I was too lazy to come up with something new, so I just took something out of the drafts folder and finished it off, enjoy......
This post is a kudos to one thing that Kenyans know how to do well...walk!
We also know that some Kenyans run well but let's not get derailed. Unless you were part of an upper middle class or rich family, the fact is that we all did quite a bit of mileage. It was walk to the kiosk/shopping centre, walk to the bus stop, walk to the gate, walk to the neighbours (depending on where you lived this could take quite sometime), walk to school, walk in town. Walk walk walk. We are indeed a walking nation.
This was brought to the fore during the Matatu strike over the Michuki rules. People used to walk from the City Centre to areas like Buru Buru, South C, Kangemi etc. If it was in Europe people wouldn't have made it, I'm not going to mention America because this is one nation where people love their cars and drive everywhere; other than some select cities up North.
I once remember my sister going home on vacation packing all her dainty shoes bought in America. Within one week of walking around town she had killed an expensive pair of shoes and decided to buy Bata shoes instead. Let's face it most of these shoes out here sold by athletes and entertainers are made to do everything but walking.
Look at that shoe? Good looking huh? Expensive too! Try walking round Nairobi cbd with it for two weeks and see how long it will keep its' look and form. Not too long if you ask me. Reminds me of shoes specially made for Kenyans like Safari boots, akalas and Bata Prefects. There was a pal of mine in primary school whose dad bought him a pair of Safari boots while his siblings were bought inferior brands. Almost a year passed and he had to watch jealously as his siblings were taken shopping time after time as their shoes wore out. He tired of his Safari boots and in desperation took a razor to them, it was only then he was bought new shoes. I wonder if the new Safari boots are half as good?
I also remember one neighbourhood we lived in where the matatu numbers were in triple figures and my parents decided they were not going to leave us a car. Let's just say leaving the house was like planning an expedition of sorts. You would have to leave the house one hour before you wanted to be at the bus stop because it would take you around 45 minutes to 1 hour to get there. Budget another 30 mins for one of those manyanga matatus to pass by and for you to be added to the mass of humanity in there. On finishing your errands it was the reverse. Get ready to be packed like a sardine in the matatu and then for your 45 min to 1 hour walk home. To burn time I used to buy something to eat during the walk and I would comfortably finish a pack of fries and a sausage (damn I miss farmer's choice), ironic thing is that I never put on any weight because the walk would nullify the potential calorie gain. Let's just say until we moved out, I usually only used to leave the house if there was a ride or if I had to take a matatu I would do one week's tasks in one day! Double irony was that the 'hood got minibus matatus a year or so after we moved out. Fate can be cruel huh?
I can't talk about walking without giving you all the Maasai story. During my teens there was this friend of mine who was chatting up this girl who lived on a farm in Ongata Rongai. He wanted to see her and got some simple directions and pulled me along to keep me company and run interference with his sister (a good wingman does these kind of things). So we took the number 125 matatu (correct me if I'm wrong) and got to walking. Anyone who lives in those areas knows that most of the time things are not close to each other. So we got to walking.
As we were walking we realised that the simple instructions that read go to the end of this road, turn right walk until you get to a certain landmark and then turn a right 2 houses to the left were the exception of what we thought. It seemed this girl lived near the bus stop! Woe unto us! As we walked it seeseemed that this road had no end so we asked a maasai moran nearby who was grazing his cows where the land mark was.
He told us,
"Ni hapa tu tembea kidogo na utafika. Unaona hiyo mti? Ni hapo."
As he pointed to a small tree in the horizon.
To be honest that tree looked real close to us too. We got to walking and it seemed like for every one hundred meters we walked, the tree would recede a hundred meters. To some point I began to feel like the Israelites when they accused Moses of taking them to the desert to die, at one point I almost wanted to choke the life out of my pal.
Anyway after turning my sweatshirt into an adhoc turban and braving the heat, we made it. I know at this point people are expecting me to say the girl wasn't home. Even though this was in the pre cell phone days, she kept the date. Sadly the girl's sister turned out to be a pain in the ass but as a trooper I took one for the team. Even so my pal didn't fare as well as he thought he would and we left (never to come back I happily add!)
But whenever I talk to a native of any up country area and they tell me, "Ni hapo tu!"
I take it with an extremely large slab of salt.
Don't forget to take your walk today and do share your walking tales!
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