A Kiss from a Giraffe

up, I was privileged to live in a couple of National Parks in Uganda. This was
so, because my dad was a Sr. member of staff at Uganda Wildlife Authority
(UWA). This meant that for every work transfer, we moved along with him as a
family.  We lived in some of the best
National parks in Uganda like the Murchsion falls, Queen Elizabeth, Rwenzori
National Park among others. We often went for game drives, Safaris and camping
and learnt a lot about flora and fauna with training to preserve and conserve nature
from a very young age.
remember my dad telling my siblings and I endless stories about the park and
how animals are beautiful ‘people’ and that if we didn’t interfere with the
ecosystem, we could live in peace and harmony with all creatures.  We were never allowed to tamper with any
creature by destroying its habitat or killing it for no reason. Over the years,
I have learnt to respect other creatures and appreciate their role and value in
the ecosystem. For me, nature has always been part of my life.
During  a recent  Thomson Reuters  media training on “Sustainable development in a
changing environment” which took place in Nairobi,While discussing the
Sustainable development Goals that are to replace the MDGS, I learnt that for
anything to be sustainable, it ought to meet the needs of the present
generation without compromising those of 
the future generation to meet their own needs. I am afraid that in the
wake of a changing Climate, characterized by deforestation, destruction of
wetlands, human settlement in national parks and poaching, a lot of the future
needs have been compromised.  And
something has to be done.
As I
plan to embark on an afforestation project in Uganda, I have decided to travel
around Kenya visiting parks and reserves to appreciate the fauna. My first
trips were to the David Shedirck Wildlife trust found within the Nairobi
National Park, dedicated to saving baby elephants and taking them back to the
wild once mature and the Giraffe Centre in Nairobi dedicated to Giraffes. In the video below, I was feeding a Giraffe as
I learnt more about its life and value within the ecosystem. What you observe is the famous “Giraffe Kiss” received by lucky and courageous visitors to the

also did visit the Orphaned Elephants and learnt about their sad stories and
how they ended up at the centre. It is mainly as a result of Ivory Poaching. A
human activity endangering African elephants for their tusks.  Read more here 

A baby Elephant being fed at the David Shedrick Wildlife Trust in Nairobi, Kenya.

can we move from being addicted to “breaking news” and focus more on
sustainable development issues in a changing climate?  Maybe we could start by being kissed by a giraffe
so that we can appreciate the value of our flora and fauna. Human beings need
to stop being greedy. Just because animals cannot speak they get hurt and when they do, humanity is endangered. This piece was not about being kissed by a Giraffe but rather about the dangers of compromising the needs of the future generations through our selfish acts of destroying flora and fauna. You can do something to change this. What are you going to do today to stop further destruction of our environment? Plant a tree? Report deforestation to save birds? stop reclamation of land for wrong reasons? save those flowers to bring the bees back? what action will you take today? The ball is in your court!

The Fake Facebook Comments

A story is told of a young man. Let’s
call him Otim. Otim was to travel to the US for the very fast time and, out of
excitement, updated his Facebook status. Sure, many of us do the same, only
that our Otim here updated his status two weeks ahead of his trip. The comments
were almost instant, with many congratulating him, some asking what he was
going to do in the US and others asked which state it was that he was going to.
Social media can be a downright silly place to be in so some of the comments
bordered on the indescribable. One stood out: Otim’s old school friend demanded
he checks on him while in the US. “Make sure you call me up when you get here,
looking forward to seeing you again after so many year,” the comment

Otim’s ‘generous’ friend who put this
outstanding comment gave him his home address in the US and email address in
case he needed any help. (By the way, the home address was one that existed).
He then offered to continue with the chat off Otim’s timeline to the
inbox.  Three days to his trip, as he went by doing some shopping in
downtown Kampala, Otim bumped into his “US friend” trying to run some errands.
Shocked at the sight of the guy who he thought was in the US, Otim tried to
convince himself that this could either be his brother or a look alike. But the
shock on his friend’s face at the sight of Otim gave him in faster than water
soaks cotton. Otim’s hilarious narration of the event inspired this blog post.
I came to work in Nairobi a
year-and-a-half ago from The Netherlands. Like Otim, I updated my Facebook
status about how excited I was (not that I was that excited because I had my
own crazy opinion of Nairobi). My excitement was from the fact that Nairobi is
a couple of hours away from home and that I could easily go to Uganda to see my
people and get back faster and cheaper than while I was in Europe. The reaction
to my update was huge, with many of my Kenyan friends and Ugandan friends
living in Kenya asking me to let them know when I arrived, if I needed any
help, suggesting that we could go ‘do’ coffee or lunch and inquiring about
where my next home in Nairobi would be. In Nairobi, just like Kampala, you are
judged based on where you live. Places like Westelands, Lavington, Upperhill et
cetera harbour a certain class of people, so do places like South C and 
Langata. Same as in Kampala. Kololo, Muyenga, Buziga etc are places for those
who have the money. I was so flattered but little did I know that one and half
years down the road, I would never meet these people. I came to Nairobi, saw
it, enjoyed it and found my way around it but I am yet to meet all those who
commented on my status update that day, and continue to occasionally comment on
many of my updates.

Now, I am not here to rant about my
Kenyan Facebook friends, but to share some of my interesting experiences in
Kenya, particularly Nairobi. My Facebook friends are too busy and I don’t blame
them. I am glad that at least we are friends on Facebook. That’s good enough.
Beautiful Nairobi City. Photo Credit:
Back in Uganda, I had heard all sorts
of stories about Nairobi. Scary stories. Talk about car jerks in broad day
light, shootings at residential gates as people drove in, jumping onto a
speeding matatu and having to know how to speak “Sheng” (a blend of Swahili and
English) in order to survive.
I don’t remember hearing anything
positive save for the nice building and good roads. Sure, most of these things
are not true. With all these at the back of my mind, I always prayed never to
find myself in Nairobi for a long-term stay, especially employment or
education. It’s ironical because these are the exact reasons I am now in
Kenya—to work and study. But food comes first at any one time.
Let’s whet the appetite.
The Food 
My first shock came with the food. I
love food and I love it in variety. Uganda has all the foods you can imagine.
Fresh and tasty. Kenya being a neighbour, I thought it wouldn’t be a problem
getting the food I loved. Wrong. So freaking cultural shock. On day one at
work, I went out for lunch with a couple of colleagues from my Unit. At the
eatery, they all made their orders on a reflection. “Ugali na Nyama”. I asked
the waiter to give me five minutes to think through the menu. These guys didn’t
have to look at the menu. As the waiter brought their orders, I was shocked to
see ‘Posho’—the very white one every girl in boarding school lived to
curse—with ‘Mchomo’ (roast meat) and collard greens, the very renowned ‘sukuma
wiki’ (apparently, it is aptly named so to mean ‘pushing the week’ as it is a
common dish that helped many peasant families live on back in the days).
At this point, everyone had a plate of
food in front of them except me. I had to place my order. I asked for chicken
and rice with soup. I repeated soup loudly incase he missed it. This amused my
colleague, with one sarcastically joking that, “She is a typical Ugandan; they
love soup! This statement would make lots of sense in the coming months.
To cut my food story short, I got to
learn more about Kenyan foods and fell in love with ‘Mukimo’ and the fish but
not with Ugali. I don’t even intend to. Since I am not a fun of red meat, I am
happy to continue enjoying the fish. I found out the foods grown and eaten in
different regions of Kenya and got rid of the stereotype about the “Ugali na
Nyama” being the only food known to and loved by Kenyans. A thing which many
Kenyans are yet get rid of, a similar stereotype about Matooke (mashed
plantains) being loved and eaten by all Ugandans. My Kenyas friends, not all
Ugandans eat matooke. Many of you travel and stop in Kampala and your opinion
of Uganda is informed by the experiences in Kampala where the predominant tribe
is Baganda. Yes, a muganda’s meal is incomplete without matooke, just like a
Musoga man has no meal without boiled sweet potatoes, and my Northern
connection people wouldn’t go without peanut. Uganda is a huge country. Oh, the
other thing: while yams, sweet potatoes, cassava form part of the main course
meal in Uganda, it is a different story in Kenyan—they are eaten for breakfast.
Yes Breakfast!
The Matatu (s)
Whenever I travel to a new country, I
enjoy trying out their public means of transport because it’s usually
affordable and it helps me have an idea of the realities among the citizens,
especially the common man from the chats, lamentation and jokes shared. It’s
exactly what I did in Nairobi. My command of Swahili is not so good but I can
communicate and engage in a simple discussion.  Well, for a Ugandan, the
thought of using these buses or commuter taxis in Nairobi is enough torture.
Many of my friends who have been to Nairobi and have attempted to use them
complain about the loud music that they play, the speed and the fact that the
conductors collect money as soon as the bus takes off. In Kenya, you’ve got to
pay your fare whether you will reach your destination or not. In Uganda, the
story is different. You stop the ‘taxi’  lazily with an attitude, get in as
slowly as you can and only pay when you are close to your destination.
The clincher with Kampala is that you
have the liberty to stop the taxi at any point on the road and yell at the
conductor and the driver if the vehicle stopped a few inches past where you
wanted to, regardless of whether the driver had a parking spot or no. I was
told that the people from Mombasa are the ones who board matatus like Ugandans.
I am yet to find out why and confirm this.
Now, this might sound ridiculous but I
prefer the Kenyan Matatus, save for the two occasions that I almost broke my
legs and specs while jumping off. The thing is, I thought that the matatu had
stopped, only for it to move as I was putting my first leg on the ground. It
was a gross experience but a learning one too. I am told that it’s necessary to
go through it to learn the hard way and prevent future falls that could be
But if you are the time consummate,
speed is everything with Kenyan matatus. They fill up so fast, the fare rarely
changes. In Uganda, a light drizzle will see the fare triple and commuters have
no business complaining. Kenyans also give a receipt when you pay. The best
part of it all is that they do not stop anywhere, anyhow to drop off or pick
passengers except at their designated bus stops. Now I like that kind of order.
I am an ardent fan of Kenya Bus Service (KBS) buses and occasionally those from
Westlands that play the coolest reggae music as they get into town. I do not
mind the Kenyan matatus at all because unlike in my country where you must know
“Luganda” to feel so comfortable in a taxi (Matatu), in Nairobi, you only have
to know the bus number to your destination and make sure you have money. You
don’t have to talk much. In Kenya, a taxi is an equivalent of “Special hire”.
The taxis in Uganda are what are known as Matatu in Kenya or Daladala in
The learning environment
I am enrolled at one of the
Universities in Nairobi and it’s extremely interesting to be a foreign student
in Kenya. When I mention that I am Ugandan, students smile and some whisper
Museveni. I wonder what I have got to do with Museveni besides him being my
president. But I realized that he has this weird popularity in Kenya. Many
Kenyans laugh at his accent when speaking Swahili, others at his jokes of
having his cows stolen by the pokot while others simply enjoy the jokes that
the media makes of him. The learning is quite interesting because students
identify me as the “Ugandan girl” and some ask if I personally know Anne
This school environment has taught me
how to differentiate Kenyans based on their tribes just by the way they speak.
Not so different from Uganda. For instance, some Luo have challenges with “sh”
and so they could say something like “fis” to means “fish”, some Kikuyu just
like the Baganda of Uganda use  ‘L’ and ‘R’ interchangeable. For instance,
saying “bring’ would instead become “bling” and the Kamba are as lavish with
the letter “M” as a Nigerian would be with their age that they fix it almost
every where ‘mboy’ for “moy”, ‘mbig’  for “big.” The some Luhya
have “ko” which people make fun of and would say “Niambieko” instead of
“Niambie” etc. I am amazed by the diversity and I respect their “normal”. I
appreciate these differences and yearn to learn as much as I can from these
people. School has made me realize the differences in speech among many
Africans and made it easy for me to identify a Kenyan’s way of speech and
connotation regardless of how polished their English may be. No wonder it’s
also easy for Kenyans to tell a Ugandan from the accent.  Of course, I
have also learnt that the word “imagine” can be placed anywhere in a sentence
depending on how sad or interesting a conversation is. It’s used to express
shock, excitement , anger, joy… name it.

The Tribal
Many of us only get to hear about Luos and Kikuyus as
if Kenya is only made up of those two tribes. Well, I will not get into the
nitty gritty of this, but will stick to the jokes that are made about them. The
luo take up the bigger chunk of this, because they are said to be a proud lot
of people. There is a funny joke that Luos do not drive Toyota Vitzs and that
if someone driving a vitz hooted while on the road and a luo was driving next
to them, The luo will lower their car window and say that this……. “people driving vitz are not supposed to hoot
because unlike other cars that get log books when purchased, a receipt is given
for a purchase of a vitz. So be patient and wait for the real cars to move, the follow in silence

Another silly joke is summarized in this picture below. About the Kikuyus, the
jokes revolve around money and how they take up any opportunity to make money
and that for one to prove that a Kikuyu is dead, you need to drop a coin on the
floor. And if the corpse doesn’t show any signs of movement, then the person is
indeed dead. Not funny but those are some of the jokes made to emphasise their
love for money. Nothing is taken so seriously among the Kenyans, these are
jokes that have found their was to high platforms manned by comedians like “ThechurchHill Show”.

Received via Whatsupp. If you know the source, please let me know so that I can give the credit.

My Cab guy
I could write about so many things other interesting
things in Nairobi, but I will stop at this one because it’s one of the most
interesting. I met this cab guy a few weeks after I settled into Nairobi. He
was one of those cabs you call out randomly and then take his mobile number and keep
calling him when you need to be dropped to places occasionally. This guy is the
most hilarious man I have met in Nairobi. I do not need to buy news papers to
know what’s going on in Nairobi. He will give me the latest updates with a
sizzling touché to them and even add more details using his own theories. He is
one of the most punctual cab guys I know and he keeps his word. I consult him
when I have to travel somewhere within Kenya and he advices on the safety and
expectations. He has recommended me to visit a couple of places and has taken
me to some of them. Each trip comes with new stories and so much laughter. He
has been in Nairobi for years and driven his taxi for years too, so he knows
the entire city like his palm. His advice is, never bully a Taxi man in Nairobi
or refuse to pay his fare and threaten him because when he takes you to police,
without listening to what transpired, the Taxi man will be favoured and you will be
fined heavily. The police are always on their side.  

Bottom line, this blog is to tell you never to get taken up or overly excited by comments that people make on your Facebook updates. Many write them
just for the sake of writing, very few are honest. If you have to travel, make
your own arrangements so that an invite from a friend is simply a bonus. You do
not want to get a shock of your life in a foreign country. I know all my
friends in Uganda would host me with Open arms :-). No doubt!! I thank you who
would and those with the desire to but wouldn’t for your generosity and
honesty. For now, I have so many Kenyan friends. I guess more than I really need. I am happy that I get to meet and talk to them often.