Are We Boxed In?

I stepped out of the house for the first time today since I got back on Saturday night from Johannesburg.

It all feels so bizarre – like the trip was a dream and I’ve just woken up after 17 days.

My main reason to go to South Africa was for AfrikaBurn. I felt like I needed The Burn to start a fresh. To rediscover myself. To figure life out.

The Burn never worked out for me, I missed it – The trip itself wasn’t working out.

I’ve seen it a number of times on the internet, where someone will start a crowd fund for a trip. People who can’t afford it or people who’re just short of cash. Friends and family would normally pitch in without even giving it a second thought.

Oh I forgot to mention, these people are usually American/European/Australian.

So, as soon as I started my crowd fund, I was frowned upon. Told to work harder to save more to “buy myself a holiday” instead of asking for a “hand out”. Got called a free rider and other sorts of things.

Of course these people were Kenyan or from Asian descent.

My European friends and a few Kenyan friends who have travelled actually did contribute towards my crowd fund because THEY UNDERSTAND what it means to travel. Especially for the first time ever!

Out of nowhere, one of my American friends started a crowd fund! Asking his friends and family to help him catch a flight for his brother’s wedding from Kenya to the U.S and back. He collected the money he needed IN LESS THEN 3 DAYS!

How boxed in is your mind?

The main thing that was pinching every nerve in my body was the flight. 2 friends, as a gift for my birthday in 2014, were gonna pitch in to buy me a ticket to go to Cape Town. They were tired of hearing me say “I’ve never left Kenya” and just wanted me to go. Obviously, it didn’t work out for me between my birthday and the day I got my visa, which was early April. They backed out because of cash issues. Fair enough.

Costs go up even higher now.

On 4th May, I gave up. Fully. Put my hands up and said, there’s no way this is gonna happen! My entry clearance was expiring on the 7th of May.

On the 5th of May, literally everything fell into place. EVERYTHING!

Packed my stuff on the 6th and flew out on the 7th!

I’m not gonna go in detail about the trip (look out for that post) but all I can say is, what an eye opener!

Getting out of Kenya and going to South Africa, spending 17 days in another African country and noticing the similarities and the differences was mind blowing!

Everyone was on about the Xenophobia and racism in the country etc. Honestly, I’ve never seen such a diverse country with so much equality before. Xenophobia was a story on its own.

Johannesburg, the people were warm and open and interact with everyone as a human being. It was so nice not to hear someone else refer to another race as “Mzungu”, “Muhindi” or whatever. So chill. Everyone was so chill.

How boxed in are we as Kenyans?

But they all warned me about Cape Town! That it’s not that safe and that I should be careful. And here I am thinking to myself, dude… In Kenya we hear that Johannesburg is KNOWN for its crime situation and you’re warning me about Cape Town?

Cape Town, is a world of its own. Everyone’s in their own little bubble doing their own thing. So much to do and see there. It was gorgeous! Probably the only place where the words, Black, White and Coloured were used the most. Everyone thought I was local because I looked like a Cape-Malay. I didn’t even know what that was until I got there (Google the history).

Insecurity though? I have never felt safer in my life! The amount of times I was told not to walk around at night because you might get caught at gun-point or knife-point was likely. I never felt unsafe.

I walked around a lot, because it’s that easy!

How boxed in are we in Nairobi though?

I hear the boda-boda guys are at it again? That too in broad daylight?

Al Shabab’s walking amongst us?

Everyone’s so into their own lives and their little clicks and circles that they don’t even have the time to look at you and talk to you unless you approach them. Try doing that here… Especially being “Muhindi”, everyone is up in your business.

I lived in a flat for 12 days in Cape Town, the building had 6 floors and 12 flats per floor, I didn’t even know who lived across from me or next to me! And I’m sure those who live there, don’t even know everyone on their floor! Let alone building! Try that in Nairobi… Everyone knows everyone. They even know your house help. They know where you work and they even know the colour of the underwear you wore yesterday!

How boxed in are we?

That we can’t mind our own freaking business but have to know what’s cooking in the good looking’s place tonight?

How boxed in are we?

The nightlife in South Africa is so different. It’s amazing. The appreciation locals have for THEIR LOCAL TALENT is immense. It was so amazing to see people pay up to Kshs. 4000 WITHOUT hesitation or question for a Robin Schulz gig. It was so amazing to see them go mental when Goldfish performed!

Kenya? Aiii ati ticket ni Kshs. 2000? Na Kshs. 3000 kwa gate?

They understand how much goes into putting an event together and that the show is being catered FOR YOU! Forget the money, half the time promoters lose money. But it’s just to make sure you have a great time – and they flippin understand that! It was a Sunday night! A SUNDAY NIGHT and Shimmy Beach Club was packed!!! Yoh!

Arjun wrote to me a week before he got to Kenya saying he’s coming down for a gig and he hopes we get to connect. The idea was to land, get home, shower, change and head to Venom. Unfortunately or fortunately I fell seriously ill on the way back that there was no way I was going to the gig.

For those who know me, know I will party even when I’m in the worst of conditions, but honestly… knowing Venom and the crowd and just coming back from SA, there was no way I was ruining my entire experience over that.

Anyway… My point is, we’re so boxed in and petty, it’s horrible.

If it’s only taken me one trip, that too to South Africa, to open my eyes and see how different life can be and how things aren’t even supposed to be… What’s gonna happen when I land in Europe or the UK or the U.S?

Fact is – I don’t see myself living in Kenya for the rest of my life. Not at this rate.

We’re too boxed in.

One thought on “Are We Boxed In?

  1. Hi Sadia, while I agree with a lot of what you say my take on nosiness by neighbours (friends) is slightly different. While majority of neighbours are just plain nosy in your business there are a few that are nosy because they care and want to do something about it. Look at how we live in Kenya, if it was not for that ‘nosiness’ in time of calamity, disaster, loss it is the same neighbours who rally behind us and support us in our time of need because they know us so closely and know what would help. Go a place where neighbours hardly know each other and you will not find the same warmth and help that we experience in Kenya

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