Getting the Run Around

Trip Start Jan 10, 2006
Trip End Jun 02, 2006

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Flag of Kenya  ,
Sunday, May 21, 2006

I spent three days in Kilifi, mostly trying to keep cool and hydrated. The sun is indescribably brutal on the Kenyan coast.

I called down to Kwetu to see if things were in order for the workshop. I had emailed at least three times from Ethiopia, but Constance, the coordinator for the course, had stopped communicating. When I finally got her on the phone, she said to show up on Saturday. I asked how many participants were signed up, and she told me I'd find out when I got there.

So, I got there on Saturday in the middle of a Kwetu board meeting. It turned out to be an emergency meeting to discuss the future of Kwetu and Contance's role there. She was fired up, too, throwing a fit and crying in the meeting. Apparently, she's been having some problems at home and with the organization. The course had not been advertised or coordinated at all. She was to take leave for the next week. I briefly discussed with the founder of Kwetu, Ulrike, and Constance's assistant, Athman, the possibilities of running a shorter workshop with at most 8 participants. I decided to cancel it all together when Margaret's neighbor, Shani, found me a place to stay with her sister, Asma, in Mombasa.

I had made contact with sister Tibebwa in Mombasa, who told me about a reggae dance happening that night. I set out for Likoni Island, on the south side of Mombasa. It worked out nicely that my bed was a few hundred meters from the dance. I met Asma on the Likoni side of the ferry, after a sweat-dripping trod including three Mombasa matatus. (I regret not getting any photos of the Mombasa matatus. They are possibly the most decorated in all of Afrika. Each one has a theme advertised on the outside with flashy decal stickers. Usually the theme is a cheesy song title, some evangelical proclamation, or a particular musician, but some are pretty smart. Almost all of them have sound systems worth as much as the van itself. Many add ground effects and blacklights and neon... they go off!) Just as Shani said, Asma would take good care of me.

In fact, after cooking me a most ital supper, she and her friend, Jane, escorted me to the dance. She also told me not to walk home for fear of thugs. I calmly explained that I hear that everywhere I go. I also told her that if it is Jah's plan for me to get brutalized then it will be so, but I feel that my karma is in order. Likoni doesn't seem like a dangerous place anyway.

So, I went to the dance, and it was great. Sister Tibebwa and sister Woletti were there skanking hard all the way from Ethiopia. I met some other d.j.'s and told them what I knew about Shashamane. Around 10 or 11, Asma and Jane showed up to make sure I got home safe. I told them they'd be in the dance for a while to see me home. We ended up skanking until 3. Asma walked home with me. She was scared to death. Maybe it isn't safe, but "though I walk through the valley of the shadow.... Jah is my light and my salvation. Of whom shall I be ...?" You know how it goes.

The rest of my time in Likoni was nice with lots of ital fruits and fried fish. There was even fried shrimp at the ferry for 20 shillings per handfull. I went to the Kenyan Airways office to move my flight to Nairobi sooner, which they did for free. I was anticipating going to Meru to visit Margaret's home, where she wants to set up a school of sustainable agriculture and nutrition, as well as a guesthouse for visitors.
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