What I miss about America while in Kenya: Believe it or not!
It is a great feeling to land back in the jamhuri. To look out the window as the plane approaches JKIA is cheering especially if one has been in the Diaspora for a long time. Getting out of the plane and entering into the “construction” site at the airport gives you a feeling that someone is trying to do something. That maybe one of these days, the airport will be a definition of “airport” as Webster defines it.
For us Kenyans, the idea of taking a cab to our destination in Kenya is out of the question. Maybe a few “Kenyawests” ignore the thrill of having brothers, or sisters, or close friends stand at arrivals and wave with joy as they see their loved ones appear. Of course the number of those who come to escort or receive people at the airport has reduced. Back when I left for the world out there, my whole family showed up! Every body! Those days are gone: good days though!
Driving from the airport to the city center has ‘greatly’ improved from my first experience in 2001. Back then Mombasa road was dark, dark, dark! Uhuru highway was so scary that nobody wanted to stop anywhere. It matters who is the president! Nowadays the road has been greatly improved and one can stop at Bellevue oilybia to buy milk or water, bread, or my favorite, house of manji digestive biscuit! The lanes have been improved and if your plane arrives after 9pm the traffic is minimal and driving in and out of the city center on the way to wherever is smooth and un-event full.
Those who live towards Thika road can only imagine how miserable it used to be. The bypasses have eased the drive away from the city. The only problem is that those who laid it out forgot a very important scientific note: you do not take five lanes from the suburbs and make them into three lanes in town: that is absurdity! Thika road merges into the city from 4 lanes to three lanes! Daaa!
Of course every body that has money is constructing high rises. The problem is, the county government has no rules requiring that any new construction include a budget by the owner on the access roads, merging roads, water, sewage, and all utilities. The village of Lincolnshire in Illinois demanded those who added population to their town come up with ways to decongest, supply water, improve schools, sewage, police, fire and all utilities! When I worked there, they added to the constructor’s bill their expenses for every new person moving in: to serve them better!
The best feeling though after arriving in the Jamhuri is arriving in the village! The smell of nature and the songs of the birds in the morning are paradisium! Who can compare an alarm with the sound of Jogoo whose cage is next to the window! Priceless!
After staying awhile in Jamhuri, many friends of mine tell me they miss the western order and near perfect definition of the terms road, street lights, law and order, and for those who live in the United States of Amazement, the privilege of taking a hot shower at a turn of a knob!
For me, given my desire for simple pleasures, when I arrive back to Florida’s wonderful Orlando International Airport, I drive on the smooth highway heading east. Pass my house to the town on the beach. There I go straight to Macdonald. I get myself a quarter pounder with cheese with two apple pies. Then I head to the dunkin donuts and get myself a medium coffee, four creams and four sugars. When they lift the spoon to stir I tell them, “No, no, no, shaken not stirred.” I sit with the old military retirees and listen to them yap while I enjoy a piece of what is good about America!
Teddy Njoroge Kamau (PhD) HTBluff Associates, an EMG Consortium # HTBluff. Diaspora Messenger Columnist