When someone says Africa, what is the first thing that crosses your mind? Be honest. Brutally honest.
You don’t have to say it. I already know.
It’s what you hear on the news, see in images on NGO websites, and watch in films. It’s ‘Blood Diamond‘, children covered in flies, ‘Hotel Rwanda‘, K’naan, refugee camps, Al-Shabaab, beastly lions, jumping Maasai warriors, spewing wells in rural communities, mamas balancing baskets on their heads, joyous choirs & lively dancing, corrupt leaders, and ‘The Gods Must be Crazy‘ (Parts I and II).
Yes, some of these things are true to Africa. And then some are a stretch/stereotype/generalization.
But none of them are Africa.
How can one summarize a whole continent when a single country within that continent could be made up of over 40 tribes and dialects?
If the aforementioned is what you know of Africa, I’m not saying it’s your fault. You know these things about Africa because this is what you are fed. But, oh my word, Africa is so, so much more.
Crazy as it is, even within Nairobi’s city limits, I remain in a constant state of surprise. My perception of life and culture in Nairobi is continually tested and molded. And this is just Nairobi. Knowing this, imagine how much I have to learn about Kenya. Now consider East Africa. And, whoa, what about the entire continent of Africa?
You picking up what I’m putting down?
It’s the day-to-day nuances that make a people and place what they are. And most of these nuances can’t be known unless one has lived and breathed and touched them.
Now, it’s not usually my thing to publicize my obscure, daily activities (not that there’s anything wrong with doing so), but this doesn’t mean that I don’t capture these moments for myself.
My hope is that by sharing a few of my day-to-day documented memories, you can be exposed to some of the nuances of East Africa (I cannot claim all nuances, only some – for I can only share what I’ve personally experienced) – the ones they don’t show in the movies or World Cup advertisements.
So here’s to the joys. delicious foods, embarrassing moments. long commutes. jaw-dropping sunsets. orange-dusty feet. mosquito nets. power outages, three week friendships, and simple beauties that make up my every day life. I may be thousands of miles away from my west coast roots, but the often overlooked, always priceless, bits and pieces of my life here serve as a reminder that 9,000 miles isn’t so far after all.
[The following photos span over the last 11 months. During this time I have been living in East Africa and working for World Concern. Some are new, some are old, but they all make up my life as a 26-year-old west coast girl living in Kenya, Chad, South Sudan, and Somalia.]