Friday, February 9, 2007

Introductions and Contradictions

February 7th 2007. (10 hours in the country and blogging aready!)So this blog is going to be an interesting experiment. You’re actually getting an all access pass to my journal. I’m going to do this blog the same way I do my journal. On some days I have tons to say, and on others I’m too busy experiencing life to write…. I’m trying really hard to be honest to myself about my experiences and not focus on writing as a blog for outsiders. So, take all this with a grain of salt. I hope you enjoy this glimpse into what goes on into my head and if I do a good job of it, I will transport you to Kenya and show you a different side of the country, away from the tourist brochures or those infomercials of starving malnourished African orphans in slums (I hate those damn things. I think that’s an evil genre of TV. Its like porn for Westerners so they get to feel good about themselves for being so bright and smart and transforming their societies into vehicles of mass consumption at the expense of the rest of the world. No, you’re not so smart, you were just born lucky. Now stop exploiting children on those damn infomercials!)Aaahh I feel much better now.o.k. back to telling you what to expect from this blog. You’ll basically get a lot of me sharing my experiences here, processing them from both an individual standpoint but also trying to relate them to the broader global context through a reading of Jeffrey Sach’s the end of poverty. The book selection is thanks to Willy who always introduces me to new things then graciously allows me about six months for me to discover how cool they are. He told me about the book months ago but I was too clueless to realize how much I would love it. I finally got to check it out at the airport in San Francisco and bought it. I started reading it on the plane and I’m hooked. I plan on reading it and engaging with the text as I blog throughout this trip. I know, so academic…. But would you expect any different?So that’s what this blog is about: me experiencing things and processing them at an individual level and at a global level. Its basically a lot of me wrestling with issues.I really hope you will find it interesting enough to engage with me as I go through this process. Post comments to my entries and let me know what you think!

This is a country of contradictions. On the way from the airport a police officer straight up asked for a bribe. He didn’t bother trying to find a ruse for why the vehicle was contradicting a myriad of bizarre laws often made up on the spot. He just asked for money just because. He did not get one.

Fast forward to tonight where there was a documentary about the first ever open house for the judiciary. The judiciary is actually paying gobs of money to advertise its services to the public. To let people know what they do and how the average citizen can access legal services. In what country does the judiciary ever have an open house to sell its services to the citizens? I mean damn!! If ever there was a move to improve the quality of democracy, that’s it! I’m totally impressed and blown away.

On to more mundane stuff…
I checked into my apartment this morning. Damn!! Its nice. It’s a partially furnished studio (has some strange looking couches, a coffee table with stools, and a functioning TV on a stand that doubles as a bookshelf for me) I’m so excited especially about the T.V.! I have it on right now as I type this. The complex is a wonderful island of tranquility in a loud fast city. Its so worth the $500 a month. If only for the peace and feeling of security it is buying me. This is the first night spent in Kenya where I feel safe. I’m behind a tall wall topped by electric fencing and patrolled by guards. I’ve never felt safe on previous visits. This is partially because of the fact that Kenya apparently has a higher crime rate than Uganda and Tanzania combined. My parents’ home is in a rough neighborhood where, growing up, we did hear people getting violently robbed in the middle of the night. That kind of environment does not do good things to a child’s mind.

I kind of feel guilty for securing safety for myself while so many others will spend a terrorized night in their own homes. But I recognize my limitations and know that I can’t provide that for them. I used to always tell Jill this and I believe it more now, My first and foremost responsibility is to myself. If I am well, I can take care of others.

With that, I launch into the world out there after a comfortable night’s sleep in a safe apartment. I’m now focused on trying to settle in by buying the essentials like plates, a stove and soap, and re-establishing contacts with friends…….
Kenya, here I come!!!

No comments: