Friday, 26 November 2010

My apprehension was justified. Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is not full of clarity with information about departures. I went to what I thought was the waiting area for Gate 14 and was there for an hour. I was sure I was in the right place because it was full of what I assumed were white South Africans. 20 minutes before departure, nothing much seemed to be happening. Thanks to my experience at Dallas in September, I asked someone wearing a uniform what to do. He pointed me to an exit from the lounge I was in, which was also a coffee shop, where a sign, invisible to me from where I had been sitting pointed to Gate 14. Fortunately it all happened in enough time to prevent panic and the remainder of the journey, to Nelspruit, just south-west of The Kruger National Park, was as uneventful as travel ever can be.
I am still reflecting on the Kenyan experience. I don’t really know enough about it to know which of the versions to take with me. The white Kenyans, who say that as long as black people run the country a combination of corruption and incompetence will prevent real development, or the black Kenyans at Starehe, full of optimism and hope for the future and pride in their country. The white people enjoy an immense quality of life. This is principally because staff are employed to clean, cook, wash, drive, protect and, with small children, to nanny. Rob Boyd-Moss has not washed an item of crockery, cutlery or clothing for 30 years. He has a large house, with attached cottage in Karen, the most exclusive location in the country. His children were privately educated in Kenya and then South Africa. He is a member of 2 golf clubs. He and Debs both drive 4x4 vehicles and holiday in ther Masai Mara or Watamu with the family. Debs owns 7 horses and employs the staff to feed, water and tack  them. This makes them sound fantastically wealthy. It isn’t the case. It is , quite simply, that the cost of living is such that these things are accessible to anyone at management level who is prepared to work hard.
The Kenyan people are deeply religious ( well, the womenfolk are, anyway ) and immensely cheerful as their default setting. These are huge qualities. I would love to see the economy growing even faster and for the persistent numbers below the poverty line to become a thing of the past. If only there was less risk of losing everything to a bent politician/businessman I would be investing because the resource base, much of which is untapped, is vast.
Anyhow,it has been a real privilege for me to spend so much time in such close proximity to this part of Africa. I shall be very interested to compare it to the south of the continent, where I am now, watching the sun set over the Crocodile River, beer in hand and with the hippo snorting in the water below.

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