I arrived in Kenya this morning, fairly bleary eyed from a long but not uncomfortable journey. Immigration, for once, was a cinch. A big smile from the immigration officer (something I’ve never received before), electronic fingerprinting (also new) and a complete inability to find any records of previous visits in the system (some things never change). He gave up the task of tracing me very swiftly and with a “Karibu Kenya, Mr May, enjoy the Scout camp!”, I was back in Africa.
The journey to the hotel was the usual mixture of Nairobi juxtapositions. Men in black suits and shiny shoes on their way to work, walking at the side of road. The car swerving from lane to lane to avoid the potholes. “Volunteers” at the side of the carriageway, breaking up stone occasionally to fill the said potholes, but really waiting for a handout from the drivers. Fumes. Enormous billboards advertising Tusker beer, Nakumatt supermarkets, Safaricom mobile phones. What was missing was any sign at all of the streetchildren I remember from previous visits. No-one hassled us. Perhaps it was too early in the morning.
At the hotel, the 680 in central Nairobi, I met up with Anne Whiteford, John Naismith of the World Scout Bureau and World Scout Committee and Ross Maloney, leader of the British Contingent. They were attending a press conference. I showered, joined the end of the conference and then spent the day with the Brits, sightseeing. Three places I had never visited before: Karen Blixon’s house (now a museum, with a particularly quirky guided tour… “Here is a clock, original; here is a table, reproduction; here is the kitchen sink, original…”); A bead making factory, providing employment for single mums (and selling on at inflated prices to western tourists); The Giraffe Centre (where I was able to feed a giraffe and scratch its nose.)
The whole UK contingent spent the evening at the famous Carnivore restaurant. This provided several of the young people the opportunity to drink outrageous cocktails and to eat far too much food. I didn’t like to say to them that I felt this would be the most meat they’d see for at least ten days…