BEER CELEBRATING BEING TRAMPLED TO DEATH
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.
- Beer Tasting
Kenyans don't make big difference if monday or sunday, to most of them all days in a week look alike, except for friday. Friday or "furahi day" (in kswahili) is special day, it's time for total relax and blust. It doesn't matter if one is working class or jobless, rich or poor, CEO or assistant, furahi is a day when everybody must go out and get drunk.
Many locals call it Tusker day, after the most polupar drink, Kenyan beer which have very good quality......
Keep Nairobi clean - it works
I don't know weather this campaign started only this year but fact is, Nairobi looks to me much cleaner than I remembered it during my last year visit. Such a litter bins are disposed all over the city centre and the locals really care to keep Nairobi clean. In fact, it is much cleaner than some European cities I visited in last couple of years. Fact is, Nairobians love their town and are proud to be the part of it.
Thomas is my favourite sculpture in Nairobi, it is work of South African artist Claudette Schreuders, and representating Thomas a Maasai guy who used to be Claudette's guard during her two months stay at Nairobi. "He lives in the city but his heart is at home", that's the way Claudette saw Thomas. Those who know Maasais cannot agree more then that. Claudette creates carved and painted wooden figures of Africans. The sculpture stands at busy Aga Khan Walk.
War Memorial Statues could be seen at the Kenyatta Avenue, it is statue of three African soldiers standing next to each other. The monumennt is memorial to the Africans who fought and died in both WWI and WWII. The British colonial government did recruit Africans to partecipate in that wars, in particularly to Asian front.
The Peace Pole stands right at the entrance to the big open space where the gigantic statue of Jomo kenyatta could be seen. It is memory of the bomb blast victims, in both Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, 7th August 1998. The message on the pole says: "May peace prevail on earth".
Fitting tribute to Kenya's worldbeating athletes
When I travel, one of my very favourite things to do is to look at the advertising ... it tells you so much about the culture of a place and it way that it perceives itself and its priorities.
I love this advert in Nairobi (pictured in July 2011) for all sorts of reasons.
Firstly, I think that it communicates such a powerful message on the part of the advertiser (Standard and Chartered Bank). "When Kenyans taught the world to run, we were there" (accompanied by a photo that was probably taken in the late 60s or early 70s) establishes the company's credentials in terms of length of involvement in the Kenyan market. Secondly, many international companies are accused of being opportunistically exploitative and not being committed to sticking it out in developing world economies - especially during hard times - and a 40 year track record is pretty persuasive evidence that this isn't the case with SCB in Kenya.
Secondly, my earliest perceptions of Kenya as a country (as opposed to it just being part of Africa) were formed by its athletes. In my youth, I was a moderately successful middle distance runner, and legendary Kenyan athletes like Kip Keino (who I think might be the chap in the front) and particularly the endearingly banana-toothed Mike Boit were among my heroes.
It was only once I moved to the developing world myself that I fully realised the power that sport has to uplift both individuals and communities. Unlike other sports which often have high barriers to entry in terms of specialist equipment and training, all that was required for runners - particularly back in that era - was natural ability, stamina and a blistering turn of pace (with running shoes being optional). This first generation of great Kenyan middle distance athletes not only paved the way for their predecessors to achieve world domination, but also helped to consolidate a sense of national pride during the post-independence period: a vulnerable time when many countries struggle to establish their national identity.
For those who are interested in where these great athletes are now, Kip Keino (double Olympic gold medallist) retired to his farm in Western Kenya and now splits his time between running an orphanage and serving as the chairman of the Kenyan Olympic Committee
Mike Boit (a man whose career was sadly blighted by Kenya's boycott of the 1976 and 1980 Olympics, and thus was only able to strike gold at Commonwealth level) went on to gain a slew of teaching degrees in the USA - proof positive of the education opportunities that his athletic talent opened up for him. He later became a Professor of Exercise and Sports Science at Kenyatta University and between 1990 and 1997, he served as Kenya's Commissioner of Sport.
And, as ever, one for the seriously trivia(l) minded ... I was enchanted to discover that Mike Boit's nephew Philip was the first Kenyan ever to compete in the Winter Olympics (at cross country skiing of all things!)
P.S. And no, just in case you're wondering, I don't work for either SCB or their advertising agency!!!
Food in Kenya
The most popular food is beans and maize.
They usually boil it together in a mashed meal of beans, maize, kales and potatoes.
It comes out something sweet.
For the Massai …oh yes, here the most popular is their milk mixed with blood and honey. If you go to visit them you will surely be brought a bowl.
It happened to us, but we politely tried to avoid it. They kept insisting but it was no way that we could drink it with all those mosquitoes around.
The food here is mostly sweet, and they love the sweet potato and beans.
Vegies like broccoli, cauliflower courgettes are very popular.
In Kenya I have tasted the best pineapples ever!
Try them as they are really very cheap.
Kenyans are generally very friendly. They greet you with the word ‘jumbo’ and you reply with the same word back.
If you are in a group the greeting changes to ‘hamjambo’ and here the reply is ‘hatujambo’.
Because here in Kenya they have the Muslim influence women cover up bare arms and legs.
Light clothes are fine for the smartest social occasions.
Alcohol can be found and is available in the tourist areas near the coast.
I had some of my fellow travelers complain about this, and heard it from others too, so I figured I'd write here and set the record straight. According to my professor friend, many Kenyans drink their sodas, beer, and water at room temperature. It's just the way things are done. I'm not sure if it's due to the cost of refrigeration or what. And, while many restaurants and hotels have learned at least to ask customers whether they want it cold or not, some forget. So, if it is important to you, make sure while ordering you ask for your drinks cold, otherwise you'll be served room temperature beverages.
- Family Travel
- Beer Tasting
- Food and Dining
Dedan Kimathi Wachiuri
The Mau Mau revolution is one of the liberation of Kenya from the British. The Mau Mau war started early 1952 through the early 1960’s resulting in the independence of Kenya in 1963. Field Marshall Dedan Kimathi, the Mau Mau’s military commander was one of the main leaders of the Mau Mau and he is imortalised in statue in central Nairobi.
He was put on trial as a “terrorist leader” and sentenced Kimathi to death. On 18 February 1957 Dedan Kimathi was executed by lynching at the Kamiti Prison in Kenya. Kimathi is credited with the phrase “To die for one’s country is to live forever”.
You can see the statue on Kimathi Street. Its foundation stone was laid in December 11, 2006 and completed in 2007, 50 years after his death. It includes the quote 'it is better to die on our feet than live on our knees for fear of colonial rule' also created to Kimathi.
- Arts and Culture
Goats along the Road
There are grass median strips and roadside strips all over Nairobi. This is the case in most any city, of course.
The local residents have taken to grazing their animals along the roads in these large grass strips. This is understandable, and can be seen in many other countries.
What seems unusual to me is that here, in a fairly large urban area, the goats are simply allowed to run around on their own - without any apparent person looking after them.
Don't they disappear? Get stolen? Walk out into the busy street and get run over? Keep chasing after better grass, and eventually become lost?
I can't tell you how it all works or how the goats and their owners keep themselves sorted out. I can tell you that you will see them in many areas - except the core of downtown Nairobi.
This is just one of many interesting traffic features of driving in Nairobi, for those who have never experienced a city with this wide a variety of driving distractions.
As seen in the final photo (from the Kaster family collection), the goats find all sorts of castoffs to eat. Some of those discoveries don't bear thinking about.
- Road Trip
Virtually all cultures have fairly elaborate ceremonies established for marriage. Nairobi is no exception, though there are certainly elements of adjustments here that are not necessarily in keeping with what could be found in the rest of Kenya, or even the surrounding countryside around Nairobi.
People and vehicles arrive very decorated - just as they do in most cultures.
Generally, weddling last a long time, and there is a lot of waiting involved because usually people arrive quite a bit later than the scheduled start time.
Music? You bet there is music of all sorts. Sometimes traditional chanting with no instruments, and sometiems with modern accompanyment, but there is always music of some sort.
Visitor participation is definitely a part of the wedding ceremony, and you will certainly hear loud shoults of celebration from the people gathered to celebrate the union.
Photographers are drawn to weddlings like flies. In many cases these are not official photographers, but are there to sell their photos after the celebration is over. This is definitely a development of modern times and certainly has its origins in the arrival of Polariod cameras in the area. Sometimes it may seem that these people are annoying, as it seems a bit disruptive to have 10 or so photographers battling for position around a couple celebrating their wedding vows. However, this is Africa and not Europe or America. People view such things differently here.
I have been told that weddings must occur during daylight to be legal, which means that ceremonies may be cut short or altered if there are several weddings in the day in a church, and the first several run late.
- Arts and Culture
Rooting for Manchester United
For reasons best known to themselves, the people who live in Nairobi have a huge interest in Manchester United. Manchester United doesn't generally shop for players in Africa, though in 2008 they did pick up one from Angola.
Yet, it seems that anywhere you go, there are people wearing Manchester United t-shirts (including at a wedding!) and in some of the grocery stores you can find birthday, anniversary and wedding cakes decorated for Manchester United.
This first photo shows the cake rack in the Uchumi supermarket on Ngong Road, and indeed about half of the cakes here celebrate Manchester United in some fashion or other. Some other football teams are popular (Arsenal cakes are also on this cake rack, as you can see, and a few others are available as well). However, no team seems to have penetrated the Kenyan market quite as well as the Manchester United.
Naturally, you can see footballers in most any open flat (and sometimes not so flat!) field all over Kenya, including Nairobi! (see the rest of the photos!).
- Arts and Culture
Most of the Kenyans, those who have job in a big companies or government institutions, work six days in a week. Sunday is day off, time for the chuch in the mornings and family walkings in the parks after lunch time. Uhuru Park is the place where most of the locals like to spend their free time, either in walkings, attending mass in open or listening gospel songs performed by numerous groups around.
Global Museum is situated in a walking distance to Holiday Inn hotel where I stayed during my three days visit to Nairobi. It happened that I passed there only by chance and was attracted by its look, which is in a shape of bursting flower. It was about 8:00 AM and the musuem was still closed. My intention was to come back and visit it later in a day but honestly I forgot it.
Local working class cannot afford high flat-rents in the city area of Nairobi, just a simple room with bathroom costs around 6.000 ksh, which is more than most of them earn per month. Therefore, they live or in the outskirts of Nairobi or, if very poor, in Kibera. My friend Francis, who work as the security guy, pays one thousand shillings per month for two small rooms in Kibera. I visited his "apartment" which has no power, no running water and no bathroom inside the flat. Such a rent is almost one third of his wages.
Francis spend small money for the food, eating twice a day only and equaly small money for the second hands cloths, which is the only cloths he can afford. He never attended theatre in his life and never goes to the bars or clubs which are inside the city area of Nairobi. On the other hand, Francis is very polite with good manners and really nice guy. When I asked him is he happy with his life, Francis confirmed telling me this, many people cannot afford what I have and not in Kenya only. Francis never visited coastal part of Kenya, never saw the ocean and it is one of his dreams. I gave him money to makes that dream come true and he was extremely happy and gratefull.
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