I made a friend while lounging at the hotel pool, Samuel, who comes from Kenya and beams with helpful information for the interested tourist. Since I feel like I’m cheating or lazy to only hang out at my hotel when abroad, I used his knowledge to develop a safe plan to see the city. Good man…though he fell in line with so many passing East African men I’ve met and asked me about my marriage status, but he stood as representation of a city I feared but without the malicious intent. While reading at the pool early on the second day, he cheerfully began another conversation with me that casually went into detailing his evening in jail. Since I had seen Samuel the afternoon before, he had been picked up by the Kenyan police and held in a cell, jammed in like a tin fish, and released on a bribe in the wee hours of the morning. He spoke with a smile and a near giggle throughout this story of corruption and dishonesty. This was his second time being detained, and his offence…not having his I.D. on him while waiting for a matatu (taxi bus) on his way home.
I took narrative exaggeration into account when he said 2,000 other suffered the same fate, but that would still leave a helluva lot of citizens at the mercy of the hired officials who supposedly “keep them safe”. Samuel informed me Kenyan police are the most corrupt on Earth, and considering Obama refused to come to Kenya recently due to its seedy government, its easy to take his story in and develop a healthy fear of Kenya’s system.
Tours start here based on airport convenience, and besides a quick shopping trip to Karen, a few animal activities, and spit grilled meals, there’s little else here that justifies time spent among the corruption bookends of government and criminality. I know the people who live here are lovely…it’s the search for them throughout the city that will do you in.
But the wonderful thing is, as soon as you leave the town limits, its nothing but love, gyrating hips, and carnivorous animals in Kenya.