Thursday, 14 June 2007

It's Nairobi!

That's right! In September we'll be moving to Nairobi, Kenya.

I've told a few friends offline and the responses have been varied. There are those whose eyes gleam in anticipation of safari trips. And there are those whose voices rise a notch and who ask tentatively how I feel about the move. The number in the latter camp has increased dramatically since the bomb blast in downtown Nairobi on Tuesday.

So how do I feel about the impending move back to Africa (but not the part I know)? On the whole, I am really happy about it. I have always wanted to explore East Africa and now I'll have my chance. Nairobi is home to good schools, game parks and an outdoor lifestyle in which, I am sure, Bambi will thrive. The weather will undoubtedly be better. And I can hang up my toilet brush - we'll have staff.

On the other hand, I am realising just how cushioned from risk I have been over the past two years. The UK is a far more controlled society than any I have encountered in Africa. This can be frustrating but does make it a relatively safe place to live.

I grew up In Cape Town in the 70s and 80s. During that time we had numerous bomb scares, incidents of politically motivated violence and high crime rates. Being cautious and sensible was simply a way of life and we got on with it. I anticipate this is how we'll be in Kenya.

And, once again, we will be faced with the stark contrast between the comfortable expat lifestyle we will lead and the desperate poverty in Africa. It has become too easy to push these issues to the back of my mind while living in such a wealthy society. I hope to be able to actually do something while we are there.

So there you have it.

PS. I will write about our amazing trip to Skye soon. With pictures. Sorry for the delay - I've been a bit distracted!

17 comments:

Gwen said...

Congratulations. It sounds quite exciting - although bomb blasts are not quite the excitement you will be looking for I expect. Life in Africa will be very interesting and I'm sure the renamed African Blog will be great.

Best Wishes

Annie said...

Congratulations. How out of the loop am I that I have not seen or heard world news of any kind in the last 3 weeks? I didn't even know about that bomb blast.

I'll think of you when I look at my two beautiful Masai figurines on my console table here :) One of which is called 'Daughter of Africa' a title which you can claim with more authenticity than me, but one I like nonetheless.

Annie said...

I should have added also, from someone who grew up in a permanent atmosphere of politically, and religiously motivated unease, violence and regular bombs and bomb threats - you will thrive and flourish despite these things, and the common sense precautions will quickly become a way of life once more.

Stay at home dad said...

Yes, congratulations! Speaking as a Londoner, bomb blasts have never been far away her either...

PS I need to thank you for the picture clues. I know nothing abouot Africa but after searching Google and Wikipedia I have learnt an awful lot. Namely how modern Nairobi is, where giraffes live and how amazing S Africa looks!

The Good Woman said...

Thanks Gwen. The plan is to avoid bombs. Hope you keep reading my missives from afar.

Annie, the bomb blast didn't actually attract that much media attention here either - African news seldom does. But then I go looking for it.

SAHD - I had always hoped that my blog might inspire interest in sub-Saharan Africa. I'm so glad you enjoyed your research. Now you just need to pack up the family for a holiday. Or change the destination of YOUR move.

Katie said...

Good luck with your move! It sounds incredibly exciting and will give you all sorts of new things to write about!

lady macleod said...

I think it will be grand. I am a firm believer that you take your happiness with you. You and Bambi can come up to North Africa anytime. What a great adventure. Boy I can't wait to read Bambi's blog.

Reluctant Memsahib said...

I love Kenya. It's home, essentially. Nairobi is a good city to live in. Security can be a problem (but you'll know about that from SA anyway), but there are some fabulous schools, some great people, good suburbs and excellent medical care. The shopping rates too, as does eating out. Any idea where in Nairobi you'll live, do shout if I can offer my tuppence worth. My sis lives in Nairobi, she teaches at a big secondary school and has wee ones aged 6, 4 and 2. What's your man going to be doing there? Very, very best of luck.

The Good Woman said...

Thanks Katie - You're right - I may have to write about something other than the weather

Lady M - Careful what you offer. We may just turn up on your doorstep - I've always wanted to go to Morocco.

Hi Memsahib. Probably Karen. The Good Man will be working for a large organisation around Runda (got it?) but will be working directly with Kenyan government in a building further south in the city. We're thinking Karen/Langata as area to live.

I would love to get any advice I can - and would appreciate your inside knowledge enormously. I'll try to figure out an email device on my site so that we can communicate directly, if that's okay...

Reluctant Memsahib said...

Of course, my sis lives in Karen and teaches at Hillcrest.Her babes go to baby Hillcrest. Good first port of call even if not your choice for Bambi ultimately. Will e with insider info ...

Anonymous said...

Hi
My husband sent me your blog – he is a bit worried about moving me, and our 1.5 year old, away from my beloved Cape Town to Nairobi - I think he wanted to let me know that he is not a mean and nasty Gruffalo and that there are other people in the world doing the same thing and enjoying it.
We went on an LSD trip (look-see-decide) to Nairobi a week ago and you’ll be pleased to know that it seems like a good place to live. The fruit is fantastic (we found a house with 4 mango trees in the garden – this wasn’t one of our criteria, just an added bonus), Tuskers is the beer to drink and is almost as good as Tangawiza – both very good beverages for sipping in the fantastic weather – equatorially warm but pleasantly not sticky.
While I was there I heard an unconfirmed rumour that Habitat were going to start building houses there so perhaps an outlet for your wish to actually do something while you are there – I was thinking along the same lines which is why I remember it.
Best of luck for your move.

The Good Woman said...

Hi Anonymous

Aha! A partner in crime - or at least African relocation. I'm trying to figure out an email address that doesn't give away my identity to the blogosphere in its entirety - when I do, please drop me a line. We've kept a house in Cape Town and go back as often as finances allow but I really enjoyed our time in Zambia and plan to thoroughly enjoy Nairobi too. Really - it's a terrific lifestyle.

The Good Woman said...

Hi Anon - there's an email link from my Blogger profile now. Drop me a line if you want to share moving stories (about moving) without an audience.

Cursed Tea said...

That is very exciting for you! I can't fathom living in Africa - I'd love to visit one day. My sister in law is going to do some volunteer medical work in the fall. I feel I have a very sheltered view on the world having never seen Africa. (people in New Orleans call this city the third world and it makes me mad - its definitely not although how they treated people after Katrina definitely seemed like it).

Only one thing puzzled me. You mention "hanging up your toilet brush" because you'll have "staff" and in the next breath say how you would want to do things for others. I didn't grow up in Cape Town but I was wondering how you can reconcile those two issues of "having staff" and "helping others"??

Anonymous said...

Great news! An exciting new adventure will await the three of you in your beloved Africa. We just arrived in Tunis a day ago and like it so far, so we will have to swap a safari in Kenya for a night in the desert soon ! Big hugs from Anja and Carlos (who still have to work on our blog ... )

The Good Woman said...

Hi Cursed Tea. Your question is an interesting one and got me thinking. Kenya, Zambia and South Africa are all coutries with staggeringly high rates of unemployment. When I employ people to clean my home or maintain my garden I am providing employment - income to feed their families as well as other benefits. We usually provide staple food as well as income, and medical benefits for them and their families.

In addition, many employers fund skills development for their staff too. My brother has sent his children's nanny on specialist courses. I trained a cleaner in Zambia to be a cook so that he could be better paid.

Reading this back it all sounds quite benevolent and patriachal. What I'm really trying to say is that its a win-win relationship.

Compared to the UK, salaries for these jobs are low. There are cases where people are treated badly and exploited, but, on balance, work is work and money is money. Where the options are abject poverty or work, work seems to win out.

When I talk about 'helping others' I am thinking specifically about volunteer work - building houses for Habitat for Humanity or working with AIDS orphans. Perhaps fundraising. I'm not sure what form it will take at this stage.

Don't know if this answers your question or makes more sense to you now.

The Good Woman said...

Carlos and Anya - glad to hear you have arrived and all is going well. I am REALLY looking forward to the launch of your blog. And lots of photos!