We are going on an adventure!
I think if Kenya was a woman she would be temperamental. Sometimes she would be tired, and sometimes angry, and sometimes enthusiastic about life. Sometimes she would be calm as a Catholic priest then other times she would scream her head off like one of those roadside preachers. Sometimes there would be rivers of tears running over those beautiful cheeks. Pain would sometimes look like her story. Pain you’ve caused because sometimes you are a bastard. Most times there would be laughter.
She wouldnt be tall and leggy and light skin. She would probably not wear miniskirts all the time, but she would have a few for those nights when the disco lights call. Kenya would be a thick voluptuous woman, with a husky voice and powerful eyes. She would have the most charming smile and the most beautiful face, with little black spots on her cheeks. She would have those eyebrows you are sure are fake but you can’t tell because they seem so natural.?Maybe she would have a head full of hair, or none at all. A clean-shaven Kenya exuding confidence and determination. Scarred by the past, inspired by the present, determined for the future. She would get home in the evening and kick her shoes off, throw her bags down and loosen her bra. Forget her wars and her debts and the worries of tomorrow.
She would look like an introvert at first but when she lets you in, when she shows you her weakness, youll fall in love.?She would names parts of her the Ilemi Triangle, and tempt you to make your corny jokes about it. She would wake you up in the middle of the night and askDo you think am fat. At first, you would approach the question like that guy in Hurt Locker, cursing to high heaven why you didnt follow that clickbait headline that promised to help you answer this question. You should have, because after all it promised that number 9 would make you laugh your ass out.
She would want to be explored. She would want you to make every effort to know what makes her tick, what makes her cry. Shed want you to know who hurt her before you. Her dreams and hopes, her vision. Sometimes, that gentle tug as the sunset sneaks in through your curtain windows would be to talk about where you see yourself in the next five years. Because she dreams, because she has a story and she wants her story in five years to be different.
Most of the time the stories wouldnt be about pain and hurt, or her temperamental nature. Or all those times she has snapped and gone bat shit crazy. Or of the many men who she let into her heart and they just went out and shit in her soul. She isnt one thing. Because most have been good days. Most days are those she has just brightened your morning and blessed you with her sunshine. When she has let you swim her waters and run her sands through your bare feet. Sometimes she has let you see the sides of her legs she doesnt oil, where the cracked skin now looks like the Chalbi Desert. Kenya’s story wouldn’t be easy to tell. Yet men like me would try anyway because if she rejects me, I will chalk it up to experience. Some will try to take photos of her, and some would pen poems and sing songs about her.
Most times we peel the bananas of her story here. Sometimes we travel. Most times those stories are stories of pain, and reflection, and betrayal. Because those often make the most emotional connection. We tell her story because we love her. We love her so much that we constantly need to dig back there to avoid making the same mistakes again.
Two years ago, Safaricom took me on an odyssey to the Coast.?It was an 8-day journey of chasing sunrises and sunsets and standing in the water with my hands up in the air, holding the lights for Migz. I thought we writers were the craziest of the lot but these photographers are nuts. They will do anything for that perfect shot. ?They will even put poor writers who only go out for sun for an hour a day in the seething Lamu sun, day after day, among donkeys and dhow captains with no boxers. In case you are wondering, yes, all this ruckus is to make a calendar. So when you hang it in your house or on your desk at work, it becomes a work of art. When you see those brilliant landscapes or those charming smiles, or an old Kenyan sapeur, dressed in a stunning red suit with a backdrop of Kibera, you regain purpose. You push through the day, then another, before you know it its 365 days later and you need a new calendar. You need new stories.
Its that time of the year again. This time, the brief is to take this beautiful girl whos let us love her and tell her story. We dont have, like that first time, to tell just stories of the men and women she loves. Neither do we, like the generation after us, have to look for her bizarre stories and turn them into stunning imagery. This time we want her to tell us the stories she would have us tell.
Unlike the last two times when one man or woman was enough to tell her story, this time she gets two. A pro and a protg. Then theres the rest of us holding flash lights while hanging from a branch or a 17th floor window. Or a shallow lake. Then sitting down in the evening, of a double of rum, and bleeding onto blank word pages to tell those stories. This time, the dream team will have Allan Gichigi and Kokan on the camera, and Maureen working the production. Then the other teams will have Migz and Joseph, and the third one Osborne and Emmanuel.
We are going to the Chalbi Desert and following as convoluted a route as we can to that forsaken yet stunningly beautiful desert. So if you are anywhere on the route, from Masaku through Nanyuki, Meru, Samburu, South Horr or even Loiyangalani, point us to what you think deserves to be celebrated as authentically Kenyan. We arent asking for diversions and distractions, we need them. They are why this odyssey is going to last a thrilling 10 days. In Coast, Magunga will be talking about his new discovery that he gets airsickness. In Rift Valley and Western, Ndinda will be discovering that Migz, despite his disarming style, is a mad genius who works like a horse for his shots. Everything will be curated on#ThisIsMyKenya.
The journey of a thousand miles begins today.