10 Interesting things about my visit To Kenya from food, weather, transportation and the Kenyan people!
So I’ve visited just four countries in Africa; Kenya was my fourth. It was a very fun experience and I want to share 10 very interesting things about Kenya, from food and weather, to transportation and the Kenyan people!
Kenya is a lot like Lagos: To be honest, it didn’t feel too different. Well, except the roads are much, much narrower. It’s not as crowded, there isn’t that ‘hustle’ which drives Lagos and the weather is way cooler. OK, so maybe it’s not exactly like Lagos, but in my mind it is quite similar to Lagos, compared with other countries like Mauritius or South Africa. Here's a pic from my hotel room window:
East Africa’s common language is Swahili: I love the sound of Swahili, it sounds a lot like Hausa and I love the effortless way Kenyans switch between Swahili and English.
My hypothesis is that Hausa and Swahili are in fact similar, considering that both cultures are heavily influenced by the Arabs. Originally called Kingozi, the language merged with Arab, Persian and Indian languages and evolved into Swahili.
I find it so cool that they are able to, as a country, speak in one unifying language even with different tribes. It’s written everywhere; airport, trains, etc. For Nigeria, the closest I can find to a unifying language is Nigerian Pidgin.
Kenyan food isn’t very spicy: The Yoruba woman that I am loves her food with a little spice (read pepper) and unfortunately the Kenyan palate abhors pepper. Fun fact: they have a dish called Nyama Choma which is essentially goat meat (“asun”) without the pepper. What is asun without pepper?
Kenya government do NOT play with security: You literally cannot take pictures of public buildings without being apprehended. For what it’s worth there is full disclosure, with signs clearly telling you not to take pictures in certain areas. At the train station, dogs sniff through your luggage. This probably stems from the history of terrorism in the country. Sometimes, it’s a little intense for me not being used to it, but I think you get used to it as you go.
Huge tourism destination: Kenya is known for its amazing Safaris and the clear blue beaches of Mombasa. The famous National Park has giraffes you can feed (sometimes even mouth to mouth). I also sense a lot of national pride in Kenya. I personally witnessed people wearing hand bands of the Kenyan flag or its colors; black, red and green pattern illustrations on clothing, jewelry etc.
Matatus are to Danfos as TukTuks are to Kekes: Kenya’s transportation is similar to Nigeria’s, with Matatus (buses) being the most common while TukTuks (tricycles) are common in the inner cities. They do have a recently launched train line from Nairobi to Mombasa which is pretty decent. The Matatus are also known for the art on them. I took the train and the trip lasted 5 hours though; a 600km trip took 5 hours!
The ferry service: So, at Mombasa there’s an expanse of water separating the island from the coast. Instead of a bridge, there’s a ferry service that takes buses, trucks and people. You essentially just drive on the ferry and get off on the other side. I thought it was bizarre. I asked my colleagues why they didn’t just build a bridge as I imagine that would be a more cost effective solution. Apparently there’s been controversy around that as well. I enjoyed the ferry ride though. I tried to steal a pic:
Kenya is a producer: Kenya as a country produces quite a lot of stuff like fresh flowers, tea, and coffee, and it's known for its tourism. I do like that it is an industrialized nation and also a pioneer with technology. Its notorious Mpesa (mobile money) shows clearly how Africa is a great place to leapfrog with new technologies. There is however controversy on the legalities around its tech giant (Safaricom) having the Kenyan Government as shareholders (the Treasury owns 35% stake) and its antitrust implications.
Nairobi weather is amazing, Mombasa is very humid: I loove Nairobi weather. It was as low as 16 degrees (celsius) during the nights and during the day, even though it was sunny and hot, it was bearable. I mean you could take a walk. Mombasa on the other hand was as high as 31 degrees coupled with humidity and very little wind, which meant quite a lot of sweating happened.
Kenyans are amazing! I met such wonderful people on my trip and my Kenyan friends are the absolute best. I love the open nature of the people of Kenya, willing to help, always smiling. It’s great! I didn’t have any negative experience and it was all round awesome. I would go again!
Ever been to Kenya? What was your experience?