I really don't intend to offend any Kenyan readers with posts like 'The city girl in Africa'. I feel I must explain myself in light of facile remarks like 'why don't you just pack up and go home then?!'. OK, fair enough - only I don't hate living here - in fact, I love it and feel enormously lucky to be experiencing it all.
What I set out to do in this blog is dispel the myth that (I would argue) exists overseas, of an expat life in Africa being some kind of gilded, over privileged existence. UK journalists STILL can't help throwing in the phrase 'Happy Valley', in anything they write on Kenya. I believe that there is still the widely held conception that for expats; living in Kenya is all about wonderful safaris, lounging on beaches and following your heart then finding your destiny. Nobody talks about supermarket shopping or the fact that your bins are sorted through every week or there is a man who sleeps on the grass every night outside our house.... Popular novels such as 'I dreamed of Africa' and 'Call of the Wild', plus TV programs like 'Big Cat Diary' perpetuate this myth. It is pure escapism.
An acquaintance argued that outside Kenya 'people love reading all this stuff - romance, big skies and the bush etc.' and would rather not know about the nitty gritty - but I don't really see any humour in that. So what I am trying to do here is redress the balance and with any luck, make one or two people smile.
At the very least, a picture of an (albeit mundane) expat story, but grounded in reality is of more use to people moving here from overseas than romantic novels. They need to know about schools, doctors and dentists not just beautiful holidays that they might be able to take if they can ever afford it. In addition, I would like to cheer up those in often rain soaked England who are facing the harsh realities of the economic crisis - and say 'running away to somewhere hot is nice - but it's not necessarily all it's cracked up to be.'
I love getting feedback from Kenyans living overseas who say they like reading this blog. Kenyan students I met recently were also mildly interested in understanding what makes the expats living in their country tick. To them, the expats they saw about the place were a mystery and I fear, not very well thought of.
BTW - On something totally different - Uhuru Kenyatta's Budget was announced yesterday - it was well received, a crowd pleaser as far as I can tell. One of the most talked about changes was a ban on big 'gas guzzling' cars for MPs - but otherwise Government employees came out smiling with a better deal for them and no much feared requirement for them to begin to pay their taxes. Next we have to wait and see what happens re: implimentation.
Also, Kofi Annan has given another deadline for Kenya pull it's finger out and set up a local tribunal in order to try those central characters responsible for inciting mass violence following the Dec 2007 election. Unless a tribunal is set up by August, Annan will pass his secret 'envelope of names', given to him after the Waki Report was conducted, to The Hague ICC. This news only made the back page of the Standard today. It seems that any kind of scandal here is easily swept under the carpet in the hopes that the general public will forgive and if not, forget.