So some of my friends are wondering what I am doing in Western Kenya – Kakamega to be exact (where is that? I see a few going on google maps). I would love to say the main reason I came here was to finally have a chance of ‘sterring’ in Western but no. Until now I have never been much of a Western fan. I come here at the invitation of a young friend of mine, Boniface, founder of the Witaba Foundation (http://www.witabafoundation.org ). Unable to find a job in Nairobi after graduation, Boniface came back home to Kach as it is nicknamed. While here with a degree in IT gathering dust, he decided to find funding to start a project to train the youth in IT. Patiently, he wrote proposals and submitted over a 1000 but only two organisations responded positively and the rest, as they say is history. Now Witaba Foundation has branched into other youth initiatives like Education (of which I am here for with particular emphasis on literacy) and Sport. But, bless the Witabas, this blog is not about them, it give a little background for the writings following that I call, The Kach Diaries. I am a bit of a cheat so they are written with the benefit of hindsight as my observations are from a week old.
Take a journey with me and if you have never been to Western Kenya, here’s a chance to familiarise yourself with this land called Kakamega.
DAY 1 – Sunday
I arrive in Kakamega on fly540. I must admit to being pretty impressed that the plane lands here. When I was researching Kakamega it felt a bit of a back water town and I thought I would be landing in Kisumu 45 minutes away and coming here by road. As the plane goes towards the landing strip, I spot some cattle grazing not too far away from where the plane is touching down oblivious to the drone of the plane – they are obviously used to this. We get off the plane as others board and then I spot my host with his boyish smile. he is holding what turns out to be Kach’s equivalent of a lei – one of those shiny silver decorations that some of us have at one time or another put on Xmas trees. Photos and a lei right on landing. I am bit embarrassed with all the attention – I feel like a a fraud rock star but my fellow passengers act like its the most ordinary thing. We get to my home for the next week, Golf Hotel Kakamega. While checking in, I overhear conversation that Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga was here the day before – dammit. Trust me to miss him, I should have liked to buy him a drink and ask him a question or two American diplomat-style – I could see me being one of the few people with a byline at Wikileaks. So anyway, turns out the Golf is where all the politicians who are planning something in these parts meet up. Then whatever is decided is sealed at the Members Club next door. I leave my luggage in the room, go down for breakfast, return upstairs and sleep. I’d like to claim its jetlag but the flight from Johannesburg to Nairobi and then the extra hour plus to Kakamega does not warrant the claim. What it really is is that I have been busy chasing deadlines in Johannesburg because I knew I would do little other work while here.
As my head hits the pillow, I wonder what Day Two will bring.