A pretty young universe, Bryan Adams, circumcision and food waste in Africa (exit Kenya)
It kind of just dawned on me: Food gets thrown away in Africa?!
It's not a complicated train of thought. This is a continent and not a country. And even if we were only speaking about a single one of the 54 countries then it would still be the case: Food gets thrown away here too.
The reason why this is a strange thought to me, is because I come from Denmark where our plates are usually full. And if a child will not finish his plate then a parent would commonly say: "Think about the hungry children in Africa!!" There is much ignorance in that in the same way that the Chinese must all wear rice hats and America is nothing but cowboys and Indians. And Africa is naturally much more than the poverty we have heard about. In fact the middle class is thriving in many countries all around this continent. Families are importing cars from Asian factories, the universities are pumping out graduates, flatscreen TV's are turned on each night...I would argue that millions of African lives are little to no different from yours. So imagine the breakfast buffet at a luxury hotel somewhere in Africa. What happens to the leftover food? Well many chefs will reuse as much as they can, but food is certainly thrown away. How about a nice middle class nuclear family finishing dinner...did they scrape and lick their plates? Food is getting thrown away in Africa. I'm not sure why this is so important to me. Maybe just because it feels like an original thought? And the irony of the case would be that tonight someone who didn't finish his plate will throw away food not far from someone who didn't eat all day.
What will happen to the food if I don't clean my plate?
Steve's wife Devorah texted me last week and invited me to join them at the Nairobi Synagogue for the Friday service. So I happily did. I really like Steve and Devorah so that was enough for me to say yes. But I also enjoy diving into the unknown and I'm a little ignorant on Judaism which happens to be the oldest monotheistic religion we know of. The service was nice and interesting. Only men could sit in the middle and we needed to have 10 Jewish men assembled before we could begin. Women had to sit on either side of the room. The Rabbi had a cool black hat which could easily compete with my own, which I wore throughout the entire service. It was such an odd thing for me to do as I would commonly remove my hat in most buildings as a sign of respect. But in the synagogue it was opposite. Every man had to wear something on his head. I sat next to Ashley who explained everything for me as we went through it minute by minute. The Rabbi would sway like a lit candle while reciting scripture or singing. It was very beautiful, very traditional and at the same time very informal. Children were running about and Ashley would blatantly point things out to me without disturbing anyone.
Inside the only synagogue in Nairobi.
Afterwards, in a room near the synagogue, we literally broke bread together, and I was asked to tell about the Saga before dessert was served. I later on exchanged contact details with Ashley and small talked with a lot of the people present. Afterwards the 24 year young Rabbi invited me to sit with him and his wife in their home within the complex. I couldn't shake her hand, because she isn't supposed to touch another man. She was caring for their newborn son who had the most captivating calm eyes I have ever seen in a child. Rabbi Avraham Super (what a great name) explained that he had traveled quite extensively in spite of his young age. We spoke about Judaism and about how he and his wife are likely to grow old in Kenya with him as the synagogues Rabbi. I think that is very interesting purely in terms of dedication! I asked him about creationism and was told that the universe with everything in it is merely 5,761 years old apposed to 4.5 billion years. It's a substantial difference. But in reality I don't know what's true as I don't know how to test it? I just rely on what I read or what someone smarter than me says. That's how it is for most of us. We accept second hand information and make it our own.
So I asked the Rabbi how that works? I mean: The Egyptians had calendars and the pyramids are more than 6,000 years old? His reply was that there are different types of calendars and not all amount to 365 days. Okay? But then what about carbon dating? Don't scientists measure the radioactiveness of items and find that some things date hundreds of thousands of years back? To this the Rabbi replied that when God created the world 5,761 years ago he created it with old things in it. As an example he would have created a dead 5,000 year old tree and placed it in his new world. Therefore it now appears to be 10,761 years old. I wonder who's right?
Celebrated every year on December 12th. Kenya attained full independence in 1963.
The next day Ashley invited me to come and meet him at his workplace at Wells Fargo. At his office I got to meet Judy. She was dressed in smart clothes and had a big friendly smile and welcoming eyes. After a while I had been invited to join her 14 year old sons traditional circumcision celebration!? Ashley and Judy explained to me that some Kenyans are feeling that they are loosing traditions in a world that's constantly moving forward. The circumcision ritual marks the transition from boyhood to manhood for her son Ethan. But it was clear that Judy couldn't quite look at him as a man just yet. Aren't mothers just wonderful :) We agreed to meet up later at the event. Judy had to go and get dressed before the event and laughed: "The next time you see me you won't recognize me".
Fiona snaps a photo of Judy :)
Ashley and I picked up Ashley's friend Fiona on our way to the event. Fiona is a rather small woman with a large personality. She's lovely from top to toe and has immigrated to the US, where she is a captain in the United States Air Force. I would never have guessed from looking at her? We reached the ceremony where we greeted a completely transformed Judy! She was now wearing Kikuyu themed traditional clothing. Kenya has 42-43 tribes and the vast majority of Kenyans can not be identified by their clothing, as they dress in modern fashion, just like everyone else on this planet. However you often see the Masai in their world famous red outfits. They must be the exception that proves the rule? Anyway! There Judy was dressed in her Kikuyu outfit from top to toe, however still with her chic sunglasses and a smartphone in hand. "Do you recognize me?!?" :)
21 young men had all been in a 10 day long training camp to become men and now the big day had come. Tents had been erected, food was being prepared and around 100 friends and family members were present to celebrate the day. It started out with a small group of young dancers in traditional outfits who performed for us. But this began just as it was announced that the food was ready to be served. And a good piece of advice from me to you is not to get between a Kenyan and food! :) It was a bit strange to see so many people in traditional clothing in a city of modern people and modern cars. And it was pretty obvious that most just had their "costumes" done for the occasion. The mixture of traditional clothing warn by the parents and the amount of smartphones recording the event was mind boggling. A fun contrast to observe :)
Judy did her part in serving out food. And in incredible style :)
Nobody was getting circumcised on this day. That had been done days before. Speeches were given and the "teachers", or perhaps guides during the 10 days, were presented: "The eldest must be respected and the youngest must be protected" was proclaimed which I found to be very wise. During the 10 days in the wild some of the teenagers had experienced taking a cold shower for the first time in their life and doing their business for the first time on a primitive latrine. Some were apparently quite far from the comfort of their civilized lives with PlayStations and wifi. The team had undergone a crash course in matters such as: Drugs, alcohol, HIV, AIDS, sex, girls, fitness, culture, background, religion, hygiene, law, rights, dating and dignity. Some had slept in a sleeping bag for the first time and they had all had their heads shaved. The boys were charged with the task of picking a name for their class which is memorable and represents the year 2016. They had come up with: "Class of Trump". The parents roared out a laughter which spread across the tents when they heard this!!! :)
The proud parents of the newly announced men.
The "Class of Trump".
Ashley, Fiona and I said farewell to Judy after several hours of ceremony, food, drinks, songs and speeches. We drove back to the city and dropped off Fiona before heading out to "Carnivore" for a drink and a laugh. Ashley had tickets for the "Because You Said So" standup evening where 6 standup comics would take turns to impress the audience. Around 400 Kenyans were there to enjoy the show which for me ranged between fair, amusing and funny. For the larger part I think it was amusing at best. But most people around me definitely found it to be hysterical. As such I think some people thought I didn't understand the references which I probably did at least 80% of the time. It just wasn't that funny to me. My humor is placed somewhere else. BUT THEN!! Towards the end of the show the 6 comics had to perform playback on stage to a number of pop songs. They did a great job out of parodying various dance moves and at times it was directly impressive. However they completely blew me away with their playback performance of Bryan Adams "(everything I do) I do it for you"!! That was so incredibly spectacular!! The 400 or so audience members went completely bonkers as this old classic conquered the night. Who would have thought?!? :) I could kick myself for not filming any of it. It was legendary!! #BYSS
Because You Said So!! At Carnivoire.
I was interviewed by Mike Lee Pearl from this US online media platform which has an enormous global span. Mike had heard that I knew something about traveling on containerships which is true. That was the focus of his well written article: http://www.vice.com/read/what-its-like-to-see-the-world-for-almost-no-money-by-traveling-on-container-ships
Once the article was released online it quickly received a lot of attention for better and for worse. And suddenly the Saga was the focus of cargo ship travel for media in the U.K. (and elsewhere around the world) So that made me busy with interviews. Both written and radio. Only some of it has been broadcasted or published so far and it will be interesting to see which waves it might create? Even Australia's largest online media wrote about it and we've heard from Japan too!
I had a last meal with my friend Nauman whom I originally met in Bangladesh 2011 (before the Saga).
Gina Din reacted to that I haven't been feeling well lately and arranged for me to see a doctor. Fortunately there's nothing wrong. We even ran tests at a lab to confirm it wasn't cancer or virus. We figure that it's nothing more that mental exhaustion, not enough food and too little sleep. It basically just means that I'm a bit of a fool and should keep on keeping on at a slightly lower pace. I really like Gina! I sure hope we will meet again some day. www.ginadin.com
I also visited a family in Kibera. Kibera is the largest urban slum in Africa. Geoffrey was happy to live there with his wife and son.
I've fallen in love with Kenya which is easy to do. It's a country with its own problems, but with so much which can be promoted positively! But now it's time to leave. I have my Ethiopian visa and I have a document which "theoretically" should permit me to receive my Sudanese visa on arrival to their border? "Theoretically" doesn't quite cut it for me, but I'm not getting any further with the embassy. Perhaps I would if I stayed around in Kenya for a bit longer but it's definitely time to go. Rarely do we spend as much time in one country as I have here.
I'll finish this one with a great question which Ashley posed. He's such an interesting man and I'm not surprised that it came from him:
"What do you think is more difficult globally; to get onboard the containerships or to get the visas you need?"
What an amazing question!
This isn't a monologue so please comment or ask a question in the commentary below. And thank you for the donations to the Red Cross. More than euro 200 already!! Now it looks like something! :)
Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - Zzzzz
"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"
Once Upon A Saga