UN World Refugee Day - real surpise in Nairobi

Saturday, June 20, 2009
Nairobi, Kenya
Today I had planned to walk to the renovated National Museum just behind the hotel. But first as I needed some KES $$$ to pay for the hotel plus buy some more rechargeable batteries as I don't think my 2 sets that I brought over with me will last so I wandered into town. Yesterday I used one set of batteries in 2 hours!

I wandered through the city markets and was greeted with "Jambo!" Welcome to Africa as the stall holders wondered why did this tourist walk into this smelly place with fish being filleted, meat hanging ... you can get the drift. Then next door was a craft market - something like Auckland's Victoria Markets but this is African style and I was so wary of stopping and being dragged into the shops by the eager talkative stall holders. I will wait till later but it was a good introduction to the souvenirs that will be in our face later on.

Past City Hall and being moved on by the security guard for taking a photo of the sign and then I heard a brass band with a crowd behind ... what's up?
UN World Refugee Day - Real People - Real Needs.

Next door to this were literally thousands of women attending a KWFT bank function. I didn't understand what it was all about but the marquee that covered all these ladies was huge. It felt like a church service in progress.

For the next 3 hours at the UN World Refugee Day event, I was entertained by refugees or groups from the different countries - Sudan, Burundi, Congo, Ethiopia, Somalia and Uganda.

The Minister for Immigration was the guest of honour.

I only got into this closed off event and display by walking in behind the brass band as they entered from the street. The ordinary Kenyan citizens were not allowed in till much much later. How was to know? Eventually I became part of the "press" and eventually got game enough to sit in front of the official party with the press taking my photos! I looked the part!


Seeing and hearing all these different cultures performing their native dance and song was a real bonus to me. Looking at the dramatic photos and understanding a little bit more about the huge refugee problem that the world is facing was an eye opener for little old me living such a sheltered life style away in safe far off New Zealand.
I had come to Africa to meet the locals. Talking with them along the street and at the UN World Refugee Day event was a wonderful way to begin my African adventure.

So no visit to the National Museum as planned. This can wait till my next Nairobi trip.

Word of caution
... while walking along the city streets, several males came up to me and tried to engage in small talk. Starting to be a bit travel savvy and wary, I kept firm hold of my sling bag which had nothing of consequence in it anyway, engaged in polite chit chat to try and understand a bit more about local African life style but was waiting for what I call the hook which eventually came ... bottom line was "can you give me some .... to help me or my family with ..."

We have a 6 pm pre-departure meeting with my fellow travellers tonight, I understand that we have a full truck of 24 travellers, what will they be like? Tomorrow at 8 am it's off for the Masi Mari and perhaps on day 1 we will see the Big 5!

PS As the below photos show, I was captivated by the various nations dance, especially the Ethiopian girls with their long braided hair swinging from side to side in the air to the music. Watch the short video clip to experience a bit of this for yourself.

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