An Evening Walk in Langata, Kenya
YardEdge is happy to welcome a guest post by Sonita Morin Abrahams, a Jamaican who’s now on holiday in Kenya.
As I get ready to set out on my afternoon walk, I pass Natasha’s old gear shift Toyota Jeep named Piccolo, a variety of flowers and shrubs (similar to many we have at home) and unlock the huge padlock securing their gate….and I’m on my way. The temperature at this time is wonderful as it’s crisp and cool in the mornings and evenings, but hot during the day. Kenya is about 6000 feet high so the air is fresh and dry…reminds me of being in the Blue Mountains. The road that my daughter, husband and new grandson live on is narrow and the vehicles go by pretty fast, so I stick to the wide dirt side walk. The properties around here are on 5 acre plots; there are no town houses or apartments, but some properties may have two or three homes scattered among the trees on the land.
As I continue to walk I notice many similarities between this residential area of Kenya and Kingston’s upscale neighbourhoods. The homes here are set back on the land and all have locked gates. Some also have separate dwellings for their staff and their families. When a car pulls up, they blow their horn and an “Askari” (guard) opens the gate for them. As I venture briefly on to the main road, some crazy “Matatus” (mini vans) and the occasional “City Hoppas” (big yellow buses) wiz pass me with many of them unfortunately giving off stifling black smoke, forcing me to cover my face and pick up the pace…sounds familiar?
This afternoon I decide to be brave and venture down an avenue I haven’t been on before. I enter into a picturesque, quiet residential area with undulating hills and valleys with beautiful purple, red and orange bougainvillea, flowers like lilies and geraniums growing wild on the side walks in rich clay soil, and beautiful jacaranda trees with their lovely lavender blooms. I notice also that I am the only fair-skinned female walking on the road, everyone else are Africans going home from work. I greet them with “jambo” (hello in Swahili) and always get a smile and a similar greeting. I notice also that many of them have a similar look – big round faces with large eyes, perhaps they are from the same tribe (the prevalent tribe being kikuyu in this area) and yes, they eye me curiously at first. Yesterday I also took a different route home and passed by road-side stalls selling fruits, vegetables and articles of clothing called “Matumba” -which is very popular here in Kenya where vendors sell either good second-hand clothes or brand-name rejects at ridiculously low prices on the road-side or in markets. As I made my way back home I‘m met at the gate by the night Askari who works for Natasha and family. He gives me a big smile and responds to my greeting with “asana santi” and “karibu” (thanks you and welcome in Swahili).
But back to today’s walk…. I walk for about 40 minutes and begin to get a little anxious because the truth is…I do not know where I am! I look at the time and it’s 6.30 pm. I continue for another 10 minutes and although it’s a really beautiful neighbourhood, unfortunately I believe I’m really lost! I give in and use the cell phone that Natasha has insisted I take with me on my walks, and call my son-in-law who has just arrived home. I admit that I have no idea where I am, he has a good laugh and sets off to look for me. I keep walking, confident that he will find me and of course he does. We return home and my daughter shakes her head and wonders how come her mother has absolutely no sense of direction! I give silent thanks for my safe arrival home and go on to complete my exercise programme with my sun salutations on their lovely patio overlooking a big back yard with lots of birds. Finally dinner time approaches and I get ready to enjoy my son-in-law’s wonderful culinary skills!!!
November 4th 2008
Sonita Morin Abrahams, Executive Director of RISE Life Management Services and Director/Owner of Afya Yoga and Pilates Studio.
I consider myself fortunate to have been led to two careers that are not only very satisfying but also beneficial to the population being served. At RISE (acronym for “Reaching Individuals through Skills & Education”), we provide remedial education, life and vocational skills to thousands of under privileged youth. We also provide counseling for family members and treatment for those individuals suffering from addictive disorders (www.risejamiaca.org).
At Afya, we provide yoga, pilates and body sculpt in a beautiful and peaceful environment for those who want to keep healthy but who also appreciate the importance of doing so in a relaxing and supportive atmosphere. (www.afyajamaica.com).
I am also very fortunate to be a proud mother and grandmother of two beautiful grandsons – Noah Anthony Abrahams and Liam Anthony Frost!