Comedy critic Kate Copstick flew to Kenya two days ago, where she runs the Mama Biashara charity (website currently down). When there, she lives in the slums of Nairobi. She flew from London via Brussels. Here is her own description of the trip from Brussels.
I board a flight (via Kigali) dedicated, it seems, to the all-Africa final of Which Small Child Can Scream The Loudest? The breadth of the whistling, bawling, clicking, brrrrring, squeaking, howling and retching catalogue of noises is mind-blowing.
I watch Inside Out (the animated movie) and feel my own little red furry man stirring; I watch the new Marvels Adventures of Super Agents of Robert Downey Jnr; I play endless, endless games of solitaire and when you have to do that with the pseudo jazz sound loop up full you know you are in trouble.
The fat, bubble-blowing, wheezing, moaning baby beside me gets off at Kigali to be replaced by Africa’s Largest Woman. The drinks trolley comes round. I crack and get a vodka.
All goes surprisingly well at immigration and customs in Nairobi. For reasons too tortuous to detail, my small slum palace is still there but not available to me. The Lovely Margaret has agreed to give me another space in the compound.
I wanted the old shosho’s house by the gate, but Doris and Margaret have, Doris tells me, found me someplace better – which turns out to be a 7ft by 15ft space opening onto the main road. With a huge steel door bolted top and bottom. And a side door into the compound. By the time I and my bags are in, there is no floor space. There is electricity but no water (which you get from a stand pipe fairly close by). The mattress (on a pallet… a sort of futon) is hilarious. It seems to be knee-jerk short term memory foam.
I lie on my side and immediately create a hollow where my (larger than I had imagined) hip was. When I lie on my back, I am balancing on either side of the hollow. I can hear rats scurrying around outside and get up quickly to check for holes in the wall. I really don’t mind rats, but not when I am more or less sleeping on the floor. I find no holes.
I sleep after reading a copy of The Nairobian featuring an hilarious story about a group of government officials who put in an invoice stating that they had bought 10 wheelbarrows for a civic project… and paid in the region of £12,000. They are now claiming the devil made them do it.
Welcome to Kenya !