Tis the Season to Leave Nairobi

Goodness, gracious. I’ve been busy. Albeit, not American-busy, as I do sleep and eat. God, do I eat. Yet, compared to the first few weeks, I’ve now found projects to keep myself occupied. I’ve been here for three and-a-half months, but I don’t deserve bragging rights yet. When I reach six months, you better believe I’m celebrating. When I reach a year? Oo-ee! Oh… right. New information. I plan to be here for one to three years, which was the pre-arrival plan. But don’t hold me to it. Every day, I change my mind about how long I’d like to stay.

Parking lot: Didja know that ex-exchange students are prone to becoming bipolar? They can become such different personalities in their home and host countries that they develop the disorder. So, if I’ve called three countries home— the States, Germany, and Kenya— am I at risk of becoming tripolar? Not bad, for a Tr3. #ZetaReference 😉

Anyway. Everyone back home keeps asking me when I’m coming back. To them, I ask this: when will you visit me, dear friend? My closest friends and family say they can’t afford to visit me. That is exactly my issue as well. I’m officially living off my credit card. So, I’ll come when I come. And I promise to let you know as soon as I do. For now, I plan to stay as long as my contract allows.

Ah, the job situation. I realize my last written post sounded pessimistic. After many tears and conversations, I decided that it ain’t about the money, honey. I declined the paid editing job in order to finish my A24 internship. Producing and presenting this new fashion show is a dream job. I’d like to do similar work for the rest of my life. I want to be an intelligent and articulate on-air personality for a culturally savvy show. Right now, I love my multifarious role because I’m allowed a huge say about content and presentation. I delegate tasks to others, like Mike, an incredible intern whose editing skills have wowed me. Speaking of wow, I’ve purposely kept the show’s title from you. It hasn’t been released yet, so we’ve been using “Wow” as a code name.

Mike and I finished editing the pilot on November 25th. The Wow baby was born on my birthday! It’s a fashion show, so whenever we joke about that, I picture a smiling baby with long eyelashes wearing a glittery bow. And with each episode, it should grow into an amazing and inspiring TV program. That Monday, we presented it to our CEOs, COO, and head of finance. Our important audience loved the show and requested a trailer for potential sponsors. We’ve distributed it to many and have met with one so far. Good things are happening. It’s going down in 2012!

About the payment situation? Things are looking up. I must still finish my three-month internship. After January 10th, I should be getting paid for my current company roles. I’ve also been producing stories for Africa Journal, the company’s pride. I’d started a story about rhinos, but another intern took over once I became busy with the other show. Lenny said I should focus on that.

However, in order to have two weeks off for Christmas, future AJ episodes needed to be completed. So, I was assigned a story on Adé Bantu, a sexy Nigerian-German musician and activist. No, I didn’t include the sexy part. That was already apparent in the footage. Duh! Anyway. We managed to finish all shows preceding January 7th, and I’m drinking a beer at Valencia Gardens at 4pm on a Tuesday. I’m on holiday! And besides being homesick, I couldn’t be happier.

Valencia Gardens is a special place. My boyfriend, Kevin, lives next door; and I live just a street away. This is our convenient meeting place. It has a huge garden, hence the name, and the staff doesn’t suck—which is a big deal for this country, where customer service doesn’t exist and neither do my tips.

I also celebrated my birthday here. Ishirini na Tatu, or 23 in Swahili, was a mediocre event. As mentioned, I spent the day at the office. In the evening, about 20 people came to the restaurant. Apparently we went dancing afterward, but I don’t remember. 23-too-many shots. Just kidding, kind of. But the birthday was fine. Certainly not my best birthday (nothing can top my 16th in Germany), and not even my favorite day in Kenya. But to glimpse the festivities, and my office tour, check out this Facebook video.

The Sunday after my birthday, some friends and I went to Nanyuki for Blankets and Wine, a monthly concert typically held in Nairobi. Exhausted from my birthday, I wasn’t going to come until I discovered that Kevin would be performing. I’m officially his groupie for having gone just to see him. But the man is amazing. He was on Tusker Project Fame, Kenya’s version of American Idol. Remember when I almost worked for that soap opera? Well, we met on set that day. And, uh, things have progressed nicely. He lived in the States for six years, so whenever I make a reference to something as specific as Trader Joes, he gets me. We foreigners really hold onto those connections. I was initially apprehensive to announce our relationship because what do I look like but some Antiguan-American lady who goes to Kenya and falls in love? But I promise not to come home engaged this time. Although, Kevin does want to move back to the States sooner than later. And I’m pretty sure I’ve made Minneapolis sound like the coolest city on Earth. We’ll see what the future holds…

Oh, I ended up in the paper again.

Back in Nairobi, I managed to renew my visa for three more months. I also made a friend at immigration! Sydney is from New Mexico but currently works at a hospital in rural Kenya. I told her about my hardships with pursuing media in the capital city, and she told me she lives in a tent, has delivered a baby outside, and was recently stung by a scorpion. We chatted in line and, by the end of the two-hour process, the staff thought we were lifelong friends. They even took our fingerprints together. It’s not everyday you bond with an American tent girl at immigration. So, we agreed to keep in touch. We’re actually meeting tomorrow in Machakos, a town two hours from where she lives. It’s the nearest place she can get goods like wine and chocolate. Bless.

I tend to latch onto Americans. One day, moments after I got into a taxi, a man approached the window and said, “Oops, I didn’t realize someone was in there. I’ll find another one.” Before I even knew where he was going, I told him to get in the car! He was the first and only black American I’ve met in this country. So, we split the cab and exchanged stories. I haven’t seen him since, but hearing his accent for just 20 minutes in traffic was enough to bring me back home.

James “Noggz” Kamawe also does that for me. He’s the friend I mentioned in my last video post who’s Kenyan but has lived in Atlanta for the past 10 years. I call him my freelancing manager because he constantly finds projects for me to do independently or for his company, Circle Group Entertainment. Our first was a video for the Kenya International Film Festival. We then filmed and edited a church choir competition. To see what freelancing in Kenya in like, watch this silly video! We’re currently working on a Kenyan Hip-Hop documentary. We even went to Diani Beach, near Mombasa, Kenya to film an underground concert. I’m no expert, but that was the best rap I’ve ever heard.

‎”Dusty-footed… how long shall i be blinded with days governed by local brew?
N cast my future on false hopes n promises of CHANGE.
My thirst, my fight for common mans RIGHT,
can only be quenched by a calabash FULL of better-days-waters.”

Hustlajay, Mombasa

So, James and I are having fun while hustling. He says, “Everybody wants a house that’s already been built. Nobody wants to build their own.” I’m going to miss him when he goes back in February.

Greetings from the Coast!

Wellp, that’s the mammoth post. But first, one more thing: I drove a car in Kenya! On the left side! Ah, but besides avoiding recurring potholes and flipping on the wipers instead of the turn signals, it was great!

Thanks for reading,

Kiya

READ: http://www.kiyainkenya.wordpress.com
WATCH: http://www.kiyaedwards.tumblr.com
HELP: http://www.gofundme.com/kiyagoestokenya

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One thought on “Tis the Season to Leave Nairobi

  1. Friends at immigration! Truly great friends to have. 🙂 Jessica at Migracion y Extrajeria in San Salvador saved my ass on a couple of different occasions last year. (Bless her soul.)

    I’m so glad to hear that things are going well and picking up. Have a beautiful Christmas and New Year! Peace.

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