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!!!
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
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
Vigilante Justice.. in case you need it.
If you do have your bag snatched, you can always point and yell "Thief!" or " Janja!". This will result in a huge crowd chasing and (usually) apprehending the suspect. Be aware that the accused will be beaten half to death while you politely ask for your bag/purse/wallet. If you don't see a police officer where you are, then this is the faster yet obviously more drastic option.
You should never try and chase a thief on your own, as they may turn on you with a small knife. Better to use the police if they are around.
- Budget Travel
Call it the "cheek kiss"
When greeting a woman it is customary to do that cheek to cheek thing. Generally you would do it twice, but someone I know does it three times. So treat it like dancing and just follow their lead as best ya can.
THE MASAI GOURDSAnother...
THE MASAI GOURDS
Another typical masai item, this gourds are used by them to mix the milk with animal blood. This energetic drink is considered as a drink for strenght for the male warriors. You will find many more tribal items, as well as Natural History exhibitions at the National Museum, in Museum Road (9.30 to 18 daily). I thought of buying one at a souvenir shop, but they are not very useful at an 'occidental' house...
THE MASAI BLANKETSThis...
THE MASAI BLANKETS
This 'scottish' appareance blankets are very typicall from masai people. Although it seems rather strange to wear blanquets in the Equator, nights here can be cold and they are nomads after all... You'll find this blankets everywhere to buy as souvenirs.
Photographing the Masai
While it was once taboo to photograph the Masai, it has become another form of income for them. Expect to pay money to take a photo.
The Maasai are the southern-most Nilotic speakers and are linguistically most directly related to the Turkana and Kalenjin who live near Lake Turkana in west central Kenya. According to Maasai oral history and the archaeological record, they also originated near Lake Turkana. Maasai are pastoralist and have resisted the urging of the Tanzanian and Kenyan governments to adopt a more sedentary lifestyle. They have demanded grazing rights to many of the national parks in both countries and routinely ignore international boundaries as they move their great cattle herds across the open savanna with the changing of the seasons.
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
- Food and Dining
- Beer Tasting
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
Life is life
Just looking around a big city is an attraction itself. We learn more aboutt he place from just looking and studying our fellowmen. These fotos were taken from my hotel window at rush hour. it documents the everyday bustle of city life....like anywhere else but to the pace of the Kenyan rhythm.
- Book now for big savings!
- Hotels.com Outstanding choice of hotels all over the world at fantastic prices.
- Great room rates