be witnessed.

Life has moved on very fast, people are going to work, others are pretending to be friends again. Husband and wife are talking again…….everything will go well for the next five years, then we will be at it again. Rigging elections, fleeing danger, overshopping and losing innocent lives…..all that while we call ourselves brothers and sisters.

The one who rigs best wins. The winners have their way and their say also.

 

 

Sinking in tradition, with a Glass of Mursik.

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Mursik is sour milk with a sharp almost bitter taste popular among the Kalenjin community. To the newbies mursik may look “dirty” until they get a good taste of the beverage.

When hit on the palate by the sweet crispy flavor most overlook the “dirt”, which is actually a herb that is burnt and ground to charcoal powder and blended in the milk during fermentation. The milk is typically served from colorful gourds or sotet, a tradition that has fast been elevated to the national psyche as a ritual in honoring Kalenjin heroes and athletes for astounding achievements.

Due to widespread awareness on hygiene standards and changes in lifestyles, pasteurization of milk as a first step is requisite. Earlier on direct milking was done into a treated gourd then the milk would be mixed with blood and stored in a cool place to ripen.

Fresh boiled milk is covered to avoid contamination and allowed to cool down before pouring into a treated sotet. The sotet is then corked tightly with a treated lid and stored in a cool place for several days, usually three but can be up to one week, to allow it to ripen.

New and old gourds are first cleaned and left to dry in the sun for a few days. Cleaning is done using bow shaped branches of palm trees or sosiot whose edges have been pounded until they become brush-like. The inner linings of new gourds and the coating of previous milk stored in old gourds are removed to prevent passing bitter taste to mursik.

Treating the sotet is the hard part and requires extreme care and skill. The skill is passed from generation to another.  Cassia didymobotrya (acacia) or sertwet is the preferred tree for imparting preservative and aromatic effect to milk. The sertwet herb added to the milk helps in quick fermentation and has medicinal value.

Other popular ones include simotwet and wattle but Senetwet is by far the most commonly used because of its availability. Burning embers of sticks from the tree branches are put inside the clean dry sotet and shaken vigorously to drop the charcoal formed and to avoid burning the gourd.

Using the iitet, a tool used as a mortar in many mursik preparation sessions, the embers are methodically pressed and ground against the wall of the sotet in a circular in and out motion of the hand, an action described as suutet. This action is repeated until the charcoal powder is evenly distributed on the walls of the gourd. Excess and large particles of charcoal are discarded and the gourd is allowed to cool down. The sotet is now ready for the freshly boiled cool milk.

The gourd can be filled in one or several portions depending on availability of milk. One portion filling is however the most preferred because it avoids many problems related to milk quality, flavor and exposing to harmful bacteria.

Serving mursik

serving

Shake the sotet to stir the mursik into fine sour milk with smooth and uniform consistency.  White globules of butter occasionally float at the top of the gourd when milk is ripe. A good ripe sotet should produce a popping sound upon tapping the lid, allowing excess air to escape. Mursik can be taken on its own or served as a supplement cold with hot ugali.

Mursik has been around for the last 300 years as a traditional method of preserving excess milk. Popularity of mursik has surpassed all the other versions of sour milk and has become part of the national heritage.

The growing market for traditional foods puts mursik as one of the products that can be harnessed and value added to fetch stable income for the producers.  Issues on quality and acceptability of the “charcoal” by a wide range of consumers can be sorted out.

If you happen to be in Kalenjin land, you have to follow my footsteps, sink in this tradition with a glass of Mursik.

Learning Organic Farming in Eldoret.

 

A welcome to Eldoret takes me through the maize plantation, few miles drive and the home is waiting. Countryside is different, maybe unique in many ways. People live easy life, they have little to worry about pollution, weather carbon or noise. They eat organic, drink organic and breathe the same. This is Eldoret, the home of the famous Kenyan long-distance athletes. Here is the town where Kenya began to cultivate her greatest claim to international fame. Here Kipchoge Keino, Moses Kiptanui and Paul Tergat honed their natural talents, to become colossuses in their fields.

There is not much to do here, to be honest. Eldoret is an extremely functional town, filled with agro-vet shops and wholesale dukas run by descendants of south Asians brought in as cheap labour during the building of the “Lunatic Express”, the railway that was to link the coast of Kenya to the rich hinterlands of Uganda. There are no galleries, no parks, no theatres, or museums. There is a vibrant nightlife, however, and Kenyans here do not disappoint, night clubs like Spree and Signature competing for custom with typical gusto and verve; drinks and meals are affordable, at $3 for an ice cold beer and about $5 for a full meal at a decent cafeteria.

 

Under this trees 54 different species of birds dwell. They have mastered the art on community coexistence. They live and work in common grounds, and do it with high level of efficiency. Weaver bird is what they are called, they design and build intricate nests. When the nest is complete, the male will announce an open house by fluttering his wings. He invites a female home and hopes she approves. If she does, there will be eggs in the nest within days. If she doesn’t, the nest is usually abandoned. A male will often make multiple nests over the course of the mating season. In most instances, most weaver males never become parents.

 

Our stay at the Water Crest Guest House was full of fun. The rabbits danced to us every morning and all day long. The walk freely on the green lawn looking for food and interacting with nature. They are very beautiful to watch. We also enjoyed good hospitality and a wonderful breakfast.

I have a close relationship with Lel-met who is now a mother to Baraka turned 5 days today and Lel-gina. Baraka is trying to adjust to his new life. He sleeps alot and when its time to play, he loves to do that. He also jumps to eveny opportunity to have his share of milk from his mother.

The dwelling of the bees is in the hives, but finally I found the place where they are spending all their time, here at the sunflower garden. Bees see all colors except the color red. That and their sense of smell help them find the flowers they need to collect pollen. Not only is pollen a food source for bees, but also some of the pollen is dropped in flight, resulting in cross pollination.

Honeybees produce honey from pollen and nectar of the plants they pollinate. They store the honey in honeycombs in their nests, which they use to feed their young in colder months.

Considered by animal behaviorists to be smarter than dogs, pigs are clever animals who are also friendly, loyal, and intelligent. They are naturally very clean and avoid soiling their living areas. When they are not confined on factory farms, pigs spend hours playing, lying in the sun, and exploring their surroundings with their powerful sense of smell. On this picture, the story is almost the same, the female are seen here comforting each other with warmth as they enjoy an afternoon nap while the men on the other hand fight for food.

If you look at Sugoi, you might think that he is the mother to Chepkorgen. But the truth is that Korgen lost her mother a few days after she was born. The story is that after she was milked, she just collapsed and died, yea. For the months that followed, she had to depend on milk from other cows for her development. She can now graze on her own, and her health is getting better.

Kasuye also just got a new baby days ago. We named him Andeso, it means small……really small. Together with their friends they feed along the maize plantation. Sometimes they get naughty and get themselves to areas they are not allowed to occupy, its always a push and pull scenario.

Long time ago this was bubblegum for my wife. They loved to play around this tree and feed from the glue it produces. Things have now changed for her, I married her and took her to the store. Now she knows where to get bubblegum. When she was here, she reminded herself of those good old days.

The things that make an animal farm work are simple….or sometimes complex mechanical, civil contractions. The shade for milking, the place you stop by every morning and evening to earn them milk. The borehole, you need a constant supply of water, my father told me that water translates to milk……..he wasnt wrong one bit. Fences act like fire walls, if you don’t have on, are not planning to invest in one, you will always have hackers in the animal farm and once the data is invaded, you will need sometime to recover from the lose……..time is always precious. Last you need accessibility, controlled movement with small gates that can close at a small human effort. Now it’s closed…..now it’s open.

The tree is under siege, with caterpillars all over it, not the shoes but the insects. Caterpillars that defoliate trees in your home landscape can be invasive and sometimes require control measures. The first option is to do nothing. Healthy deciduous trees usually survive defoliation and grow back a second set of leaves.

Manual control on individual trees includes hand removal of egg masses, inhabited tents and pupa, and installation of sticky tree wraps on trunks to capture caterpillars as they move up and down trees. Do not leave egg masses on the ground; drop them in a container of detergent. Do not attempt to burn tents while they are on trees. This is hazardous to the health of the tree. But still here we see insects overpowering the caterpillar on ground….today, you are our food.

 

Navigating the animal farm is tricky, the ground is always maddy especially when it rains and covered with animal  remains……cow, pig, sheep goat, chicken all combined, every morning you wake up. My father-in-law has found a perfect shoe that fits the job. Looking at them, they has seen better days, they rest on dry ground after a morning of duty and they know, another day awaits. It reminds me of a song “ask my shoes” they always have a story to tell. My wife walks the ground with her purple espadrille……yea I thought so too. She is not on a spanish holiday.

The rewards of organic farming are very evident, if you stop for one minute and enjoy, you gather strength to wake up tomorrow and push some more. So there I was, leaving Eldoret with a pack of all goodies from my mother-in-law. Sour milk with black charcoal AKA mursik, Fresh lemons and more than enough cereals, all from the organic farm.

#OrganicFarming

Meeting ‘Jotto’ at David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.

 

The David Sheldrick is a haven for orphaned elephants. Born from one family’s passion for Kenya and its wilderness, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is today the most successful orphan-elephant rescue and rehabilitation program in the world and one of the pioneering conservation organisations for wildlife and habitat protection in East Africa. Everyday the gates open to the public from 11am to noon and with a small fee of $5 per visitor, you are able to see the young elephants up close, touch them and listen to their stories.

There are few places left on the planet where the impact of people has not been felt. We have explored and left our footprint on nearly every corner of the globe.  As our population and needs grow, we are leaving less and less room for wildlife.

Wildlife are under threat from many different kinds of human activities, from directly destroying habitat to spreading invasive species and disease.  Most ecosystems are facing multiple threats. Each new threat puts additional stress on already weakened ecosystems and their wildlife.

At the heart of the DSWT’s conservation activities is the Orphans’ Project, which has achieved world-wide acclaim through its hugely successful elephant and rhino rescue and rehabilitation program. The Orphans’ Project exists to offer hope for the future of Kenya’s threatened elephant and rhino populations as they struggle against the threat of poaching for their ivory and horn, and the loss of habitat due to human population pressures and conflict, deforestation and drought.

To date the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust has successfully hand-raised over 150 infant elephants and has accomplished its long-term conservation priority by effectively reintegrating orphans back into the wild herds of Tsavo.

This place has now become famous for visitors, since I first came here, the number of visitors have continued to grow by the day which is a good thing for the foundation. Visitors who wish to adopt a baby elephant are welcomed to do so. Having placed a donation to help the elephant, they receive monthly updates about their baby and any time with an appointment, they are allowed to visit without any additional charges.

So today I took my two nieces for a treat, at this place. First Imani was fascinated by the fact that the baby elephants will be very close to her and she will want to touch them. Ningala, wasn’t talking much. We were at the gate a few minutes past 10am, everybody had worked up for this much treasured hour. Most of the crowd were tourists, and others were Kenyans visiting from the United States……..ask me how I know about that, and a few of us including tour drivers and guides. It was dusty, auto machines were taking over the whole parking.

The DSWT is located on the Kenya Wildlife Workshop Gate off Magadi road, about 20km from the city centre. Its accessible by car because you have to drive through the park to access the Sheldrick gate. The elephant Nursery is located in Nairobi National Park. In addition, there are 3 reintegration units are located in the Greater Tsavo Conservation Area at Voi, Ithumba and Umani Springs in the Kibwezi Forest. At the notice board, we could see all in pictures and their stories well written, and we fell in love with Jotto and we wanted to know more about Jotto.

Jotto was rescued on the 21st March 2016, having fallen down a well in the Namunyak Conservancy in Northern Kenya. He was found by herdsmen who had taken their cattle for water at the well on the morning of the 20th of March. They reported the calf to Namunyak Conservancy staff who later sent their scouts to extract the baby. He was rescued at around 10am and the team remained with the calf at the scene, whilst rangers attempted to locate the mother for the rest of the day.

March is always the hottest time of the year in Kenya, particularly at lower altitudes, and this last year due to the equinox combined with unpredictable weather patterns due to global warming, ambient temperatures countrywide were a lot warmer than anyone can remember, with advice to people at sea level to remain indoors and take regular cold showers in order to avoid heat stroke. For this reason, they named this little well victim “Jotto” (in Swahili spelled ‘Joto’ and pronounced “Injoto~ – the word that describes such hot conditions).

The babies were taking milk in two groups, first one with younger elephants and the second, those who are a little older. Jotto was in the first group, but we kept guessing who Jotto was, we were all wrong. After they had taken their milk they played around and with the visitors. A gentleman who I have encountered all the times I have visited here, who speaks really good english and carries the history and the names of all the baby elephants in his head takes the microphone and commands the stage and the visitors listen keenly. Then he introduced us to Jotto, standing at the far end from where we were standing.

Jotto is now one year and six months. His ordeal maybe behind him, but they say elephants have a great memory so its safe to say he hasn’t forgotten why he ended up here and he will not forget years after he has left the orphanage and taken back to the wild, to create a new family….something that takes well over six years.

If you are in Nairobi, maybe catching a flight later or whatever, this is a must visit. It will be a day well spent, with opportunity of up close with this lovely playful babies. Adopting or just donating to the foundation that is doing much more for this vulnerable ones. This place is also good for those who want to keep their minds off work, at least for one hour, doctors say………that can increase productivity.

Am not a doctor, am just a lover of nature, so my advice has no basis or reliability that my own meandering experience.

 

China-Africa Relations, Not a “Win-Win”.

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If you have been travelling around Africa, you must have seen what I have been seeing. Chinese people everywhere. They are taking flights all around Africa, taking refuge in big cities, small towns and villages. Yoon Jung Park at Howard University forwarded a very thoughtful article by Howard University grad Chika Ezeanya, reacting to the just-opened $200 million African Union headquarters building in Addis Ababa, a “gift” from the dragon. Her mixture of frustration and disgust at the symbolism of the African Union accepting the donation of this building was almost tangible and very nicely phrased.

But one thing about her article caught my eye: the statement that 90% of the labor on the building was Chinese. This might be the case for all the projects that Chinese people are doing all around Africa, a continent with the highest unemployment rate. China invests more in Africa than any other country, with Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Angola among the biggest recipients of Chinese funds. Infrastructure development, for example highways and railways, is the main area of business for the Chinese in Africa. They also invest in smaller enterprises and food outlets, according to the report.

China has been a disruptor of the world, from the United States which is now the biggest consumer of China products to now Africa. A while back, we resisted everything China, the quality of their products then was not good. We went for products from the US and EU, all went well but then most of American companies were shipped to China. Today, my favorite iphone is assembled in China. Globally, the attitude towards China is somewhat positive, according to a 2014 study by Pew Global. Across the 43 nations surveyed by Pew, a median of 49% expressed a favorable view of China, compared to 32% thinking of them unfavorably. However, China’s overall image in Europe and the U.S. was mostly negative. Only 35% of Americans had a positive view of China, whereas 55% were negative.

Today, the U.S. and China are competing fiercely over African business. I think the Chinese do everything they possibly can to become number one, they want to become the number one superpower. However, an increased Chinese influence over Africa may cause trouble in the future, and perhaps stifle the development of democracy. As we speak, many African countries are already heavey laden with the burden of debt from People’s republic of China. Young Chinese have taken jobs in Africa, own small business across Africa and our institutions want us to learn Chinese. “Is China the savior for developing nations, the only world power investing in their future — or is this the dawn of a new colonial era”? that is the question most people are asking.

In hitching itself to China’s rising star, Africa has developed a relationship in which aspiration is no longer the pipe-dream it once seemed. With Chinese investment offering significant promises for developing African nations, cooperation with China is proving to be a significant stepping stone on the road to development. However, with the negative long term social and environmental impact that this cooperation potentially threatens – regarding bauxite mining, gold mining, or any other venture – it would be wise of African governments to tread cautiously before committing to a course of action which might have entirely the opposite effect to that intended. China’s rise on the African continent might indeed provide an opportunity not to be missed, but denied the proper checks and balances it could prove less a win-win relationship.

As we look forward to the coming general elections, the government seeking re-election has ridden on the projects delivered by the Chinese people, the railway connecting Nairobi and Mombasa, 472 KM costing sh327 billion. The pros and cons of this projects are not addressed in equal measure, and so not now but in future is when we will start to reap the real fruits of Chinese relation with Africa. Time, will always tell.

 

 

Lost in peaceful Kilasiya Waterfalls in Moshi.

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My drive of two hours got me to Moshi, not sure what I was going to do, but I was glad I had made it. I had a few options to choose from, this day, I would be either in a dipping my body in a hot spring somewhere, I don’t know where. What I know is that Mufasa, who runs a tour and travel company says that is a good place for cleansing. He took this two ladies to wash from the springs and later they were driving their own cars and happily married, and everytime they see him, they express their gratitudes. For a fact I don’t want a car, I already own one, and i am happily married too, but if the spring would give me a clean wash, at least every man needs a wash everyday.

The other option was I would be in my Airbnb room, and play safe and not be bothered about what was happening behind the walls. Get lost in the internet world and visit the Ngorongoro conservancy from the comfort of my home, I mean temporary home. But wait a minute, Karin story was still fresh in my head, how she and her husband bought a toyota land cruiser in Capetown and she had to drive it herself to Arusha. First I say, she stole my dream, second…..what a brave woman, the few we have. She conquered the loneliness of the road from cape town to Arusha, camped in the wild, survived on cheap food and finally drove through the borders of Tanzania. I may not be that woman, but at least I can try.

So then I asked Pam the (young lady who cares for the house where i am staying and who supplies breakfast on the table every morning) where I should go for the day, go to Moshi she said, you will enjoy the waterfalls there. And the next minute I was on the bus to Moshi, the lady seated beside me on the window was headed to Dar Es Salaam. We exchanged a few words before she disappeared in her earphones….and looked the other side. I was feeling tired so I fell asleep…..just for a few minutes. Moments before we arrived I could see Mt Kilimanjaro, not very clear but just something. It was very cloudy that day. Then I was on the clean streets of Moshi, looking for a place to eat, I was hungry too. I googled, most of the places that showed up were high end, I needed local. Not the Italian chef or the French…..definitely not the French. My last encounter with someone with that title was along the source of River Nile, in Jinja. The police had to intervene.

To my rescue, a small restaurant with buffet offering a walk away from where the bus had dropped me. It was very local, with things I had not seen in my life…..kind of bizarre food channel. Before I could order, I wanted to know my next move, so with all my stupidity I asked the waiter about any attraction I can visit around Moshi. Many people who come here in Moshi, come to climb that mountain, he said……pointing on the direction of Mt Kilimanjaro. I stood up and moved to the serving are to pick my order and after my meal I had to worry about where next. I picked a few people on the streets to ask, and the old man knew what medicine I needed. With all the information from the old man, I set off……first taking a dala dala to Marangu. It was a loong way, the Dala dala was very full, with some people even standing….including women.

By the time we arrived in Marangu I had had enough of it, and I couldnt wait to get out of the whole thing. The clouds were pregnant and it was threatening to pour with the least of provocation. It had taken me five hours to be here so on to the point, I secured a cab to the waterfalls. The guy told me that there are some caves before the waterfalls which I would really love. Lets go to the waterfalls first, I insisted. It was a short drive, we arrived and started trekking to the office and after paying to enter the waterfalls. I was live on Facebook at that time, but the dipper I sunk the more I lost signal. Then it was not possible to be live, or to make a call. The wilderness had welcomed me, and I had accepted it with all my heart.

From a far I could hear the sound of Kilasiya Water Falls, and the sight of the water too, the surrounding was green and wet, filled with fresh air and some taste of herbal. I kept going down until i was resting on the foot of Kilimanjaro and behold the waterfalls smiling at me……from a small distance. I removed my shoes and walked towards her, overwhelmed with the wet surrounding I stood facing her and for the next 30 minutes I was lost in thoughts and in awe of what God had done here. I had completed a mission, and I was breathing very well.

So I started my trek back to civilization, it took all my energy. I was breathing heavy as I kept my balance. Looking back I would see the nice scenery disappearing so I kept going. I kept pushing, until I found myself on the benches beside the office. On my left was a gentleman quenching it all with a bottle of Kilimanjaro beers. For me, I needed tea, just hot black tea. Then I felt fresh, alive and back to Dala dala…….one that took me to Moshi, before I started my journey back to Arusha. I arrived back to the house at 9pm and Pam asked if I had managed to get to Moshi. I asked her how she new about the waterfalls. Thats where I was born and grew up she said. I wondered why I was knowing this too late.

But all the waterfalls was down the drain and another peaceful night was awaiting. I went to bed with great conviction, that I should come back, just like everyone else who has been here.

A chilly Joomla! Day in Arusha.

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Welcome to Arusha, the town so calm, so beautiful, so welcoming. You should come here, if you can afford it. Endless queues of tourist are arriving here in their numbers….you wonder why, but when you are here, everything makes sense, makes peace. Driving in Arusha I can see how a large, sprawling city with all of the contradictions that brings, it is, the best place to be. The traffic police standing on the street in their white uniform, very white my friend asked how they wash it, they keep it white, just like new.

On the one hand, Arusha offers a nice break from the rigours of life on the African road – it has excellent places to stay and eat and, for the most part, it is lush, green and enjoys a temperate climate throughout the year, thanks to its altitude (about 1300m) and location near the foot of Mt Meru which by the way, I can see from the comfort of my living room. I should brag, but I won’t. Resting on the foot of the hill, cool weather and a sight to behold. Waters flow freely from the hills, in many directions, if not all. You will not get enough of banana plantations and you will not miss them on your dinner table. You are in the land of it.

Starting point for many safaris and cultural tours, it’s a place where everything happens. Roasted free range chicken with roasted bananas and potatoes, from Kenny’s place…..right on the open street, to Hawaian pizza at George’s Tavern. Everything is great. And worth the fight.

Which brings us to Arusha’s alter ego. As the safari capital of northern Tanzania, Arusha is where you’re most likely to encounter touts offering safaris, souvenirs and all manner of deals, some genuine, many of them not. Their main haunts are the bus stations and along Boma Rd. What brings me to Arusha? That which has taken me everywhere, Joomla love. We travel, eat good food, meet friends and get lost in Joomla. A family of open software enthusiasts, techies, who bring people together, share ideas, share visions, and help run each other’s mission. I mean those guys……I am one of them.

Enjoying great conversation, maybe networking, a lot of that, sharing great food, made so amazing with much of the East African love. So I must say, my arrival, at 2pm was wonderful. The sun was up and there was a taste of life in everything, including the things not edible.

Then I fell asleep at midnight only to wake up 30 minutes late for breakfast…….to a heavy drizzling morning, not pouring, just heavy drizzling. Here, there is a difference. That meant I was one hour late for everything, including my presentation which was starting 9am. So when we pulled over at a gas station to buy fuel, we got a call, and the shame attacked me like a bitter woman. That kind of shame that will follow me all the way to when I arrive at JR Institute of Technology, and there I could see everyone sitting in humility waiting……….not for someone important but me, this guys who could not keep  time. So then, I pretended nothing was wrong and even that was more shameful, it was cold and I was struggling to keep me alive.

Then there was my introduction, and before I went further, I was interrupted, by the teacher. He urged me to keep it in Swahili…….my presentation. That my students are a little handicapped when it comes to English he said. What he did not understand is that even if you are really good in both languages, its difficult to make a presentation in Swahili when you did it in English. But I had to brave myself, picking all the words I could remember……because the word Joomla! itself is Swahili……Mradi wa Joomla! to mean my Joomla project. But then it all went well for all my two presentation.

While in the car with Gloria, after the event she mentioned to me, that the students were very happy and I asked her why she thinks so, she said that if  Tanzanians are happy, you can see it on their faces. I wouldn’t have known that. Back at our Airbnb Pamela the lady in charge of the house took us to the market to get some fish for our dinner project. At the table was also Karin, who is visiting here from China though she is originally German. She lives and works in China together with her husband and they are trying to start a business here in Arusha, she has been here many times.

She narrated to us how she drove from Cape Town, where they had bought their Toyota Landcruiser to Arusha, something I have always wanted to do. The car sits at the parking when she is not doing her safari’s and when I went to check it out, I admired the big wheels on it and the inside fitted with a refrigerator. Before we left Arusha, I had made good friends, and helped to create Joomla User Group Arusha, managing one of my desire for this trip. I have not yet gotten anybody willing to volunteer for Joomla! but am still hopeful.