We were invited to a film premier through work last Friday night and it had to be the worst film I have ever seen in my life!
First of all, I didn’t know what to wear. I know that’s not relevant to the film, but I’m just setting the scene. There was no dress code specified but previous ‘premiers’ have been black tie events and the advice that filtered back to us was that in Kenya people generally veer toward the smarter end of the scale. So, dressed to the nines, we headed to the relevant shopping centre/cinema complex and duly milled around watching the pre film entertainment which comprised; men on stilts, fire eaters, African drummers and ladies in traditional dress. Quite a spectacle, though it dragged on a bit. Shoppers who were piling out of the supermarket with their stacked trolleys stopped and watched and I began to feel overdressed and a bit chilly.
The event was laid on to mark the launch of festival to celebrate six recently made African films. It became apparent that many of those invited had decided to stay at home and shoppers were heavily outnumbering guests. As the speeches began, we had our first reservations about the film we were about to watch. Produced in Nigeria to ‘international’ standard, it was called the ‘Amazing Grace’ and was about a man named John Newton (circa 1700), who was a slave trader… Ok, John Newton was played by someone of Lock, Stock and 2 Smoking Barrels fame, but boy, has he fallen on hard times? As we headed up to Screen one, the manager of the cinema chain felt compelled to pre-warn us about the film, ‘of course, this is the weakest one of the festival, and a bit cringe making at times. It makes you wince a bit, but it’s ok’. Great. So, seated next to a row of Kenyan staff from my husband’s office we sat through a lame, low budget, two dimensional film about kidnapping, killing and raping slaves taken from Nigerian settlements by white traders and how the protagonist, John Newton finally came to the realisation that the slaves were after all humans, and not actually the ‘animals’ that he first believed. The whole film was based on a highly tenuous premise that the hymn ‘Amazing Grace’ was inspired by a tribal song heard by John Newton whilst ‘slaving’ in Nigeria, thus proving how he had come to love the people he enslaved. However, the postscript to the film stated that he carried on trading in slaves for the following five years after penning the famous hymn. This seemed to disprove any theory that John Newton had seen the error of his ways. We left in an embarrassed hurry with our heads bowed low and decided to be more discerning with work invitations in future.
In the meantime, the whole of the Karen suburb of Nairobi have decided to loose weight and get fit. Rather than making new years resolutions, we start in September, the beginning of the academic year (more time, as kids back at school) and after the lengthy summer holidays (having over indulged in the delicious ‘home’ cuisine of Europe). There is a ‘boot camp’ that you can sign up to which involves a strict diet, daily exercise timetable and parting with a large amount of cash for in return for that one on one supervision. Or you can do it yourself, and visit one of the plentiful gyms where exercise classes are packed with jostling housewives full of good intentions. It’s hell. We are crashing into one another whilst grapevine-ing across the ‘studio’ and are at risk of neighbourly impact whilst performing tae bo kicks. You are lucky if you catch a glimpse of the instructor at the front of the room or have the faintest clue how to follow the routine going on around you.
Last week I had a ‘toys out of the pram’ moment, when the advertised instructor was replaced by a new man who dared to hold a ‘step’ class instead of ‘body conditioning’. After loud protestations to the manager of the gym of; ‘I hate step, it’s bad for my knees, why is he doing step?’ I stalked out of the studio and headed off to the treadmill for a run. A bit embarrassing in hindsight, but it was the principal of the thing. We usually round up the work out with a ‘fat’ (rather than skinny) latte and discuss current issues concerning school and children. However, with all this exercise one knee is twinging and I am beginning to realise that I’m running out of time for anything else, like being with my one year old daughter whilst her sisters are at school, or writing this blog. Plus, I’m so exhausted at the end of each day, as if waking up for the school run at 6am is not bad enough. So my ‘September’ resolution has lasted precisely four weeks and I’ve decided it’s better to be heavier, happier and less tired. Although perhaps I will miss the lattes?