Knowledge of the country, people and customs
Since I have visited Kenya seven years in a row then I can say with lots of authority to know very well the country, people and customs. First visit was the most complicated because I was burdened with number of prejudices and stereotypes which later on proved to be a mere illusion. In human nature there is that one defense mechanism that always forces us to speculate and guessing about what is unknown to us. Kenyans are very motley society, made up of 42 different domicile tribes and several ethnic groups of immigrants from the closer and further environment.
BEER CELEBRATING DEATH BY BEING TRAMPLED
On December 8, 1922 Kenya Breweries was founded by brothers George and Charles Hurst. They had previously worked as gold prospectors and farmers. One week later they brewed their first beer and bottled the first 10 cases by hand. They were delivered to the famous Stanley Hotel and their brewing business had begun. In 1923 George was killed on a hunting expedition by a male Tusked Elephant, which is indigenous to East Africa. Charles decided to name the beer they brewed ‘Tusker’ in honour of his brother.
Today the brewery is called East African Breweries and they sell over 700,000 hectolitres in Kenya alone. Tusker is still their biggest seller. They like to explain that Tucker is made form the finest local ingredients. This includes barley from the Savannah and the Maasai Mara, sugar from the Rift Valley and spring water from the Aberdare Mountains.
On the label of every bottle you will see the printed words “Bia Y Angu Nchi Yangu” which is Swahili for “My beer my country.” Incredibly 1 in 3 cans or bottles of beer sold in Kenya is a Tusker. In 2003 almost 6% of the Nairobi water supply was devoted to just brewing Tusker. It really is the beer of Kenya.
Today Tusker is brewed in 3 varieties:
Tusker (original) 4.2% ABV
Tusker Malt: 5.0% ABV
Tusker Lite: 4.0%
I find its ok, to a bit bland. It’s best serve cold, but is good with food.
So please raise your glass and celebrate the trampling of poor George.
“Afya”! (Cheers!)Related to:
- Beer Tasting
- Historical Travel
Carrying Stuff on the Head
All over Kenya (and a number of other countries too - and not just in Africa) you will find that people carry all manner of exceedingly large objects on their head.
Mostly, it is women who carry things this way, but once in a great while you might see men carry things this way.
Depending on the type of load, many of the more skilled women are able to do this without using their hands at all. Akward loads do require one hand be used to keep things in balance.
The fact that they are able to do this with water jugs, where the liquid obviously sloshes about and can throw the whole thing off balance, is a testament to the skill of those who carry things this way.
All of these photos were taken by other travelers, who gave me permission to use them, and the photo collection is noted in the photo caption.
Please note that you want to be very careful about taking this type of photo. Many people would much rather you didn't take their photo.
All through Kenya we see people at work . We see them carrying water from rivers that are often several miles away. Even young children help. We see them washing clothes in rivers whose waters are almost dried up.They work together in fields tilling land by hand, the young and the old together trying to carve an existence out of hard dry and unproductive soil. Hey make beautiful jewelelery from animal bones and hand carvings from wood in hopes of earning a little tourist dollars so desperately need.
These are some hardest working but poorest people I have ever met in all our travels. They are however quick to smile ,often stopping to wave at passing vehicles ,waving or saying "Jambo!" Once again my pre-conceived ideas are wrong and I feel so fortunate to have traveled here and get to know a little about Kenya and the wonderful people who so warmly welcomed us.Related to:
- Adventure Travel
The Pit (aka "Squattie Potty")
In many places, and of course not just in Africa, you will find that the local facilities are in fact just a hole in the floor. Lest you think that this is only confined to villages with no tourists, the fact is that the Hippo Pools at the very popular Masai Mara reserve have such toilets as well - though the photo here is of one near Oyugis.
There are a number of hazards here, including closing the door and stepping into the thing in the darkness. In many cases, there will be no toilet paper, but if there is you might find it stashed at the top of the wall divider. If you didn't bring your own and need to look for some, be sure to look for it before you squat down over the hole. Some people definitely have trouble with their aim in these, and you definitely want to look down before you step inside. In one case, there was enough solid waste around the hole that I simply decided to move on to the next stall rather than figure out how to avoid the mess in the dark.
In many cases, there is in fact one side of the toilet block for men and the other side for women. However, in many cases this isn't marked in any way. Somehow, people just seem to know what side belongs to what gender.
This is how the simple facts of life work in many parts of the world. Indeed, in some places in Africa you can find flush versions of the "squattie potty" as that is what most people are used to using.
With some practice, you will probably find that you can use these fairly well, but probably still take longer than someone who grew up using one. You don't want to rush, though, because a mistake can definitely be a bit unpleasant.
Bring a flashlight if your eyes don't adjust well to the dark - but make sure it has a string and tie it to your hand or clothes or wear it around your neck. The floors in these are almost never level (especially in the rural areas), and you wouldn't want your one source of light to roll into the "basement" level of one of these. (Note how all the liquid is collected in one corner due to the floor not being level!)
Also note how close the wall is to the hole. I'm not sure if this is done intentionally (some places put the hole in the middle, but it is more of a hazard that way, especially when pulling your pants back up) or if it was done by mistake. Having the wall this close has some advantages, as it gives you something to lean against if you are going to be here a while, and it also is somewhat less of a hazard in the darkness.
For obvious reasons, it is good to have a plastic bag to keep your shoes in when you pack up to go home. Also, the shoes that I used the vast majority of the time while I was in Kenya I left there with someone who needed them more than I did. I was trying to figure out how to clean them so they wouldn't smell so bad (I had to walk through some very smelly mud one day after a rain storm) and someone asked me for them. I was glad to give them to someone who needd them more than I did, and not have to worry about what to do with them any more!Related to:
- Adventure Travel
Miraa is a stimulant that is grown in Kenya in the Meru region. It is widely available all over the country but seems to be especially popular along the coast, possibly because the hot sticky evenings seem to lend itself to sitting down with some friends talking rubbish and chewing a big bunch of miraa.
Even though its a narcotic it is frowned upon by some but it is totally legal in Kenya as well as the UK. Don't try and take any over the border to
Tanzania as it is ileagal there.
The nice red twigs in the picture are the kind I would go for rather than the long ones (kangeta) in the second picture. there are loads of different local names for miraa as well as different names for different types of twig or leaf.
The very first thing I have noticed is the diversity of colours. Morover, I was in particularly impressed by the natural talent this women have in matching the colours together. Look at this pictures and see for yourself.
Most of the women wear long dresses without any stich on it. They just wrap it around their body. Must be very practicle to wear and simple to put it on.
And another, if not the most important fact, each tribe has it own dresscode, in particularly the colours.
I haven't seen not a single perambulator in whole of Kenya! It doesn't metter weather village or town, weather rich or poor but every single woman is carrying baby in her own arms or in a sort of tissue knapsack conveyed over shoulders. I suppose the baby is feeling much better and more secury having permanent contact with mothers body. Some of this mothers, especially those I've seen in the villages, look very young. I wonder weather this one on the first picture is more than fiftheen?
Kenyans are joyful and friendly people
No metter of hard and poor living conditions, Kenyans are very joyfull and friendly people. Can't tell you nothing about the rich people here because, although they exist, I haven't seen the single one. Most of the locals, I get acquainted to, belong to the ordinary people who are struggling to survive. And yet, all of them were optimistic, joyful and very friendly. If any of problem occur to them, they just say with wide smile on the face, "hakuna matata", what means no problem at all.
After visiting Kenya I've learned something, have to appreciate my living conditions much more than I did before.
Draging hand-cart, more or less overweight, must be extremely hard and suffering way of earning money for living. This guy, on the picture, is draging pretty small content of the water but I've seen carts fill to excess with the load rolling out on the streets and motorways. It is one of the particularness you will see in Kenya because human work is extremelly underestimated in this country.
Wooden souveniers everywhere
No metter if you find yoursel in the towns, villages or along the roads, you'll meet great number of the locals offering wooden souveniers. It seems like one of the most lucrative business here. There exist huge manufacture in the outskirts of Mombasa and most of the souveniers coming out from it. Although each of the piece is hand-made, most of these products look alike and you might have impression of copies.
The minor number of souveniers, coloured in a different way and without plastered lacquer all over, coming from home manufactures and authentic Maasai villages, are coloured in predominant red colour and look less sophisicated.
Everybody sell and buy here
Aproximatelly half of the population doesn't work and probably will never get a job but yet, everybody sell and buy something. Wherever you go around there are number of shops or stands along the roads offering virtualy everything. I was thought it is exclusevely Arabian habbit but they are just a babies comparing to Kenyans.
Second hand cloths
There are many road-stands with ready made garments but most of them offers second hand cloths. It is very popular in Kenya because great majority of the population cannot afford themselves to buy a new cloths. Besides, new cloths in a specialized shops is very expensive, too expensive for average sallary.
The construction of the hut is very simple and most of them have one room only. The hut of Akamba people is divided by poles in two chambers, one where parents sleep and the other for children. As far as I saw, only the Maasai hut consists of more rroms and small kitchen.
Each tribe (people) make their characteristic and recognizable type of the hut.
I was in particularly fascinated with Maasais. Besides visiting a couple of their villages, I get to known in person more than dozens of Maasais meeting them around. They are very simple characters, sincere and honest, and devoted to their friends.
Maasais are taller than average Kenyans and very proud people. They never begging around, like most of the other tribes, instead they sell beautiful hand made souveniers. The members of the same tribe live in the piece and harmony. It is stricktly definited what is men's and what is women's work inside of the community. Women place is in the home, taking care of the haus, children, coocking and she almost never live the village. Men is hunter, in the first place, than shepherd and his job is to provide food and money. I have noticed a very strong solidarity among those who live in the same community.
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