A number of friends have done that thing that expats very occasionally do ... they've gone home.
Hearing news of one move, followed by another, then another, tends to rock one's foundations a bit. You ask yourself; 'Should we go?' 'If so, when?' 'What is our plan?' - But my husband and I never have a plan - we are generally just grateful to be working. But it's harder to justify the expat existence when your children are studying overseas, parents are getting older back home, nieces and nephews are growing up at a startling rate. Suddenly the family is split down the middle and it's not the expat idyll of young children and tea parties that it once was.
Our friends left Nairobi for various reasons but underscoring their decision must have been the fact that the past 12 months in Kenya was undoubtedly an 'annus horribilis'. The Westgate crisis, then grenade attacks and security threats followed by foreign office travel bans. If anyone was toying with the idea of leaving, then they certainly cannot have needed much of a push. Kids coming home having done terrorism 'duck and cover' security drills at school was almost the final straw.
But now it seems that the annus horribilis has 'gone global' - with Ebola and ISIS spreading its menace - meanwhile, things in Kenya (fingers crossed) have settled down a bit and long may it continue.
I mourn my missing friends and often think about how they are adjusting to their 'new' life back in England but we still enjoy a good lifestyle here - in spite of heavy traffic and heart-in-mouth moments, just as long as the relative peace and calm in Kenya continues - fingers crossed.
Meanwhile, the expat stereotypes series continues - hope it raises a smile:
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
The Expat Stereotypes.…Lifting the lid on 21st century expat life in Africa.
“I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills….” Hang on a minute...this book was written a hundred years ago! Today news stories concern terrorist strikes, famine and corruption but what does Africa look like from the point of view of the British or international expat who actually lives here today?
In the 21st century times have changed. A tech boom, rising middle class, oil and gas discoveries, traffic mayhem, the arrival of the Chinese and a rich new seam of expats who are grabbing opportunities and making a life in the sun. Is it still all polished floors, servants and white gloves or is the truth very different?
Following the success of the Telegraph Magazine’s best selling ‘Social Stereotypes’ by Victoria Mather and Sue Macartney-Snape, I devised the ‘Africa Expat Stereotypes’ in order to dispel myths of modern life in Africa as an expat; from the locally recognisable Kenya Cowboy (and cowgirl) to the modern day ex-army security specialist, the jobbing news reporter, the craft fair stall holder, the UN worker who is set to solve the world’s problems, to the aging safari camp managers who are holed up in the Masai Mara.
The ‘Africa Expat Stereotypes’ humorously describe how foreigners are carving out a life here that is very different to the one that they would be leading back in Blighty. The Africa Expat Stereotypes are currently being serialized by the UK Telegraph online (on their Life/Expat Life page).
The book would have a wide appeal, either to expats the world over (since many of the themes are universal) to travellers who are interested in Africa or in living overseas. The short, satirical articles are coupled with fantastic illustrations that would make the book an excellent gift item. Just as the UK Social Stereotypes series is still running, the ‘Africa Expat Stereotypes’ could run as a multiple series of books since there is a wealth of untapped material available!
*Look out for 'The Reluctant Camper' due to be published with illustration in The Telegraph soon.
Am going down the conventional route but it's tough (needless to say). Creative suggestions as to how I might get this book off the ground are welcome!!! :)
Copyright © 2014 Frances Woodhams