“Kwaheri” means “Goodbye” in Swahili
It was everyone’s last Kenya in Kenya, except for me; my flight was the following morning. I had arranged to stay with my friend Mark, who resided in Thigiri with his family, for my last night in Kenya before taking a morning flight to London.
The group checked out of the apartment around noon, and we headed to the Diamond Plaza for lunch and to use the internet. There was nothing planned on the schedule for our last day as our guides were busy, and thus we figured we would spend most of the time being herded around shopping malls. Luckily, Mark showed up to pick me up at the Plaza and I headed out with him for a drive around Nairobi. We first went to his office so he could finish up some last minute errands work, and then drove over to his house in Thigiri to drop off my luggage.
We passed through several security gates before we hit the ultimate security guards: Mark’s two big black dogs. Mark warned me one of them could be a bit wild at times, but I assured him I love dogs as long as they don’t bite me.
Ironically, I got bit twice.
I went to pet one of the dogs who appeared calm as he trotted alongside me, and then was taken a back when he snapped at my face. I ended up with a slight bump on my forehead where his teeth hit my face. As I continued walking towards Mark’s house, the dog continued to jump up and bit my left arm. It was just a little pressure and no puncturing of skin, but I had a faint purple bruise the next morning. I really was not traumatized or in any pain, but to this day, I still enjoy constantly reminding Mark of when his favorite dog in the whole world attacked me.
We later meet up the rest of the group at the Klub House to watch the Manchester United game over a few final rounds of Tuskers. Natalya and Roza then departed for Ethiopia, where they were going to spend two weeks. I was too broke by then to continue the African journey with them, so I was set to return home (although I did manage to extend my layover in London by a week… hah).
Mark and I headed back to his house, and he made sure his dogs were locked outside before I left the car. I greeted Mark’s parents, whom I had met briefly at college graduation. We all sat down for a traditional Kenyan dinner of roast lamb and goat meat, peas, spinach/kale, minced meat, and ugali, a porridge made from maize flour. For dessert, we had fruit and Kenyan black tea with milk, sugar, and ginger. It was the best meal I had in all of Kenya!
The conversation at the dinner table was also amazing, I got a lesson in Kenya’s history and politics! I asked Mark’s father about his Kikuyu ancestry, and he explained that the tribe had predominately modernized, unlike the Maasai who have retained their way of life. In pre-colonial times, the Kikuyu tribes lived in the highlands, which typically contained the best pastures and fertile areas. After the white colonists settled in Kenya, most of the Kikuyus were displaced from their homelands. When Kenya was granted independence in 1963, the first Prime Minister Jomo Kenyatta redistributed Rift Valley lands to his Kikuyu people, albeit at the cost of displacing other tribes. This was the source of much of the corruption and tribal conflict at beginning of Kenya’s independent era.
We also talked about the 2007 post-election violence, and how the media portrayed Kenya very negatively during the crisis. Mark was in Canada with friends at the time, and he saw the news and called his parents in a panic to ask if they were okay. His parents replied, “Oh yes, we went golfing today and then went to to church…” Mark replied: “What are you talking about?? The entire country is burning!!”
Mark’s family joked a bit about it but admitted the violence should not be downplayed as it was brutal and many people died as a result. However, the violence occurred in very isolated pockets, and if one were smart, one would avoid such areas. Mark’s parents were both very optimistic about the future of Kenya, and believed corruption will be eliminated from politics.
After dinner, Mark and I head out to meet some of his friends from high school at Mercury Lounge in the Westlands. I was extremely sleepy from the wine and delicious food at dinner, so we only stayed for a little bit.
The next morning, Mark drove me to the airport for my flight to London and I said “Kwaheri!” to Kenya. It was an incredibly epic trip to Africa and I hope I will return again!