Walk past any group of children in many parts of Kenya as a mzungu and you will be greeted with this amalgam of three words. It is often surprising how clear the English is from such young children, but then it is a very well practised saying. As is the one which usually comes next “give me somesing”, or “give me sweets” or “give me money”, or “I am very hangry” (I can relate) or “give me your bag” or “give me your shoes, my shoes are very bad”. Sometimes all of the above, constantly, from about six children who follow you the half mile walk from the main road to the Bakehouse. Sometimes people greet you with a beautiful agenda-less smile, but not very often. This begging can be heart wrenching, amusing, and it can also be incredibly annoying. I will never forget the young woman’s face who asked for some money for milk for her baby as the car stopped in traffic in Nairobi, and the “please help us” as we pulled away. It is sad, but I have adopted a no-to-everyone policy, otherwise you would have nothing left. Sometimes this policy can be broken, and that was one of those moments when I wish I had.
For some kids it has become a game to see what they can get out of people, others really are starving, but not most of the ones I have met. You can be walking along thinking there is no-one for miles around and all of a sudden an “owahyou” will drift on the wind from a tree a quarter mile away and then a small hand waving in the distance. When walking through some of the poorer slum-like areas as you get closer to the lake in Nakuru, kids are not so used to white people and their assumed wealth, and the look they give you is not one of opportunism but of mesmerised fascination. Often a mother will sit next to you on the matatu, with a baby on her lap, and the baby will stare at you in amazement for what feels like minutes.
Sometimes, it seems the phenomenon of a mzungu walking past is the most exciting thing that has happened all day. These moments, when they want nothing more than a low-five and to run beside you shout, are stunning. I had another incident today (they are very common) where a guy stopped me on my way out of the local supermarket “please help me, my wife is in hospital, I need two K (2,000 Kenyan shillings / £15) for her”. I felt sad, I knew my answer before I gave it, I didn’t even remember that I didn’t have that much on me, so automatic my response has become, “Sorry”.
In other news, the Bakehouse is doing better. Sales are definitely rising particularly in light of a few events which have been held at the Rift Valley Motor Club which is just up the road. They hold go-kart races for kids there with the clientele being our target audience. In fact, at a ladies meeting there today, we sold thirty four large loaves in five minutes which has to be an Ujima Bakehouse record, but I could be wrong. More days like that and we could soon be demonstrating a sustainable business model. The cafe has had its fair share of delays in getting started. We will be working on getting permission from the local council ASAP and building will commence soon after. We are just ramping-up our fundraising efforts. E5 Bakehouse in Hackney will be holding some fundraising events as well as applying for grants and doing the usual request for donations here. E5 Bakehouse are also planning to send a baker or two to train our bakers in some new products, particularly pastries which is exciting. They have been waiting for me to get our pastry laminator fixed and buy a fridge. Both things should be easy but have been anything but. But I do declare that soon we will have such things and our esteemed friends from London will bring new and exciting techniques and therefore products to this rapidly growing city. We have also recruited a new member of staff who will help run the temporary coffee and sandwich bar which we will open while the proper cafe is being built, at the same location, and are advertising for a manager for the Bakehouse and Cafe to take over after I leave in October. I can finally say that things feel like they are tangibly progressing. But will it last?
Most of the picture below are from a sojourn to Diani. I highly recommend it. Beautiful white sandy beaches, palm trees, good food and accommodation. If you like it a bit wild stay at Stilts Backpackers. You sleep in elevated houses on stilts amongst a mini jungle of lianas, where sykes and colobus monkeys wake you up and you can feed the resident family of bush babies at 7pm every day. It is also very cheap. We spent most of our time hanging out at the obligatory Forty Thieves Bar where you can swim in the beautifully warm Indian Ocean, sip cocktails and eat decent food without getting hassled by hawkers. Also well worth a visit are Sails restaurant and Ali Barbours Cave restaurant for high-end dining. The latter is literally in a cave and is an amazing dining experience, serving excellent seafood in a charmingly antiquated style. Internal flights to Diani are relatively inexpensive and if the flight is delayed twice and you show them your cross face, you might even get a half price stay in a very nice hotel cottage.