Hello and welcome.
For those of you that don’t already know, I have just started a new job with the British Council and Nairobi, Kenya will be my home for the next two years. Yep, I’m making my African dream come true! Thank you for all the well-wishes and the support over the past month or so, it is hard to believe that I am finally here. Since I may be traveling a lot with work across the region and power-outs are hardly uncommon in Africa (!), I thought a blog would be the best way to keep everyone updated about my life here.
Hakuna matata is a Swahili phrase meaning ‘No worries’ or ‘Don’t worry be happy’. Like me, you probably heard it from the Lion King…I have posted the video below just because I think it’s amazing. The title however seemed appropriate as in my experience, Africa is pretty chilled out and unlike in the UK, you don’t need to worry about being late. Works for me, since I am always running late for everything. It will also hopefully encourage my friends and family at home to not worry too much. My heart goes out to everyone that was affected by the Westgate terror attack. It is an unfortunate time to move to Kenya but in the same way you cannot change the past, there is no way to forsee an event like that and we cannot let it force us into hiding. The title of the post, Karibu, is another Swahili word (see I’m learning) which means ‘welcome’. Kenya has certainly been welcoming so far, and since Nairobi is such a diverse city, I feel less like a stranger than I did in Ghana initially for example. However, given the city’s old nickname ‘Nairobbery’ and various security warnings about petty theft and car jackings, I will certainly be keeping my wits about me. Time for that money belt!
Other than a brief visit on Saturday to one of the main shopping areas, Westlands, to pick up my sim card, I feel like I have seen almost nothing of Nairobi, or Kenya for that matter. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t really complain about living in a nice hotel close to the office but it does make eating out quite difficult and there isn’t much life here. N.B. The hotel isn’t in the city centre and traffic is pretty horrific here – so much so that people here talk about the traffic rather than the weather! I am looking forward to seeing more of the city, having Swahili lessons and learning about Kenya and their customs. However, I can tell you that traffic lights are more like disco lights, airport-style security is just the norm and that Kenyans love to smile ☺
I began work on Monday as Business Development Coordinator – Development Services in the Sub-Saharan Africa team. It is a pretty epic title and from what I know so far, it sounds like my job will be pretty epic too. I shall be working on development projects all across the region with a variety of objectives, including promoting gender equality, improving civil society and reducing corruption. It is a fantastic opportunity, and one that I feel that could be the making of my career. Tell you what though, it feels pretty strange getting paid for something I would happily (and normally) do for free – but don’t tell them that haha!
I hope to post relatively frequently but sometimes that is easier said than done. Occasionally life just gets in the way, or maybe just a power out! I will try my best to post once every two weeks though.
Thanks for taking the time to read this- hope to see you in the next blog ✌