DADDAB, BUSINESS AND THE DONKEY

I recently went to shoot a docu at the Daddab refugee camp in north eastern Kenya. started some twenty years ago, the camp has now turned into a city of sought’s.

but it is not the size or status of the camp that caught my eye but rather the it was the side shows that made for an interesting tell tale.

there are three camps at daddab.. the population now stands at 525,000 that is of yesterday’s count. that number is most likely to increase whether were are at war with al shabab and ze border has been closed.

in this camps life goes on as if there is nothing amiss or any civil strife just 80 miles due east. anyway you have got your well laid streets in the camp with house gates….yes gates to the house since you do not want un welcomed persons to just waltz right in.

you see since the camp was established now twenty years old a boy or gal born then would have attained that age that allows for anything…and in this camp these good people do what is expected of life.

so while checking my camera kit I was invited to a bachelor party in hagadera… the groom had organised a lavish party that had the trappings on Nairobi and it was all going well untill one of the guests were had been overcome by the bleating of a sheep that he decided that only one could make noise.

so the good fellow run after the little sheep until the sheep felt tired and stopped. pitty the guy had not noticed that the sheep had stopped running or being chased.

and as that was going on I was happy to see an old acquaintance that happened to have met in while coming to daddab.

this man had walked for 80 plus mile towards garisa town looking for his donkey. his search had started two days earlier. he had reached his destination about four hours before we met and was now going back 80 plus miles to daddab and for him every thing had been dependannt on his noble donkey….
since leaving daddab he had shut down his shop and locals had been with out the services of grocery(s)…..didn’t know to put that line.

anyway the donkey had wondered into the daddab police station and the guy had done 160 miles

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bag with no bang

Over the last few months I have been in and out of Kenya several times and I must say …. Kenyans have a pretty cool way of reaching handas in Kenya and marakan in Ethiopia.

So over the next couple of posts I will share my surprise visits to the high echelons of power to the sublime and also not fancy street corners where dollars are exchanged at buyer’s say where fake means actually feasible and where original costs the right connections.

so brace yourself for what i have been through in the most entertaining way (i was entertained by it) hope you do.

GRASSHOPPERS IN UGANDA

What a weekend it was…. First it was rather peaceful as the adversaries were all kept 5 minutes apart in Nairobi as their lieutenants back home in Uganda were re- recuperating.

Recuperating is a good well rounded name that is commonly being used in good old Uganda. So what happens when you have to recuperate in Uganda?

It involves a lot of insects, beer, plantains and lots of noise.

NSENENE is a nice tasty dish whose main dish is the grasshopper. Every night in the darkness of Africa, entrepreneurs in Uganda light up their roofs (it helps when the roof is flat) with spot lights turning their home into stadium-like structures.
The first time I say them I thought,, hmm here is a nice place to have a drink only to realise that the lights are used to attract and trap the grasshoppers.
As the insects follow the light, smoke is released and knocks down them crawlers into barrels. Tis in the morning that the entrepreneurs will come for their harvest.

The nsenene is either sautéed or deep fried to be like crackers. When sautéed the hoppers have some onions on them that give that tingly taste. The deep friend crackers type goes down with beer and is a good party thingy.
A handful of this nsenene will cost you about 1500 to 2000 Uganda shillings which is about 300 bob Kenya shillings. So you will be finding most guys seated somewhere chewing on them while listening to music, soccer commentaries and other things.

It is after chew this nsenene at around 10pm that the beer starts flowing down faster than Usain Bolt. Our Uganda relatives do drink faster and a lot and when it gets out of their control some just sleep where they find the most comfort.
On this weekend at my local kafunda(local pub) the beer was rudely interrupted by the noise of a neighbour kafunda….

Curious as always my Uganda relatives ran to check on the noise.
A group of guys had been arguing over who will take the bar maid. The argument was abruptly ended when one of the men decided to end the fight. He took a long stick and smacked the barmaid sending her crushing to the ground. She was out for 30 minutes as I came to know later.

The guy who hit the lady ran away from the scene, the other guys chased after him, the witnesses ran away in the other direction and I was left alone in the kafunda. When I about to leave 45 minutes later, the barmaid came for her bill, she said ‘the nsenene was on the house’

By the way nsenene is a big business here. very big. ask the car dealers in kampala they can atest to that.

WANJIII AM IN UGANDA

The pearl of Africa is a beautiful place to be in, that’s if you do take public transport to work because the authorities in this country seem not happy with the notion that exercise is indeed good for well being and that reflects well on the taxes that the taxman collects.

You see this idea of eating breakfast then taking a bus to work then an elevator to you office floor then calling Becky to bring over the burger and fries then taking the elevator down to the next floor to give meet your boss then take the elevator a floor up then sit on moving chairs then swing to the printer then to the walk to the elevator when it’s time for home then drop yourself down to the ground floor then get into the taxi then get home sit in front the television.
That adds up to a very unhealthy human being which is very bad for the economy as whole.

And if you are asking about why am ranting about this then let me illustrate to you how a day in Uganda is like together with all that niceties.

Early morning is breakfast and unlike what I have been used to in Kenya, bread and coffee well in this blessed country there is something called KATOGO. Katogo means a mixure and its meant to be a small meal consisting of banana stew, Irish potatoes, rise, some meat (beef) and ground nut source all these taken with tea, coffee or juice… and you thought cereal and an egg completes your breakfast……keep walking I say again.
And with all this energy in your system you would probably say let me walk to work since it’s not more than 1 km. Well no no no since if you have a Uganda brother, they will suggest a boda boda (motorcycle taxi) since the office is to far very far. ….I am still try to understand how my Uganda brethren understand the word distance. Surely we did have the same colonisers and English must be the same. Anyway at 10 am some fellows will always go for tea break not ze Kenyans.
Lunch time is also another ceremony of foods with the main dish either being cooked in ground nut source or plain. When they see someone eating the main dish source without any sniff of groundnut then you must be alien. And dinner is the same.

So with so much in the system I would have thought the walk to work thing may have help the government in shedding some of the overweight in the Uganda people but then what do I know about politics.

ONE PARTICULAR FRIDAY

Every Friday, both the living and the dead descend onto Nairobi paved roads creating traffic jams from 6.30am to 8pm. If you’re under belly is weak, then Nairobi on Friday isn’t the place for you. But then so do most Nairobians also agree to.

While Nairobians make plans to leave the city come any weekend (dependant on the availability of money) the rest of the east African peoples seem to be trooping into nai or enroot via Nairobi.

So what happens to the majority who have no plans no money and with many friends who have no money as well? Here is a taste of the weekend.

Three friends all married with young families. Known to many as Tom Dick and Harry, they are always together and light up Nairobi in ways that leave little to imagination.

One particular Friday

Tom called his side kicks to inquire what was on agenda…. Harry was very calm as always and said due to IMF (wife) the atm had been confiscated. But it was Dick who brought a long pause from the two.

He said that the wife thinks he is a witch….. cut the story short. Dick as he thought had the habit of putting a small bucket under his bed that he would use to pee into after a long night out of boozing. Dick couldn’t fathom the idea of getting out of bed in the middle of the night and dash to the toilet. So the best was to place the bucket and as wifey was in lala land he would whiz into the stop gap.

Well he had left the bucket under the bed for over three weeks and forgot about it till the wife decided to do some spring cleaning. Well you can imagine what the wife said…. so Dick thought it would be ill advised if he went out this Friday. What Dick eventually found out was that his is not such a unique story. Harry was using plastic bottles and it nearly turned disastrous when his hyper 3 year old decided t o have a sip of the ‘apple juice’. HR2 as the boy is known tasted it and didn’t like it and handed it to his mother who unfortunately took a big swig of the stuff.

After spitting it out she found several bottle of the ‘special apple cider’ under her bed and she let it out. According to un- substantiated reports from Harry there were about 12 one litre full bottles found under the bed. But how do this three get to this end.

The rule they abide with is that if you have to communicate you never TEXT but you must call. And when you get a call a plan is in the works. After a lot of soul searching on their perceived witchcraft, the decided that the best way to remove this unfortunate ideas and thoughts was to embark on a long night of emancipation.

For most nairobians, the best place to be on a Friday evening is either on kimathi street or the up market westlands shopping centre of Nairobi. In both these places there is a drinkery every second shop. As is the ‘rule’ in Kenya (not written in any law) apart from church with names like ‘the helicopter of god church’ one would be asking for the ‘taxi of god church’. Anyway this digression notwithstanding, Tom Dick and Harry excursions usually take them to the downtown area of Nairobi. Many people have always equated this area with the low lives of the city and as such its reputation is said to be that of wild wide west.

However things have changed, due to its high presence of security officers the area is relatively safe. And a plus, everything is this area is very cheap and of very good quality.

Here the three will part take sessions of Khat and feelings of grandiose will engulf them in just 20 odd minutes…. this continues