As my time in Kenya draws to a close I look back to the incredible moments I have experienced whilst cycling through this country for the last week. I am writing from a little chilled out campsite on the shores of Lake Victoria, as I recover from a knee injury. This first blog post is not so much an account of what has happened so far, but more of a reflection on a couple of memorable experiences I have had. I will be publishing some articles about the day to day parts of the trip as well. I hope you enjoy this read. This blog post has been inspired by an audio book I have been listening to whilst riding, entitled 'Digital Minilinism'.
"ey ey mzungu mzungu, how are you? How are you?"
These are the words that come out of every Kenyan child's mouth when you cycle past them. Mzungu translates as 'white man' and funnily enough you begin to respond to 'white man' as it almost replaces your own name. As a matter of fact I think I have even referred to myself as mzungu in various conversations with locals. However, being labelled as mzungu came as no surprise to me after passing through the first rural village during day 1 of cycling, where I was surrounded by a group of school kids who proceeded to try and rub my arms. I asked someone about what they were doing, and apparently they were trying to see if the pale skin is infact painted on or something! After the children's discovery that I was infact a genuine mzungu they began to laugh and joke in swahili and circle around me like I was some sort of alien. Reflecting on this moment, I cannot get my head around how surreal it felt. It was also very interesting to experience a society that obviously hasn't yet been enslaved by technology or swept up by the wrath of the Internet. These kids were probably between the ages of 5 and 12 and there was not a tablet or mobile device in sight. Compare them with 5-12 year old in your home country and most likely it's a different story. No sign of fortnite, no texting each other. Just smiles, laughter and talking face to face. (although my swahili isn't very good so they could have just been laughing and talking about the funny looking mzungu infront of them. When the camera came out for 'selfie' time, the kids again looked at this alien machine that would freeze a moment in time and show it back to you.
Photo attempt 2 - after the kids realised they could view themselves making funny faces :)
So what do I mean by 10,000km apart? Well Kenya is around 10,000km in distance away from the United Kingdom. But after meeting these kids and many other kids alike, it lead me to feeling like we may as well live 1,000,000km away, because our lives are so different in terms of the digital era. But the question I am asking myself and I leave for you to think about is putting aside health and economy who is living a more 'sociable' life? Its certainly a subject that interests me, and has been a big life lesson meeting these kids.