TCB’s Miscellaneous Ramblings

Posted on June 27th, 2017
Categories: News

 Travel advisories are the bane of most developing nations, Kenya being no exception. Always viewed from inside the countries as ‘over-the-top’ with no clear vision and a way to pump the danger allowances for embassy staff based in said country. Viewed by the cretins that impose these advisories it is simply a way of protecting their citizens and making them aware of the dangers they perceive exist in said country. If they didn’t tell and something terrible happened they would be held to book, an I-told-you-so is a much better way of protecting ones rear-end.

None of this is news I know, but leads to my next story.

‘The European Parliament has voted to end visa-free travel for Americans within the EU. It comes after the US failed to agree visa-free travel for citizens of five EU countries – Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania – as part of a reciprocity agreement. US citizens can normally travel to all countries in the bloc without a visa’. (source The Independent)

This is no pithy travel advisory, this is very serious business. The numbers are staggering. 27.4 million American tourists visited Europe in 2016, with a spend in the billions of dollars (source statista). The US Visa Waiver Program for EU citizens is now expected to be scrapped in retaliation, which will negatively impact the impressive numbers of EU tourists visiting the US. Already down 12% (source forbes.com) affected mostly by uncertainty from the many Trump pronouncements on travel restrictions.

Add to this the laptop, electronic device ban from certain countries into the US (and less so into the UK) – which are now strongly tipped to be expanded to ALL flights into the US from wherever, in the very near future. Note: Flights from the US are not affected.

Some airlines such as Qatar Airways, Turkish, Emirates and Etihad offer an array of options to satisfy your electronic device ban withdrawals. Some supply replacement laptops or tablets on departure to all passengers, some just to premium passengers. Watching movies ho-hum. ‘How you can you get bored on our flights’ said one enthusiastic airline rep. We have over 300 movies onboard.’

You do indeed, but a lot are rubbish I replied. The never-say-die rep then said ‘Out of 300 surely you can find a few.’ Let me try I replied, maybe a free ticket to wherever might be an idea, so I can see for myself. Waiting for the phone to ring is a tedious task, but I live in hope.

What’s this world coming to?

We Kenyans need visas to almost everywhere so we are used to the application and demeaning vetting regime that goes with it. The visa application process is an undignified exercise, questions-questions and then even more meaningless questions. Bank statements and certificates of good conduct. ‘Do you want to live in my country?’ ‘No, I love Kenya, my life, my family are here.’ They are never convinced.

I can just imagine all these so-called first worlder’s applying for visas, something most of them have never done, they will tire and stay home, or hopefully visit Kenya where our visa regime for westerners is slick with not that many questions asked.

A local hotel group just sent me an email of their availability in the period June – August and I was surprised almost staggered to see most dates in the Mara sold out, ditto northern Kenya. At the coast it was a very different story. The best beaches in the world lie idle, devoid of any tourists.

You’ll have noticed in the News section of this edition Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary Tourism telling all the movers and shakers of the UK’s tourism industry, that Kenya’s tourism marketing budget has increased three-fold to US$15 million per annum. I’m yet to see any evidence of this spend in our key source markets. Iko wapi?

This edition is all about lots of news and far to many book reviews I’ll agree, and only one real meaty story and it’s not even about Kenya. Seems that with the northern summer tourism boom (I use those word advisably) means there is no room at the inn for our team of writers, to well, write great stories about the very best of Kenya.

We’ll work around that going forward.

Uganda is taking advantage, that’s what that meaty article is about, in attempting to lure Kenyans to visit Uganda during our election period.

Looks pretty tempting to me, at anytime of the year for that matter.

The airport map shown earlier in this edition, has only one real change, that of the multi-story car park that became an international arrivals terminal after the fire, now getting its life back. I’m not sure if is open as we speak, but from what I saw last week it is pretty close to it. Which will no doubt relieve a lot of the parking issues at JKIA.

For the latest edition of Travel News, please click here http://www.travelnewskenya.travel/#folio=1

 

 

 

 

Looking for Alice? Look no further!

Posted on June 21st, 2017
Categories: News

Originally written in 1865 by mathematician Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is a tale of a young girl falling down a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by cryptic and crazy creatures; the story has survived many decades and seen many adaptations. This year, The Academy of Dance and Art are proud to present Nairobi with ‘Looking for Alice‘! Follow the running rabbit and hop, skip and jump your way into our Wonderland…filled with curious curtsying cats, lizards leaping over ladders, tiny twirling teapots, collections of contracting caterpillars and beware of the rotten Red Queen! Let’s look for Alice and help her find herself!

The show is not all ballet – it comprises of musical theatre and gymnastics and there is also singing, showcasing all aspects of Performing Arts.  The wonderful Davina Leonard will be the narrator. This promises to be a superb show – enjoy!

 

 

Finding your own happy by Africa Expat Wives Club

Posted on June 20th, 2017
Categories: News

 Expat life. Finding your own happy…

Expat life uproots and unsettles us. Friendships prove to be transient as people move on and it hurts that family are far away. As migrants, we often question if and when to go ‘home’ but in the meantime, it’s important to be happy.

Life can throw out more than a few curve balls. You may not be exactly where you thought you’d be, or doing what you had imagined and your circumstances may not sit well with you at a given time but whatever the situation, it’s important to find your own happy.

Horrific events in London over the past weeks put day-to-day life in sharp focus and remind me of the dreadful Westgate mall attack here in Nairobi in 2013. During the aftermath of Westgate we heard of threats of terror attacks weekly, even daily, mostly via anonymous SMS/text messages that were circulating like wildfire. Don’t go to the mall, don’t sit in traffic jams, school buses will targeted, attacks are imminent. You barely wanted to hear the news for fear of hearing of the next atrocity in Kenya (the Garissa University attack etc). Life changed. Shopping centres are now surrounded by steel rings. We have our car doors and boots opened and our handbags searched when popping in to do our weekly supermarket shop.

There’s a certain amount of added risk related to living in Nairobi anyway with the common threat of armed break-ins or carjacking, meaning that going out after dark (particularly alone) takes an extra dose of courage, but this shouldn’t cow us into submission. The disparity of wealth is still heart-breaking and I haven’t even got onto ill health!

Just last week, our house helper got ill with bronchitis, the chap who was once our askari contacted us to say he had TB and needed help urgently, food prices have skyrocketed for basic commodities which is affecting people badly (there is still no maize flour in the shops) and the prospect of yet another presidential election on August 8th doesn’t bode well. Still deeply scarred from the 2007 election crisis in Kenya, we’ve already seen land related troubles brewing in Laikipia. Apparently rippling discontent comes with the territory around election time but we keep hopeful of a peaceful outcome.

A lot of the above has not affected me directly but it does make me feel fortunate. I’m the lazy type who likes to get swept along by life so have to remind myself to appreciate each day (rather than, as an expat, worrying and second guessing what future might lie in store). So in this spirit, I signed up for an evening art course (we giggle, muddle and drink wine – our teacher is very patient), I go to the gym regularly and relish having coffee with friends (even when there’s work waiting at home). I sit in the sun when it peeps out just for 5 minutes to soak up some rays (it’s cold season here so a bit overcast) and I thank goodness that the family is all well. We need to find our own ‘happy’ in the small things. Who knows what life might throw at us next?

Check out other interesting articles on http://africaexpatwivesclub.com/

  • Returning Home – BBC, The Why Factor. Interesting discussion on the migrants’ yearn to go home that is almost built into our DNA, the ‘myth of return’ (or intending to return but not quite making it), plus the reality of returning home. 30%-50% of migrants do go home.
  • Be useful. Be kind.” Advice from Barack Obama.
  • Have 3 types of hobbies: 1 to make you money, 1 to keep you in shape, and one that allows you to be creative.
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FROM THE MOUTHPIECE

Posted on May 16th, 2017
Categories: News

FROM THE MOUTHPIECE – ON HOUSES AND HOUSE HUNTING

It is 2006. Our lovely Landlord has tragically passed away and the family offer us first refusal to buy the 3 bed bungalow we are renting on ¾ acres in Kileleshwa. The asking price is Ksh 5 million. Ridiculous, huff my boyfriend and I, why would we ever spend such a ludicrous sum on an old house? Hindsight is a marvelous thing – pre marriage and school we could have stretched to buying the property – these days it is a large block of flats, and whoever sold the land to the developer never needed to rent again. But not armed with said marvelous hindsight, we set out house hunting.

 House #1. “Hello, is this James?” “Yes madam this is James”. “James I saw you advertise a 3 bedroomed house for rent in Lavington for Ksh 80,000 p.m. Is it still available?” “Yes madam when do you want to see it?” “James can you tell me where in Lavington this house is?” “It is, ah, it is near the Police Station.” “Which Police Station?” “James Gichuru, it is just there on Manyani Rd East”. “Ok great lets go see it”. James and myself eventually find each other at a shopping centre parking lot, he is only 45 minutes late, and we set off. Another 20 minutes later: “James, where the h*#k is this property, we are nearly in Kangemi?!”

House #3 “Hi Peter can I view the 3 bed property you have in Lavington?” “Yes madam”. “Can we meet at 4 pm?” Yes madam but kindly you must pick me”. “Where are you Peter?” “I am in town”.

House #8 “David you are meant to be showing me a 3 bed bungalow for Ksh 75,000 p.m. Why have we seen a 4 bed double story house for Ksh 110,000 p.m. and a hovel I wouldn’t put my dogs in for Ksh 60,000??”

House #14 “Adam, I told you I need a property which is available NOW. There are people here. There are removals boxes here. I think these people have only just moved in!” “Sorry madam the landlord didn’t tell me the house has gone”.

House #23 “Michael, WHERE ARE THE KEYS?? I did not come here to admire the garden!!!”

House #34 “John, you clearly are not an agent for this property, seeing as the Askari won’t even let us in the gate”.

We end up living in a massive 5 bedroomed double story mansion in Karen, way out of budget and desired geographical location. Our Economic Housing Group dining table for 6 looks strangely out of place in the dining room, which is the size of a ballroom, and I can only afford curtains for the bedrooms. At least we have a home – for now.

If you would like avoid similar experiences, contact us for a list of reliable estate agents who won’t lead you down the garden path, literally!

David Delivers at Nothing Like It

Posted on April 18th, 2017
Categories: News

I was lucky to be given the opportunity to try out the new Stylist at Nothing Like it Salon & Spa in Hardy last week. David is young, trendy, and above all, terribly nice. Do not let his “quirky” English fool you – David knows what he’s doing, especially in the cutting department. My haircut took 45 minutes with absolute attention to detail and a lovely end result. David’s talents go above and beyond hair styling though – he is also a tattoo artist, does fabulous nail art, and gives an amazing Vietnamese foot massage! I left the Salon 3 1/2 hours later with great highlights, a funky new haircut, and feeling like a million bucks!

 Photo of happy customer with David

The two branches of Nothing Like It (Karen Shopping Centre above KPS and 2nd floor Hardy Shopping Centre) offer comprehensive hair and beauty treatments for ladies, gentlemen and children. From Theravine facials and hot stone massages to waxing and gel manicures, you will find it all in these two classy establishments, along with a complimentary glass of wine on a Friday.

Relax, unwind, be pampered – there is Nothing Like It!

Book your appointment on 0721 834577 / 0734 860775 Karen Spa, or 0726 543977 / 0737 599695 Hardy Spa.

TCB’S Miscellaneous Ramblings

Posted on April 4th, 2017
Categories: News

 Everyone keeps asking me about the state of play in Kenya tourism. As a born optimist I tend not listen to stories of gloom and doom but instead look for the bright light at the end of the tunnel. I’m now told reliably there is no bright light. One of the best coasts in the world with its award winning beaches lies virtually empty. With the beaches empty, the hotels struggle to survive. Kenya’s coast is or was all about mass tourism, with large numbers of package holidaymakers arriving on charter flights from Europe directly into Mombasa. Today few still operate, even those that do, with vastly reduced capacity. Our safari destinations to the best game parks and reserves in the world are bereft of tourists. In times of plenty particularly during the migration, deals can still be had, something not previously experienced. Resident rates abound. Local so-called domestic tourism is growing but at a very slow pace, it need impetus driven by the Kenya Tourist Board. Today not tomorrow. Conference tourism if it can be called that is propping up the Kenyan hotel industry. But it is exceptionally price sensitive, with unbelievable deals to be had. From a tourism perspective Kenya is simply not on any western countries radar right now. We are simply not front-of-face, an oft repeated retort to my saying I’m from Kenya is “That’s not a very safe place is it?’ The simple answer to that is that it is a safe travel destination. We need to change perceptions such as this and this is all about promoting the destination and not simply relying on National Geographic or Animal Planet to generate interest. Our tourist board with its new leader needs to start dishing-the-dosh, with advertising and marketing campaigns across our proven source markets. There was talk some years ago of combining all that is Kenya into a shop-front; in for example London, New York and so on. Come in for a tea or coffee; see what Kenya has to offer from a broad range of perspectives to include obviously tourism. A public-private partnership enterprise. What happened to that? Like another prominent promoter of tourism to Kenya, I choose to remain optimistic – but I’d like a little help from my government. Promote, promote, promote – it is the only way to turn the tide. One of the great promoters of Kenya tourism was recently photographed onboard a flight from London wearing a surgical mask. The ‘Man in the Iron Mask’ came to mind. He had this to say on a recent FaceBook post: I flew back to Nairobi last night. Some airlines, including British Airways, are now spraying passengers with insecticide on flights INTO Nairobi as well as out. The sprays contain toxic chemicals. Phenothrin or synthetic pyrethroids, which are neurotoxins are routinely used for “disinsection”. Reported symptoms after breathing in the spray include acute respiratory and sinus problems, rash/ hives, headache, and anaphylactic shock, as well as chronic immune, respiratory, and neurological problems. With little ventilation and in such a closed space, spraying pesticides on airplanes while passengers are still on board does not seem a good idea, particularly for sensitive groups like children, pregnant mothers, and the wazee like me! A friend of his added to the post: There is no evidence justifying this very superficial fumigation process. It used to be done in Australia, now discontinued. Suggest a campaign of class action or similar vs. airlines doing this. Very toxic and entirely unnecessary. Masks will not help with skin contact and these chemicals/fumigants require activated charcoal respirators, not ‘masks’. Now that’s a worrying story for all of us. A response to our last edition asked the question why we made no mention of the situation in Laikipia with illegal herders invading ranches and game conservancies. Sometimes violently, loss of life followed, An inept government response which was a longtime coming hardly stemmed the tide. Ironically it was the international press that brought this situation to the top of our governments to-do list. It must be pretty embarrassing to be told by a reporter in London that you have a problem just down the road. Onward & upward…..

Click below to read the latest edition of Travel News:

http://www.travelnewskenya.travel/#folio=1

Top 10 things you learn when you move to Kenya

Posted on February 8th, 2017
Categories: News

Unfamiliar with Kenyan Cowboys? No idea where to live in Nairobi and clueless about the local slang? Here are some top tips for expats

rhinos kenya

On every safari, trip to the coast or evening in, there is a frantic rush to make a cocktail and watch that famous African sunset with awe Photo: Tony Karumba/AFP
Having lived in several different countries growing up, with family roots stretching back to England, I can’t imagine living anywhere else in the world but Kenya. It’s a country that captures you when you arrive and never really leaves you. I have seen countless friends come and go: those whose families work for the UN, NGOs and embassies who can only stay as long as their posting allows, new families and budding entrepreneurs. I have watched as they try to adapt to the country, seen their exasperation as things happen very slowly and I have seen them never want to leave when the time comes.

Although Kenya is a great place to live, I’m the first to admit that it’s not the easiest country to get to grips with. It’s a huge learning curve, but embrace the cultural differences and you will soon find yourself calling everyone brother or sister.

Here, in my opinion, are the top lessons you will learn from living here:

It’s not always a sunny paradise

Having lived for a time in Limuru, one of the coldest parts, I have walked around in full ski gear complete with gloves and hat. But don’t worry – torrential rain only happens in the rainy season.

Having a work / life balance really is possible

Many people who move to Kenya go with the sole reason of setting up their own business, my family included. And why wouldn’t you? There is plenty of opportunity, the economy is on the up (being the strongest and largest in East Africa) and there are people everywhere willing to help and invest. Make sure you do your background research before going into business with anyone – just to be on the safe side.

Moving to Kenya will make you very aware of the importance of wildlife conservation (SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images)

Your sense of humour will increase tenfold

Trust me – after hours of haggling to get the best price for your vegetables, only to get home and watch your local pishi (cook) have hysterics over how much you paid for them, the laughter will start. You’ll also need a sense of humour if you expect something to be done by a certain deadline, as you will probably find yourself still waiting six months later.

You will become a beach snob

Whether you find yourself in Diani, Watamu, Kilifi, Malindi or Lamu, you will be ankle deep in soft white sand with palm trees and empty beaches surrounding you. And the best thing? You can fly there in an hour from Nairobi. After spending weeks on the Kenyan coast, an all-inclusive package deal to Malaga will never seem appealing again.

You will start to refer to yourself as Kenyan, regardless of what it says on your passport

The Kenyans themselves will have this effect on you; they are a very gentle, kind and helpful race of people. Kenya is still very tribal in its ways, with certain tribes living and dominating certain areas, and the longer you live there the easier it will be to spot the differences.

You’ll also be introduced to a rare breed of people called the KCs (standing for Kenyan Citizens but they call themselves Kenyan Cowboys). They are Caucasians who have been born and brought up in Kenya and are usually of British decent. If you are unsure of how to spot one of these strange and mysterious humans, they spend their days wondering around in flip-flops, kikoy trousers (very brightly coloured) and will always have a Tusker (Kenyan beer) in their hand.

Expats in Africa earn most, but work world’s longest hours

Expat stereotypes: Jack the Kenyan Cowboy

Expat in Kenya: my school run along the road to nowhere

You will realise just how important conservation is

If you don’t like animals then perhaps this country isn’t for you. Yes you’ll have cats and dogs roaming around but chances are you’ll also find yourself with a troop of monkeys or a family of bush babies setting up home in your garden. But more than that, you are living in the country which is home to some of the world’s most amazing animals who sadly are under threat.

You are either a Land Rover or a Land Cruiser person

This is non-negotiable and people will look at you suspiciously if you say you have no preference (imagine your reaction if someone said that they were neither here nor there when it comes to Marmite – preposterous). The reason for this is simple: safaris. There is an ongoing debate as to which car is better to take bundu bashing (off-road driving). So if I were you, I would pick a car and defend it to your death, you will be respected for it. Personally I’m all for the Land Cruisers.

Where you live in the capital, Nairobi is directly related to your social circle (SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images)

The meaning of the words jua kali

Unfortunately there is no direct translation for this in English; in a nutshell it’s the general term used for work done on the side of the road by manual labour. A prime example of this would be if something goes wrong with your car and you are miles from anywhere save a tiny African village in the distance. Chances are there is someone there who will be able to fix your car, albeit temporarily.

Where you choose to live as an expat directly relates to your social circle

There are two obvious choices of living areas as an expat settling in Nairobi: Karen or Westlands. Karen is usually where you find the old-timers and the families who have been around for years, whereas Westlands boasts a more diverse community being the area of choice for the United Nations and the American Embassy. I would personally pick Westlands, but then again I am a little biased as I live there.

Sundowners are a way of life

On every safari, trip to the coast or evening in, there is a frantic rush to make either the staple Kenyan cocktail called a dawa (Swahili for medicine, although the main ingredient is vodka) or grab a cold beer from the fridge and dash outside to watch that famous African sunset.

Whether you decide to come out here for work, family or fancy a challenge, the country has an enormous amount to offer you. Although you will no doubt be frustrated time and time again over the way the country works, more often than not you will just take a deep breath, have a little chuckle to yourself and start to plan your next trip to the coast.

Amy Shaw runs the lifestyle blog Global PawPrints (globalpawprints.blogspot.co.uk)

Miscellaneous Ramblings by TCB

Posted on February 2nd, 2017
Categories: News

TCB

A small niggle, but a growing one that I need to share.

Coming out into traffic from a Java Coffee House recently, I was harassed by a white Land Cruiser with red number plates. The traffic was heavy; he’d have to wait his turn. Then with blaring siren and red and blue flashing lights he made his case to push-in, I then made my car as wide as possible, as one does. Mounting the curb, and missing me by inches away he went.

Well, I’m assuming it was a he; these armoured Land Cruisers have a heavy tint on the windows so you cannot see the driver or the occupants.

This same lot, run a convoy system of at least of two to three vehicles, with sirens a blaring and lights a flashing, without regard for the rules of our Kenyan roads. If there was a Kenyan police escort perhaps I could accept this behaviour, but there never is. Who do they think they are?

Can you imagine our Ambassador in Washington DC behaving in this manner?

On a similar subject a new Embassy near the UN compound, has built three huge speed bumps outside its premises. In retaliation perhaps our Ambassador in Rome could do the same. I don’t think the Romans would allow it, so why should we?

The Kenyan business and tourism fraternities no doubt welcomed the recent announcement by Emirates, increasing their flights to/from Nairobi with an additional daily flight.

More businessmen and women, more tourists, more cargo capacity for our horticultural exports, more of everything really. After granting permission the Minister of Transport has done an about turn and told Emirates that he has withdrawn permission to operate the additional daily flight. A similar scenario to Qatar Airways wanting to fly into Mombasa in 2015.

While a number of meek excuses have been offered by said Ministry of Transport the bottom line in this writer’s humble opinion is protectionism plain and simple. In that this action protects the governments interest in Kenya Airways, albeit that it only holds a 25% shareholding.

Why sacrifice the prosperity of a nation and its people for a minority stake in a failed enterprise?

You don’t grow a nation by using protectionist policies such as this.

Emirates is the worlds largest international airline, their reach is massive, they fly from almost everywhere on this planet of ours to Dubai and from Dubai to almost everywhere else. Kenya Airways in turn has minimal international reach; at last count less than 10 international destinations outside of the African continent.

Kenya has lost out again to shortsighted inward thinking.

The beaches of Kenya were at their very best over the festive season, my family and I holidayed as we always do in the village of Watamu on the north-coast.

We chose to drive, and as much of a pain as it is, we arrived safe and sound taking all of 7-hours southbound and 9-hours on the return to Tigoni.

Those who ridiculed our driving plan and flew instead suffered at the hands of Jambojet (see editorial page 10). Many friends flying home from Malindi ended up being bussed to Mombasa, which generally took an uncomfortable 4-hours, for their flight to Nairobi. All taking more time than our drive-times above. Those further up the coast in Lamu, had an unimaginable 12-hour bus trip to Mombasa, some in the dead of night.

Oceans Sports at Watamu is hallowed ground for a lot of Kenyans. It sits on the best beach in the whole wide world, and in days gone by was where a lot of us grew up, literally. Some still are, growing-up that is. I have often derided OS over the past few years for not getting its act together, always running out of cold beer, dreadful service, dodgy food and over the holidays a coupon system that drives me crazy.

Well, I’m happy to report that except for the dreaded coupon system all is good at OS, actually it’s very good. New Years Eve always a right of passage was this year limited in numbers and evidently enjoyed by all, only to be usurped by their New Years Day party.

What a party, all the good and the great were there, the best chat ever, the beer ice-cold, the food excellent, the music fabulous – and best of all you could see everybody!

We stayed in the grandly named Directors Cottages right behind and part of the Turtle Bay Beach Resort – not to be confused to the similarly named villas across the road. Brand new, with 4-bedrooms and their own pool – with direct beach access through the Resort. We’ve booked for next year, they were that good.

One last parting shot of all things Watamu, the Hemingway’s sea wall. It’s not a pretty sight but they are rebuilding it with very posh scientifically thought through building blocks. So while it is intended to ‘fit in’ I still have a big problem with it. At high tide, in December when they are at their lowest, you cannot walk in front of the resort with the waves crashing against the new sea wall.

What this will be like with the big spring tides of July and August I can’t imagine.

While Hemingway’s is rebuilding they allow passage through their property, which is a nice gesture – never to miss an opportunity you are handed a sales brochure of what it will all be like when finished later this year. But given past experience, given that Hemingway’s terms itself as an exclusive resort, I don’t see this right-of-way continuing once the resort is finished. So, what to do?

February-March 2017 Cover

To read the latest edition of Travel news, please click here: http://www.travelnewskenya.travel/#folio=1

Moving here? What to expect from Kenya Schools.

Posted on January 25th, 2017
Categories: News

Moving here

Moving here? What to expect from Kenya schools – by Africa Expat Wives Club

Worried about what to expect from schools in Kenya? Hopefully everything you need to know is in this post – an unofficial guide to schools in Kenya.

It’s a primary concern when considering any overseas move. What are the schools like there? Will they have space for my kids? What are the costs?  In Kenya, a expect a culturally diverse pupil body and an outdoorsy school experience for your kids with plenty of field sports and fun. Apologies if you already know all of this but this post is ‘by popular demand’ from readers who are thinking of moving here. Enjoy this (unofficial) good school guide.

Fees. (Costs per term. There are 3 terms per year).

  1. Kindergarten:  expect to pay between 200,000 – 300,000 Kenya shillings per term (£1,600-2,400/$1,925-2,890) for ages 2-5. There is usually a sliding scale as your child gets older and attends more regularly, then you pay more. Younger children can opt to only attend for 3 mornings per week, moving toward a full day in reception year (age 5).
  2. Primary: Expect to pay between 450,000 – 550,000 Kenya shillings per term (£3,600-4,400/$4,330-$5,300) for years 2-8 (age 6-13). Again, a sliding scale on fees may be in place according to age.
  3. Secondary: Expect to pay 550,000 – 600,000 per term for secondary schools (£4,400-5,200/$5,300-5,775), years 9-13 (age 14-18)

Note: This fee guideline does not apply to the International School Kenya (ISK). Their fees slide up from $16,000 (for kindergarten) to $29,000 (for secondary) per year, plus a one off deposit for entry of $8,700 per pupil.

Facilities – What to expect.

  • Facilities are generally good. Classrooms are arranged around sports fields in a very outdoor-centric environment.  (wear sun cream daily January-March!)
  • A cooked lunch and snacks are included in the termly school fees.
  • Schools have well equipped IT centres, some have smart boards and many are moving toward kids working from ipads (from around 10 years of age). The onus is on parents to purchase school approved ipad models.
  • Schools will be equipped with a swimming pool, sports fields, tennis courts and a couple have astro pitches, though sports are played mainly on grass.
  • Indoor assembly hall.

on_rl__kiiu-chris-chondrogiannis

Sports (this mainly applies to primary/prep schools)

  • Sports are included in the school day, in addition ‘paid for’ extras are offered after or before school.
  • British curriculum schools will offer sports such as PE, hockey, cricket, rugby, tennis, swimming, netball, rounders and some football (on termly rotation) as part of every school day, or at least 4 days per week.
  • Teams are selected from each age group and matches fixtures against other schools during the school term. Some matches are played on home turf and others are away. Many parents go to watch the matches but schools also lay on transport for team members for ‘away’ matches. Occasionally matches take place outside Nairobi.
  • (Note that not every age group is represented by a team. In Kenya teams are selected jointly from x2 academic years for U9, U11 and U13 squads – normally, A, B and C teams)

tq7rtevezsy-clark-young

Extras and school trips

  1. After school extras might include: extra swimming and tennis lessons, music or art clubs, Tae Kwando, ballet, music lessons etc.
  2. In primary and secondary school, school trips are laid on both in Nairobi and further afield. Optional trips even take kids overseas (sports tours, ski trips, white water rafting, climbing Mount Kenya etc).
  3. Educational trips that form part of the curriculum are compulsory. Most carry an additional cost for parents to meet.
  4. There is no Saturday school but pupils are expected to participate in extra-curricular music concerts, sports matches and school trips upon invitation.
  5. Music lessons – general music education is provided as part of the school curriculum but learning individual instruments, singing lessons etc. Are provided by peripatetic staff who visit the school on particular days to give lessons, which is then a ‘paid for’ extra.
  6. Most schools have their own choirs, orchestra, bands etc. That your child may be asked to join.
  7. Activities that your child may want to pursue outside school are as follows: horse riding, dance etc.

 When choosing a school – Consider the commute!

  • Most school days begin at around 8am and finish at 3.45pm.
  • Keep in mind: Traffic in Nairobi can be hellish, so the majority enroll their children in schools near their home or en route to work in order to reduce commuting time. (We did a 5.30/6am commute for years and it nearly killed us all).
  • Some schools offer bus services from various neighbourhoods, either from a central meeting point or door-to-door but do consider how long your child will be sitting on the bus when making your choice.

Admissions Procedure

Do look around a few schools in order to make an informed choice and get a feel for atmosphere.

Schools may ask you to pay a registration fee and then will ask for a non-refundable deposit once a place is confirmed. Deposits vary from around 50,000 to 100,000/-.

If your child is leaving school, remember to give at least 1 term’s notice or you may be expect to pay a full term’s fee as penalty.

*Remember that when you first approach schools in Kenya, they may say that they do not have space, but don’t give up hope. It is worth joining a waiting list as spaces often open up when other expat families move on (the biggest moves taking place in June/July but others are at random times during the school year).

ietuye-b28a-daniel-watson

School Listings

Kenyan schools follow their own curriculum called the 8-4-4 system. Below I have focused on British and international curriculum schools.

Kindergartens:

There are quite a few small, homely, mama&papa style kindergartens and playgroups that operate independently. It’s worth looking around the area where you plan to live, searching Facebook etc. Children join kindergarten at any age between 18 months to 5 years. Please note that many of the primary schools listed in the following section also have well established kindergartens. Below is a list of kindergarten only:

Primary /Prep/Junior School – Years 2-8 (ages 6-13):

There’s a good choice of British curriculum primary schools in Nairobi. They are not all listed here but below are the ones that are often chosen by expat families moving to Nairobi. If you would like more information on other schools, then contact me in the comments section.

 British Curriculum:

American curriculum:

*There are also dedicated Dutch, German, French and Swedish schools in Nairobi.

Upcountry/boarding schools:

Secondary School – years 9-13 (ages 13-18):

Alternative curriculum:

 

Related Posts:Nativity Play in NairobiExpat family on leaveExpat Friends – where do I start?

Photo credits: Unsplash.com

 

NAIROBI JOINS WOMEN’S MARCH ON JANUARY 21ST

Posted on January 11th, 2017
Categories: News

womens_march_on_nairobi

Volunteers in Nairobi have organized a sister march inspired by the Women’s March on Washington on Saturday, January 21. The event is dubbed Women’s March on Nairobi and will take place at the Karura Forest, running simultaneously to the DC march beginning 10:00am.

The Women’s March was born out of Donald Trump’s divisive presidential campaign and the threat to a myriad of human rights that his presidency poses. Several high profile names have joined the Women’s March on Washington including Katy Perry, Scarlett Johansson, Cher, and Angelique Kidjo.

As well as the main march and sister marches in all American states, 55 other global cities on six continents will have grassroots-led marches on the day, from Tokyo to Sydney, Paris to Bogotá. And now Nairobi.

Each march will have its own program. The Nairobi chapter will stand together for the rights of women, ethnic minorities, refugee groups, immigrants of all statuses, people with diverse religious faiths, LGBTQIA, people with disabilities, the economically impoverished, and survivors of sexual assault.

This march is inclusive and all will be welcome. Join and be part of this momentous occasion that will surely go down in history. You can also follow the conversation and tweet using #WomensMarchNRB.

SNAKES AND BLUNDERS

Posted on November 30th, 2016
Categories: Uncategorized

snakesSNAKES AND BLUNDERS

The 10th Bio-Ken International Snakebite Seminar, Watamu

Published Daily Nation 29 November 2016

Useful Snake contacts in Kenya: 0718 290324 Bio-Ken Snake Farm www.bioken.com  www.antivenomtrust.com   www.snakebiteinitiative.org

13-year-old Menza Benjamin was picking up cashewnuts on the ground when he felt a burning hot bite on his leg followed by another. He started to vomit and broke out in a cold sweat. Close to his hut he fainted. He never saw the snake.

That was three years ago and he’s lucky to be alive, sitting at the snakebite seminar held in Watamu early November.

green mamba
Royjan and Boniface who had been called by these villagers to catch a snake in the roof of one of their huts. It was a green mamba. Royjan and Boniface took some time to talk to them and answer their questions. Picture copyright Royjan Taylor

What saved Menza was the speed with everything that followed. His uncle saw him and immediately put him on a pikipiki and took him 12 kilometers to the Bio-Ken Snake Farm.  By the time they reached the snake farm, the boy was already showing rapidly advancing symptoms of black mamba bite. He was rushed by car – along with a supply of suitable anti venom to the local private hospital where he was treated by the hospital’s founder, Dr. Erulu, also present at the seminar.

Black mambas are among the fastest and deadliest snakes in the world. A bite requires urgent urgent attention.

On the other hand, in May this year a farmer tilling his farm in Maungu near Voi was bitten and brought to Voi in a matatu by his relatives – a 30 minute drive. From the symptoms, the doctors pinned it down to a puff adder – again one of Africa’s most venomous snakes. He had been bitten on the middle finger.

The doctor administered an anti venom immediately. Despite this, the patient’s condition deteriorated. Another anti venom shot was administered. On the fourth day the patient died from severe internal bleeding.

On reviewing the file, it was realised that despite receiving two shots of anti venom, the patient died.

“It was a preventable death,” states the medic relating the case at the seminar. The cause of death was that the anti venom used was not a suitable brand.

In Menza’s case, the boy was lucky. He received the correct anti venom from the James Ashe Anti-Venom Trust (JAAT) – an arm of Bio-Ken Snake Farm – that is supplied to the Kilifi county hospital. The farmer died of the ineffective anti venom currently stocked in Kenyan hospitals that is totally ineffective for snake bite victims in Kenya.

“In Kilifi county there has been no case of a child dying from a snake bite because of the anti venom,” states Dr Shebe Mohammed, a researcher at Kenya Medical Research Institute in Kilifi. “And this is despite three to four children brought to the county hospital every month.”

Snakebites

The fact is that almost every snake can bite but most bites are from harmless non-venomous snakes. Venom is used by snakes for a quick knock-down so that the prey does not get away and to break down the tissue to make it easier to digest– and not to kill humans.

The success of losing no child to venomous snake bites is because everyone – including the local mganga (traditional healer) – in Kilifi county knows of the Bio-Ken Snake Farm and the availability of good quality anti venom from it. The traditional healers know their snakes – the venomous from the non-venomous. They ‘treat’ the non-venomous bites with charms and chants for a chicken and a few hundred shillings. The patient oblivious of the difference between the bites pays, relieved to be ‘treated’ successfully. But when it comes to venomous snakebites, the mganga inevitably refer the snakebite victims to the ‘mzungu’ at the snake farm. It’s proved to be a working relationship.

Bio-Ken Snake Farm was founded by the reptilian guru, the late James Ashe with his wife Sanda in 1980. Years after retiring as curator of the snake park at the Nairobi Museum, the couple settled in Watamu as Kenya’s coastal strip is rich in reptilian wonders. Since then, Bio-Ken has expanded into research and public awareness run with passion by Ashe’s protégée, Royjan Taylor who joined Bio-Ken in 2002.  The bi-annual snake seminars started 21 years ago, attract a global audience. Unfortunately the only people absent at most snake seminars are policy makers from government institutions.

“Taylor set up JAAT to meet the increasing need for good anti venom when the seminars and training of local doctors and nurses convinced people that they really CAN be saved from dangerous bites,” tells Sanda.

Anti-Venom

“Snakebites are complicated,” explains Tom Menge, toxicologist and chief pharmacist at Kenyatta National Hospital, Kenya’s largest referral hospital. Venomous snakebites require the correct anti-venom, followed by care.

“The anti venom registered in Kenya is by the Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB).

“As it’s registered there, the assumption is that PPB has verified the anti venom.”

It’s the crux of the problem. The anti venom available in the country is proving to be in-effective.

One theory is that it was approved based on dubious data presented to PPB by the manufacturer.

It speaks volumes of the ineptness of the board because anybody dealing in snakebites knows that venom varies from snake to snake – even within the same species – depending on the region it is from.

“Producing anti-venoms is challenging,” continues Menge, “because it requires venom from the snakes of all ages, different eco-zones and also during different seasons.”

In Kenya, there is no facility to manufacture anti venoms. JAAT purchases the effective South African-made anti venom for the safety of the Bio-Ken snake handlers. It also provides the anti venom on a non-profit making basis, on request and in consultation with doctors treating dangerous snakebites.  It’s what saved Menza’s life. But it’s expensive – a 10cc vial costs USD 200 – and a recommended dose varies between two and four vials.

“The challenge is that an unregistered product cannot be used in a public institution like KNH – whether it works or not – to avoid litigation. The World Health Organization (WHO) therefore has the responsibility to set higher standards of anti venom production from start to finish,” stresses Menge.

The situation in Kenya is frightening.

Neglected Tropical Disease

“The declining availability of high quality anti venom in sub Saharan Africa is a real and unnecessary tragedy, and constitutes a major neglected global health concern. The amount of suitable anti venom marketed in these countries has fallen to crisis levels, representing only a fraction of the amount required,” reads a research paper titled Consequences of Neglect: Analysis of the Sub-Saharan African Snake Anti venom Market and the Global Context by Nicholas I. Brown published in 2012 in the journal PLoS.

 Snakebite is also labelled ‘neglected tropical diseases’ by WHO and hence receives little funding or opportunities for research, innovation or business interest.

Added to that, a snake bite in tropical developing countries – Africa, Asia, South America – is an occupational hazard in the poorer segment of the society: women who walk barefoot for miles in search of water, peasants working in farms, pastorals on the move with their livestock and children at play in rural homesteads.

“The highest risk group is the productive age – 15 to 30 years old because they are more active,” states Dr David Williams who wears many caps. He is CEOof Global Snakebite Initiative, head of Australian Venom Research Unit at Melbourne University and head of the toxicology centre at University of Papua New Guinea. He’s well-travelled in sub-Saharan Africa and shows horrific images of snakebite victims in Africa, India and Papua New Guinea with rotting flesh, amputated limbs or paralysed.

“The cost to the community to look after the person is enormous and collectively it’s billions of dollars in lost productivity.”

He continues. “We don’t know how big the problem is in Africa. There is no system in place to collect data.” It is estimated that 85 per cent of snakebite victims opt for traditional healers because anti venom in hospitals is deemed ineffective.

“Yet good anti-venom is extremely effective,” says Williams. “But because the market is not regulated, the anti venoms available are not for African snakes.”

And the wrong anti venom kills the victim.

The harsh reality is that manufacturing high-quality anti venom makes little business sense – unless the government steps in with funding.

Opportunities

Compared to other medical conditions such as AIDS, malaria and TB in developing countries, snakebites are a drop in the ocean and hence government funding is allocated to diseases deemed more pressing.

It’s an approach that needs to be changed. Until the late Princess Diana took up the cause of landmine victims, it was an issue largely ignored and unknown. Similarly, says Williams, snakebite victims need a political voice, become a public issue and be dealt with at grass root level.

“Anti venoms must be listed as essential medicine on the WHO list which obligates member countries to stock them. At the same time there is need for research into effective anti venoms involving researchers from home countries.

“There are opportunities if countries worked regionally such as those in eastern Africa – Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Uganda – because these require the same anti venoms. It would then make business sense to have one procurement system to order a large quantity from a manufacturer because that makes it cheaper to produce.

“Ten years ago, we started with nothing in Papua New Guinea where there is just one doctor for every two hundred thousand people. Now we manufacture our own anti venom.”

An oceanic country in the Pacific north of Australia, Papua New Guinea is listed as a developing country.

“We now run nation-wide courses, up-skill health workers, have dedicated snakebite clinics and ambulances, clinical research laboratory and follow good manufacturing practices from start to finish ensuring that the product is safe to use on the snakebite victim,” tells Diana Barr, Technical Support Officer of the Papua New Guinea Snakebite Project – University of Melbourne.

The success rate in PNG for treating venomous snakebites is close to 100 per cent.

Snake Smart

The fact that every snake can bite does not mean that every victim dies. Very few snakes are venomous.

“70 per cent of snakebites are preventable if people wore shoes,” states Barr. “It’s cheaper than a snakebite.

“Teaching First Aid, producing posters of local snakes and training health care workers on how to physically handle snakebite victims and doing play backs minimizes further injury.”

If the anti-venom doesn’t work, one suggestion was to send it to the county office that supplied it – and ask for something that works- because every life matters.

The Mobile Phone Revolution

It’s revolutionized snakebite treatment. Taking pictures and forwarding them to doctors for fast advice and help is helping many lives that might have been lost or maimed forever. Whatsapp is another popular mode of being in the loop.

First Aid for Snakebite Victims

SPEED is of essence. Be CALM

  1. Get away from the snake
  2. Doing something is not always better than doing nothing
  3. Remove tight clothes, belts, jewellery
  4. Treat every snakebite as potential medical emergency – better safe than sorry
  5. Transport

First aid for non-neuro toxic snakebite

  1. Immobilize patient
  2. Just put pressure on the area
  3. Do not apply any dressing
  4. Get to the doctor

First aid for neuro-toxic snakebite

  1. Apply pressure – the correct pressure that is firm but not tight or loose
  2. Immobilise patient
  3. Monitor breathing
  4. Turn on left side to drain fluid from lungs
  5. Get to hospital

Snake Myths

Never use a tourniquet – it traps the venom, causing tissue damage and necrosis (tissue death – and possibly death of victim. Even without snake venom, a tourniquet cutting off blood circulation means death of tissue below the tourniquet, followed by amputation.

Never cut the flesh,  NOR use charms like black stones and alcohol.

Never suck ‘poison’ from a snakebite because you could poison yourself.

See a snake – walk away.

Snakes help keep the number of rodents low otherwise farmers have to use large quantities of anti-pesticides to kill rodents – which we eventually consume down the food chain.

Public Awareness

“It’s all down to awareness,” says Alex Mutiso, environmental manager at Tullow Oil operating in Turkana. The firm has a dedicated snake handler from Bio-Ken at the oil fields. “We catch up to two carpet vipers a day which are released away from the camp.”

Strict but simple guidelines at camp are adhered to – such as not leaving shoes outside, checking before you wear them, not walking in the dark and so on. The on-site medic has never had to treat a venomous snake bite.

But for Winnie Bore, the pharmacist at KNH, watching snake bite victims succumb to snakebites led her to become an activist and found Snakebite-Kenya a year ago to provide anti venom in rural areas, help rehabilitate victims disabled or visually impaired by snakebites and develop a research programme simply because there is very little information on snakebites in Kenya.

“There was a man from Tharaka-Nithi who lost his leg because he received the anti venom too late. It was preventable but by the time he got it, the leg was rotting. It had to be amputated. I felt l had to help communities deal with snakebites.”

Snakebite Statistics

Every year, according to GSI, snakebite claims some 125,000 lives globally. It affects the lives of around 4.5 million people worldwide; seriously injuring 2.7 million men, women and children.

Millions more die from malaria, AIDS, TB and road accidents.

Statistics of deaths by snakebite in Kenya – according to Sanda Ashe, there is no way at all with the current lack of detailed data to estimate.

But there will have been surges in bites and deaths where large areas of virgin land are being cleared of bush and forest. People come into contact with snakes more than in long-established inhabited areas.

What seemed like an increase of snakebites turned out to be more people coming in for help as they got to hear about Bio-Ken, rather than just dying at home, unrecorded.

The Big 5 in the African Snake World –  Boomslang Puff Adder and other large vipers and species of small carpet viper species, cobras and the mambas.  Highly venomous, they play an important and fascinating role in African eco-systems, and rarely live up to their bad image as aggressive killers.

 

SPRING VALLEY BAZAAR

Posted on November 24th, 2016
Categories: Uncategorized

sp-valley The Spring Valley Bazaar is undoubtedly the best, compact, friendly Christmas Bazaar perfect for all your Christmas shopping.

With over 50 unique exhibitors the Spring Valley Bazaar offers creative gifts, great catering & bar, delicious food, live music and great entertainment for children!

The Bazaar takes place annually in the month of November and this year the event will be happening on Saturday 26th November from 10am to 6pm and Sunday 27th November 2016 from 10am to 4pm at 12 Bendera Lane, off Spring Valley Road, Off Peponi Road, Nairobi.

Entrance is Ksh. 400 Adults and Children under 12 years it’s FREE.

All proceeds go to ANDREF (African Neurological Diseases Research Foundation) a  non-profit, non-religious, non-political organization run by a board of Directors. ANDREF operates two clinics in Kibera and Waithaka, two of Kenya’s largest slum areas, to clinically assess patients and to dispense medication to persons suffering from Epilepsy.

 

The hardest part of moving overseas is the reverse culture shock of coming home

Posted on November 1st, 2016
Categories: Uncategorized

“You’re so brave” was the most common response when we announced that we would be moving overseas to the Netherlands. Within 12 months the plan had grown from an idea over the kitchen table to my husband organising a European passport and starting to job-hunt.

On our first overseas trip together, a decade earlier, we had spent a few days in Amsterdam and shared memories of getting lost amongst the canals and friendly locals helping us find our youth hostel. This seemed like enough for him to say yes to a legal job opportunity in The Hague and for us to pack up our three-year-old’s toys and her little sister’s pram and prepare for a very different Dutch experience.

"Returning home brings with it an expectation that everything will be the same, but the people I left behind have moved ...
“Returning home brings with it an expectation that everything will be the same, but the people I left behind have moved on and I’ve changed as well,” writes Mihal Greener. Photo: Stocksy

With all the excitement involved in the move, it didn’t feel like we were being especially brave. Restless for a change, we reasoned that if it didn’t work out we could always just pack up and return home. The decision that took reserves of bravery only came seven years later when we decided to leave our home in the Netherlands and return to Australia.

To outsiders, this didn’t look like the difficult move. We were going back to Melbourne, the city we had grown up in, to an extended support network of family and friends. We spoke the language, knew where to get the best coffee and how to get around. But from lurking on expat discussion forums, I knew that repatriation was frequently labelled the hardest move of all. It’s where day-to-day life is easier, but the trade-off is a loss of adrenalin and sense of adventure that comes with the challenges of making a foreign city into a home.

Writer Mihal Greener and daughters in the Netherlands.
Writer Mihal Greener and daughters in the Netherlands. 

Of all the parts of our lives in the Netherlands, it’s the adrenalin that has been the hardest to leave behind.

My world felt so much larger living in Europe. Not only could I jump into a car and delight at crossing borders, but my eyes were also opened to a different way of approaching life, from home birthing to a lack of materialism and cycling everywhere. My community was filled with fellow expats who were raising their children as global citizens, moving countries every three or four years. My UK neighbours would share stories about being evacuated from Africa with only hours to pack and leave, or having armed guards accompany them in the Middle East, while I admired how worldly their kids were. I started feeling like anything was possible, making lists of places to visit and idly speculating about which country we should move to next.

Returning home felt like the adventure had abruptly ended and the world became much smaller again. It’s not just the physical distance but also the ease of daily life, where fresh perspectives and new experiences need to be more actively sought out.

Returning home brings with it an expectation that everything will be the same, but the people I left behind have moved on and I’ve changed as well. We’ve missed chunks of each other’s lives, the real stuff that happens beyond social media and is shared over a glass of wine. There’s a space that needs to be filled.

Robin Pascoe, author of Homeward Bound: A Spouse’s Guide to Repatriation, compares repatriation to wearing contact lenses in the wrong eyes. “Everything looks almost right,” she says. Not quite fitting feels more unsettling than integrating into an entirely new culture.

I Am A Triangle, an online expat group, evolved from a blog where Naomi Hattaway describes how when a person leaves circle country and moves to square country, they leave as a triangle – no longer quite fitting in in either place. As a triangle, the adage is to give the reparation process at least a year to settle in. It’s also, I suspect, the time it takes to lose that connection with a past life and allow the longing and comparisons to subside.

The duality of being a triangle is that so much feels familiar and at the same time so different, causing its own kind of disorientation. Within our family this division was amplified. As parents we had to readjust to life in Australia, but it had always been our home. For our children – aged 10, 8 and 5 – who had spent most of their lives in the Netherlands and where the youngest was born, home was where they had their bedrooms and school friends and they were all devastated at having to say goodbye. Australia was the country on their passports and where they would fly out to every few years to visit family and friends.

Now they are struggling to keep a sense of their Dutch identity, despite not having a passport or any tangible identifier of their time in a country where they felt, for the most part, like they belonged. The Olympics brought home these conflicted loyalties when my daughter proclaimed her support for the Netherlands at every possible opportunity. In case there was any ambiguity about her thoughts on repatriation, she also made sure, whatever the event, to vocally support any country competing against Australia.

Each of our children has a different accent and different relationship with the Netherlands and Australia, a product of their respective ages and identity. They’ve grown up loving Vegemite, but at an Australia Day BBQ a week after our return they were the only children refusing tomato sauce on their hot dogs, instead squirting it next to their cheese toasties to dunk the sandwich into, Dutch-style.

While people are welcoming us back home, we are all grappling with the realisation that repatriating means having a bit of your heart on different sides of the word. Of all the experiences we shared, this is the part that requires the most bravery.

Changing Lives One Bead at a Time

Posted on October 25th, 2016
Categories: Uncategorized

zinj  Zinj – a name used by Herodotus to describe the ancient Swahili coast, from southern Somalia to northern Mozambique – is the inspiration for our unusual little workshop, in a tiny village overlooking the beautiful Takaungu creek and the Indian Ocean. It is here, in this unique location in Kenya, that we make beautiful handbags, belts, dog collars, sandals and other small accessories completely by hand.

Dedicated to promoting East African bead and leather-work across the globe and improving the lives of East African craftspeople at home, Zinj Design has now trained and supports over 80 artisans from Takaungu and the surrounding area.   Before joining the team at Zinj, many of the villagers were either unemployed or working only very sporadically. The steady income they are now earning means they can settle down with their families and send their children to school. Hence our motto: ‘Changing Lives One Bead at a Time’.

From a creative point of view, our mantra is “a contemporary take on traditional East African beadwork” and our aim is to create contemporary products that pay homage to location, culture and East African tradition. Our specialty is beadwork, and that iconic element is consistent across all our products. We use only local materials including natural, free range, Kenyan beef leather, and every single aspect is handmade, often using very basic tools. We have learned over time that African ingenuity is often the simplest and most lasting solution to a problem, hence our Kikoi cotton linings are made on a sixty year-old treadle machine, every handbag is stitched using needles cleverly fashioned from paperclips, and all our brass buckles and handbag clips are cast by hand in sand moulds after melting down Kenyan scrap metal and extracting the brass. Hand-made does not mean poor quality, however. In fact, so much painstaking attention is paid to every aspect of our creative process that we can offer an unconditional, lifetime guarantee on everything we make.

A Zinj Design, inspiration comes from our community and surroundings: Takaungu, the ocean, shells, baobab trees, the local people, kangas, savannah, wildlife and Kenya as a whole. Moreover, every successful product has been the result of an extraordinary collaboration between the designers and the people who actually do the handiwork. The whole team collaborates to solve production problems together, and it is this collaboration and sense of community that leads to the precision, consistency, and idiosyncratic style of a Zinj product.

Above all, Zinj Design is not simply about creating beautiful products but also job creation. We strongly support the notion of ‘Trade not Aid’ and we feel first-hand, every day, the difference employment makes to local families around us. So whilst our aim is to create a successful fashion brand, we simultaneously strive to create jobs, expand the ‘community of artisans’ and by so doing, become economically and socially responsible. After all, social entrepreneurship is a growing force where business meets community development, and it is ultimately that force that underlies the creative and economic drive at the busy Zinj Design workshop. Come and visit us!

 

ARE YOU MOVING HOUSE OR COUNTRY?

Posted on October 12th, 2016
Categories: Uncategorized

sms-logo-final

Moving house, whether across the seas or across town, is considered to be one of the 3 most stressful things that you will do in your lifetime. But with proper planning, guidance and professional help it will be considerably easier & less stressful.

MOVING TO KENYA

Considering that Kenya has been welcoming expatriates to into to the country to work for years, you would think that there would be easy and suitable systems in place. Well, no. This is definitely not the case.
The Kenyan customs systems is complex and notoriously inefficient. So pre-planning is vital otherwise you may end up living in Kenya, with your family, with the contents of your suitcase. Certainly not an ideal situation.

MOVING HOUSE

Moving house need not be a painful experience again if you plan, and have guidance on the do’s and don’ts of moving. This also applies to your beloved pets. Many pets get lost just after families move, adding to your stress levels, due to incorrect handling of your animals and familiarisation of your new home.

ABOUT MYSELF:

I have worked in the Logistics business for 12 years, and for many of those years I was involved in moving families across the globe and from house to house. As my kids are getting older, I have decided to use my extensive experience and knowledge to provide an Information service with regards to the Logistics of Moving. I have also moved countries a number of times, with kids, dogs and cars so I know first-hand what it is like.

Kindly contact me for more information:

Suzanne Osmond-Sorensen

[email protected]

0710890682

The World Passes 400 PPM Threshold. Permanently. That’s carbon dioxide damage.

Posted on September 28th, 2016
Categories: Uncategorized

carbon-dioxide-levelsIn the centuries to come, history books will likely look back on September 2016 as a major milestone for the world’s climate. At a time when atmospheric carbon dioxide is usually at its minimum, the monthly value failed to drop below 400 parts per million.

That all but ensures that 2016 will be the year that carbon dioxide officially passed the symbolic 400 ppm mark, never to return below it in our lifetimes, according to scientists.

Because carbon pollution has been increasing since the start of the Industrial Revolution and has shown no signs of abating, it was more a question of “when” rather than “if” we would cross this threshold. The inevitability doesn’t make it any less significant, though.

September is usually the month when carbon dioxide is at its lowest after a summer of plants growing and sucking it up in the northern hemisphere. As fall wears on, those plants lose their leaves, which in turn decompose, releasing the stored carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere. At Mauna Loa Observatory, the world’s marquee site for monitoring carbon dioxide, there are signs that the process has begun but levels have remained above 400 ppm.

Since the industrial revolution, humans have been altering this process by adding more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere than plants can take up. That’s driven carbon dioxide levels higher and with it, global temperatures, along with a host of other climate change impacts.

“Is it possible that October 2016 will yield a lower monthly value than September and dip below 400 ppm? Almost impossible,” Ralph Keeling, the scientist who runs the Scripps Institute for Oceanography’s carbon dioxide monitoring program, wrote in a blog post. “Brief excursions toward lower values are still possible, but it already seems safe to conclude that we won’t be seeing a monthly value below 400 ppm this year – or ever again for the indefinite future.”

We may get a day or two reprieve in the next month, similar to August when Tropical Storm Madeline blew by Hawaii and knocked carbon dioxide below 400 ppm for a day. But otherwise, we’re living in a 400 ppm world. Even if the world stopped emitting carbon dioxide tomorrow, what has already put in the atmosphere will linger for many decades to come.

TCB’s Miscellaneous Ramblings – August-September 2015

Posted on July 31st, 2015
Categories: News

TCBTCB’s Miscellaneous Ramblings – August-September 2015

The new security regime at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) is something else. I’m all for a secure environment, but this is over-kill, with due apologies for the K-word.

On arrival at the airport, more the entrance to it, while still in your car, you are greeted with what seems to be a state-of-the-art all singing all dancing security apparatus – it certainly looks very high-tech. Evidently it does the business, it scans your car from the underside plus there is a side-scan – it is all seeing I’m told. However there is a major fly in the ointment. Evidently it only scans cars, their contents and the driver. All passengers must exit, cross over 5-6 lanes of busy traffic to be hand frisked by security personnel. You then re-join your vehicle on the other side. Whole busloads of passengers together with your guests traipse across causing more mayhem and major back-ups on both sides of the car screening. At night this is pretty scary, as the area is not very well lit. An accident looking for a place to happen guaranteed!

Tell me why the driver is good to go without being frisked but the passengers are not?

What do all our business investors, tourists and the like think of this Mickey Mouse scenario? I’m all for security, but done properly and in an orderly and understandable fashion.

Update….update….update: I just came back from JKIA post-Obama, no out of car experience for my passenger, just a cursory flashlight check of the cars interior before going into the screening process. A blip in the system or the realisation that the screening process is fully inclusive? Pray tell? 

Talking of President Obama’s visit to Kenya, the country of his father’s birth – what a breath of fresh air! His speech to the people of Kenya from Kasarani was inspiring, hard hitting and in the main factually correct. I was in awe, massive delivery and a 40-minute address without notes – what a presence!

Nairobi looked fabulous, all scrubbed up and shining, flags-a-flying and no traffic – everyone it seems stayed home or went away for the duration of his stay in Kenya. Just shows what we can do, when we want to.

His visit will I’m sure, given its international coverage, show the world that Kenya is a progressive nation that is going places and getting there at a fair clip. International investors find the country an attractive proposition, and from that will come the return of our traditional tourist markets.

The migration has started and lodges and camps in the Masai Mara are reporting brisk business through until the end of August.

Those that know tell me getting Kenya back into international tour operator’s brochures is at best a two-year exercise – 2017/18.

Lufthansa Group’s Brussels Airlines stops flying into Nairobi from September to be replaced by its owner with five flights a week to/from Frankfurt using Airbus A340-300 aircraft. Brussels Airlines will however continue to serve Entebbe, Kigali and Bujumbura. China Southern Airlines has launched three weekly flights from Shanghai to Nairobi, which in conjunction with fellow Sky Team member Kenya Airways offers massive capacity on the Kenya – China route. Fuelled by the massive Chinese adventure in Africa.

Going back to security at JKIA – on departing from any of the international terminal buildings (1A/B/C) there is a security check, bags and self scanned – belts removed, thankfully not shoes. You then proceed to baggage drop and immigration. There is further screening prior to boarding your aircraft, this is because at JKIA arriving and departing passengers are not segregated and this poses a perceived security risk.

However in the new terminal 1A there is extra security check just before you go through immigration. This is no more than 50-metres from the security as you enter the terminal, with only the check-in counters between the two.

What is this all about?

Crazy times, which led to a very frustrated TCB dropping his laptop at the third screening area of said terminal 1A. A few choice words later, I fired up the laptop, nada – the screen staring blankly back at me. No worries I thought, I was on my way to the big modern world. I was wrong. Mr. Apple telling me that anything over 5-years old is considered obsolete, they didn’t want to know. Not something they tell you when you buy one of their products.

Lucky dip on the Internet found me sending the laptop to somewhere in the Manchester area, Eccles to be exact, isn’t that the place the cakes come from? Blind faith without doubt, but driven by desperation of it went, I half expected never to see it again. Worse yet it would be hacked and personal information used to empty my meagre bank account.

Looks can be deceptive, it looked shady, it felt shady, it even smelt shady (well, you know what I mean). But it was impressively efficient – screen replaced and returned to me within five working days – the most impressive part was the price. For less than the price of a new replacement screen online – I assume mine is second hand, but who cares it flies.

So much more to say, so little space left. Until next time…..

To read the current issue of Travel News, click here.

 

Horses helping children to cope with disabilities

Posted on July 23rd, 2015
Categories: News

RDA
In a large, grassy field tucked inside a residential area in Karen, children as young as four years are enjoying a session of horse riding.

But this is no ordinary riding class, and these are no ordinary children, because every one of them has a physical, mental or learning disability.

“We have a variety of disabilities, but there is a high proportion of cerebral palsy and autistic sufferers,” explains Sue Anderson, a trained horse riding instructor and founder of the charity, Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) Kenya.

For more than 20 years, Anderson and a group of volunteers have provided equine-assisted therapy for children, mostly from impoverished backgrounds, who suffer from developmental disorders, including muscular dystrophy, spinal injuries, polio, emotional and social delays.

The 45-minute riding class is led by an instructor, and every rider has three supporters — a syce (a horse attendant) who leads the horse, and two side-walkers, one on either side of the animal, to watch over and encourage the rider.

Some of the side-walkers are special-needs teachers and experienced staff from the centres the riders come from, but many are ordinary people who volunteer their services.

When the children arrive, they are kitted out with riding helmets, then led to the horses one by one. None of them seems afraid or anxious around the half-tonne animals. In fact, one or two autistic youngsters who arrive in a highly excitable state soon settle down after mounting their horses.

Sessions begin with a gentle walk around the field while, in the background, an old-school CD player churns out soft rock and pop music.

Then the instructor gets the children to perform simple tasks like raising their hands, clapping behind their backs or swinging their arms from side to side.

To a casual observer, it looks like simple fun, but as Jane Tyrell, a paediatric physiotherapist and RDA’s chairlady explains, this is therapy in action.

“It’s actually quite difficult to take your hands off the horse and put them on your head and balance,” she explains.

Next come different activities using play items during which the children might have to reach out for a beach ball or toss a bean bag into a basket on the ground.

PALPABLE JOY

The exercises are designed to stretch the muscles, promote eye-hand coordination, focus attention, encourage upright sitting, and control body movement, all normal skills that children with developmental challenges often lack.

The joy on the children’s faces is palpable. “One of the brilliant things about riding is the sense of achievement and feeling that they’re doing something,” says Tyrell.

Equine-assisted therapy uses the movement of the horse to create muscle and sensory stimulation that bring about physical, emotional and cognitive rehabilitation. It has to do with the rhythmic, repetitive gait of a horse.

“When you’re on a horse, its movement completely mimics what is happening in your pelvis. The horse gives the experience of normal pelvic movement and minimises abnormal movement,” says Tyrell. “It’s not something the children learn, but something the movement does to their bodies.”

On what promoted the creation of RDA, Anderson says the charity was started in 1996 “after two young, Kenyan riders participated in the Special Olympics in the US and they came back with a variety of medals”.

Joshua Agare and Rebekah Sudman participated in equestrian events at the 1995 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Connecticut, US and their success spurred Anderson, a trained nurse, to create a horse riding programme for children with developmental disabilities.

Agare, who was 16 at the time, had never sat on a horse before and had only trained for six months before the Special Olympics, where he won gold medals in individual and team events.

“It was the greatest moment in my life!” recalls Agare, who sits on the board of Special Olympics Kenya. “How many Kenyans get an opportunity to ride a horse? Yet, here I was, doing it for fun and winning medals.”

As a child, Agare had struggled through primary school due to poor and slow reading skills. Later, he was moved to Fairmile School for children with developmental disabilities and enrolled into the RDA riding programme.

Now a professional athlete in men’s handball, Agare has competed in multiple international events and will participate in the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles, US, from July 25 to August 2

He sums up the benefits of riding therapy: “It builds confidence, balance and control.”

Fern Awinja Eshuchi, founder of Fairmile School and a certified early childhood specialist, has been partnering with the programme since its inception.

“It is a key therapy in improving concentration,” notes Eshuchi, who first engaged in therapeutic riding in the UK. “It improves eye contact, thinking skills, motor skills, eye-hand coordination — all those skills that go into functional living.”

MASSAGE GOING ON

“When they sit on a horse, it focuses their concentration and stimulates calmness in both the body and mind, as opposed to stimulating hyperactivity. There is a massage that is going on from the bottom,” she adds, with a laugh.

Abisai Kuya is a rehabilitation assistant at Dagoretti Children’s Centre in Nairobi and has been accompanying groups of disabled children to horse riding therapy for 10 years.

“It’s helping our kids with balance, coordination and trunk control,” he notes. “It’s one of the best activities.”

There is still a huge stigma attached to physical and mental disabilities in the country. The Dagoretti centre’s outreach programme regularly finds disabled children hidden away in homes for years with little stimulation or human contact, perhaps due to traditional beliefs surrounding disability or lack of awareness of the medical treatments available.

In one case, a six-year-old boy who currently attends the riding classes was found in a village at the age of four, weighing just five kilogrammes.

His bones and muscles were severely underdeveloped, and he could not hold up his head, but now Tyrell is confident about the outlook for the boy.

“If he can sit up and hold something in his hand, feed himself and make eye contact with people, then he’ll go to school. But if he’s lying down, they’ll never take him to school,” she says of some parents of children with disability.

RDA Kenya regularly invites students from local schools to volunteer as part of their community service programme.

“Sure, we’re about therapeutic riding, but we’re also about changing the perception of disabled children and, hopefully, we’ve got a new generation coming up that understands more,” says Tyrell.

Hippotherapy and therapeutic horse riding can only be carried out by a certified therapist or professional riding instructor. Hippotherapy is a much more refined form of equine treatment and it is uses specific movements of the horse for specific disabilities or weaknesses, explains Anderson.

“We neither have the horse nor an instructor to do this in Kenya,” she says.

Setting up RDA Kenya was no easy task, as registration took almost two years. Prior to this, Anderson trained and qualified as a disabled riding instructor with Riding for the Disabled Association in the UK.

Then suitable horses had to be found and specially trained because safety is of utmost importance.

“Finding the right horse is very difficult,” says Anderson. “Not only do they have to have to be sound and have the right conformation, but they must also have to have a suitable temperament.

The horse has to be sound enough to hold its balance with a fairly unbalanced rider

Horses also have their own ‘mental baggage’, which includes effects from racing, playing polo or other such activities.

“Also, we don’t want very young, flighty horses,” Anderson continues. “You want sort of middle-aged horses, that haven’t gone through too much, their joints are still good, and they’re of sound mind.”

The personality of the horse also matters. Some horses are “generous-hearted, some are scared of everything, while some cannot concentrate”.

“So a kind horse gets what we’re doing and is willing to trust us. And you’ve got to be able to trust a horse completely,” says Tyrell.

The horses are trained in therapeutic riding exercises then carefully incorporated into the programme. Anderson allocates horses for each session.

“Certain children get on better with certain horses. You’re planning not just the size, but the temperament as well. Some horses bring out the best in some children and some horses bring out the worst.”

THE YOUNGER, THE BETTER

At present, the programme focuses on children because, as Anderson puts it, “the younger, the better, because they’re more malleable”.

“From our point of view, it’s more constructive to take the younger child because we’re going to make more progress,” adds Tyrell.

“It doesn’t mean we never take older children, because sometimes we do. We just have to check very carefully who’s going to benefit the most.”

The children are individually selected for the programme, with each one’s condition reviewed, medical records studied and parental consent obtained.

Equine therapy is not a panacea for all physical or cognitive disabilities, says Tyrell. “There are some riders with conditions we have to make sure don’t get on a horse, such as brittle bones, haemophilia, epilepsy and severe scoliosis, which is curvature of the spine.”

Where it is recommended, therapeutic riding is combined with other therapies for occupational, physical and cognitive rehabilitation.

The voluntary nature of RDA Kenya means that the twice-weekly programme can only take on a limited number of children. The association relies entirely on donations to fund its activities, buy the costly riding equipment, maintain the horses and employ syces. All other personnel are volunteers, including the side-walkers and committee members.

A supporter of the programme allows them the use of her field every week at no cost. The riders are charged a minimal fee, although some children cannot afford even this. “Those who can, pay; and for those who can’t, we either subsidise or find a sponsor,” says Anderson.

Various fundraising events enable RDA Kenya to sustain but not to expand its services. “I would love somebody to come from Mombasa and say, ‘We have ponies here, how can we help?’” says Anderson. “We would give as much input as we could.”

Volunteer commitment is also essential. “If we could employ instructors, we could do seven days a week,” says Tyrell. “For every child you take riding, you need three volunteers. You can only really volunteer so much, and that is part of our limitation.”

RDA hopes to one day grow the existing set-up into a permanent therapeutic riding centre where more children with disabilities can gain the sensor-motor skills and self-confidence they need for functional living, learning and integration into society.

SOME BENEFITS CANNOT BE FULLY EXPLAINED

Jane Tyrell admits that some benefits of horse-assisted therapy cannot be fully explained. The horses, for instance, understand autistic children and will tolerate behaviour from those children that they will not tolerate from an able-bodied rider.

Autistic children often have trouble with eye contact and bonding, but they seem to connect easily with horses, which can improve their communication and social skills.

While scientific research on equine therapy is still ongoing, for centuries it has been known that interacting with animals promotes emotional and psychological well-being in people.

Ancient Greek writings from around 400 BC speak of the benefits of horseback therapy. In 1875, French neurologist Charles Chassaignac was one of the first to demonstrate that patients with neurological and physical disorders show improved balance, muscle tone, joint movement and self-esteem from therapeutic horse riding.

But it wasn’t until a wheelchair-bound Danish woman competed in equestrian events at the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games that horse-assisted therapy gained global attention.

Her achievement spurred new therapeutic riding centres across Europe and North America, with treatments being developed for people with limited mobility and cognitive function.

In later years, movies such as War Horse and The Horse Whisperer helped to re-ignite public interest in horse therapy. Today, hippotherapy and therapeutic riding are recognised disciplines for treating physical and psychological conditions.

IN SUMMARY:

While scientific research on equine therapy is still ongoing, for centuries it has been known that interacting with animals promotes emotional and psychological well-being in people.

For instance, autistic children often have trouble with eye contact and bonding, but they seem to connect easily with horses, which can improve their communication and social skills.

ARTICLE AND PHOTO CREDIT: KARI MUTU FOR THE DAILY NATION

Word of Mouth mourn legendary Chef Marcus Mitchell along with the rest of Nairobi

Posted on June 29th, 2015
Categories: Uncategorized

Tribute

Marcus Mitchell, 1975-2015

Once in a rare while in this life we meet someone who isn’t just that clichéd ‘larger than life’ but who seems to be life—to occupy his own warm center of the planet in such a way that he makes his own at-mosphere. Someone who so thoroughly loves the life he is living that he invites others to participate in its wild, risk-taking, heart-thumping ride and find the insane joy in it. These rare souls don’t spend their days stepping on others to reach the top of the heap. Instead, they inhabit a place so completely that they become its Genius—and then open their arms and invite others in to take and eat.

Such a man was Marcus Mitchell, head chef at Talisman Restaurant from 2011-2015; winner of the Taste Awards Chef of the Year title in Kenya 2013-2014; and, down to his bones, a man who used food as a vehicle for loving people and drawing them in with a welcome that left a deep imprint on the thousands who came through his door.

Marcus always had a precocious appreciation for excellent cuisine. According to his mother, at 18 months he yelled at his uncle for not peeling chili prawns fast enough to suit his appetite. When he was seven years old on a trip in the French Alps, he couldn’t decide between frog legs or snails, as he had never tried either, so he ordered one, while his mother ordered the other, and they swapped bites to enjoy both. This zest for sharing good things with others fueled the passion that would push him to become a largely self-taught chef comparatively late in life.

Marcus once told me that he lied through his teeth to get his first job in a restaurant kitchen. He had been urged by his partner, Lynda, to pursue his love for food and turn it into a career, so he dived into that challenge with every molecule of his existence. Willing to do whatever it took to learn his craft, Marcus peeled vegetables while eavesdropping on the sous chef and soaking up everything he could. No task was too humble, because it enabled him to learn the kitchen and make it his own territory.

By the time he was head-hunted to run the kitchen at the Talisman Restaurant in Karen, it was his famous pork belly and crackling that earned him the notice of owners Stuart Herd and Satyan Patel. Talisman was already a favorite Karen haunt, but Marcus slowly turned up all the burners and made it a not-to-be-missed destination—number one on Trip Advisor, written up in foodie magazines, beloved by the tourists who booked in droves and the locals who sometimes literally called it home when Friday night’s inevitable shenanigans turned into Saturday morning’s Bloody Mary and poached eggs with extra bacon, please.

Marcus constantly pushed his own envelope, learning new techniques and cooking in well-known kitchens in France and the UK to sharpen his own skills. But he was never a pretentious chef (though he could wow the most fastidious judge with his Islay Malt foam and Wasabi sorbet). Instead, his hallmark was incredibly delicious, fresh dishes with a unique twist. Marcus had a lot of respect for chefs who put their customers above their egos, preparing good food with the best ingredients. He often told me that the most loved dishes are really quite simple and that it’s important to let what’s unique about a particular cut of meat or type of veg shine instead of smothering it in fancy sauces. I can still hear him saying, ‘Let the steak speak for itself’ and ‘Salt and pepper are the brother and sister of a chef!’

But to those of us who lived in Karen and frequented Talisman, Marcus was so much more than the guy in the chef’s apron. He was the glue of a vibrant community that made the restaurant its home base and didn’t consider a week finished if it didn’t include a Friday or Saturday night at the bar or a Sunday afternoon on the patio. Marcus made it a point to walk around and visit patrons, and a meal was always better when he told you how he’d found some unique ingredient in your dish that day.

When Marcus entered a room, he towered over us and filled the space, yet his infectious laugh sounded like a teenage girl’s giggle and set off ripples of laughter all around him. And it wasn’t a proper Friday night if he didn’t stand up and sing ‘Purple Haze’ at the mic while Mojo played.

He took infinite pains to teach an eager under chef in his kitchen, but he didn’t suffer fools and had a lightning temper when someone’s incompetence threw a spanner into the works. Working as a photog-rapher in his kitchen over a couple of years, I marveled that anyone could inhabit the high-stress atmos-phere of a world-class restaurant and still maintain such a crazy sense of humour. Or maybe that was his secret after all—laughing when most people would have thrown in the towel. And on his days off, he could still be found cooking at home. His Sunday afternoon braais were legendary, and we counted ourselves lucky when we got an invitation.

That Marcus magic tumbled down over us in waves when he couldn’t contain that infectious laugh of his. But it also caught us off guard in his quieter moments when he got serious and took time to listen and to talk. He wasn’t perfect, and he was no saint. There were times we wanted to wring his neck, like when he’d never answer his phone or bother to reply to an email. But he always made things right…eventually. His bacon sandwiches smothered in real maple syrup could heal nearly all wounds.

As tributes have poured in over the past few days, there are common themes that stand out: Marcus was genuine; he was a gentleman; he knew how to laugh and make others laugh with him; he loved people with abandon and never forgot a face.

How do you take someone who lived so large and with so much heart and pour his essence into a written tribute? How can you fully capture a portrait of a man who touched thousands of lives all around the world by staying in one corner of it and inviting them in to eat, to drink, to love and to live deeply? Marcus has left a trail of friendships spanning the globe, and what better way to pay him tribute than to let some of them speak for themselves:

He was a Molotov cocktail, the essence of high spirits, a force to reckon with, a captain of high jinks, a big bear-hug of a friend. I hear his voice most of all — the robust timber of it, his giggles, that infectious laugh and then a softness when he was capturing you, bringing you into that most special realm of his. Marcus was cosy and kingly. Memories and magic. He loved being alive. He was happy and made us happy. ~ Susan O.

Marcus, You always took the time to encourage those around you with unparalleled wit and genuine interest, no matter what may have been on your mind you took the time to care. Amigo, you made us all cry with laughter, and now we cry with grief that you are gone. You were without a doubt the best chef I’ve ever known, and an inspiringly passionate, supportive, and creative mind that no one shall soon forget. This place we call home will not be the same without you. Thank you so much for all you gave to us. ~ Chris M.

You will always be remembered for your witty banter, and quick repartee. Larger than life, with a loving heart and kind thoughts for others. ~ Shane S.

So many happy memories Marcus. You took fun and laughter wherever you went. Such a special and unique person and I will always look back on those years fondly. ~ Dawn M.

Marcus you have always been full of fun and laughter and spread your contagious energy through all around you. You are truly unforgettable and will be a part of each and everyone you have ever met. ~ Marc M.

Grateful to have known you! Funniest guy I ever met and absolutely raw talent in the kitchen. Will definitely miss you, Chef! Far too soon. ~ Leon C.

Your presence filled every room, your laughter resounded throughout the Universe and your humour tickled us all into submission. You made such a huge impact on so many of us, that the void you leave behind cannot be filled by anyone. That is the hallmark of a truly unique and amazing being. ~ Bud P.

What person could have led a group of men and women from all different tribes and parts of Africa in a kitchen, like Marcus? He used their competitive spirits to work together to bring flavours no other kitchen had in Kenya! I think of the contests and how he made them want to do their best, to go beyond themselves. ~ Bonnie C.

I’m absolutely devastated about this… He had such a enormous talent and had such a beautiful soul. All our lives have been made richer by eating his food & having him grace us with his presence at Talisman has he did the rounds. I can only imagine how his passing will leave such a huge hole in the lives of his friends & family. ~ Liz H.

I had the privilege of working with Marcus for two unforgettable months. They were amongst my happiest memories. He had immense talent and a patience in the kitchen that astounded me. He shared his knowledge willingly. ~ Karen M.

A true gentleman. A talent. Down to earth. I am still in shock and sorry I will not get to know him better and spend time in his company. The world is a poorer place for his passing. ~ Jason B.

Marcus, we could say you’ve broken all our hearts, but that wouldn’t be true. The truth is that you broke your own heart, and gave each of us a piece of it. But we’re selfish. We would have more, and fill our glasses with it. But the piece we have, we’ll cherish—always. Save us all a place at your table, boet.

On and on the rain will fall
Like tears from a star, like tears

 from a star
On and on the rain will say
How fragile we are, how fragile we are

~ Sting, ‘Fragile’

Written by Jennie Chance

 

Tangerine Ink Spa latest news

Posted on June 22nd, 2015
Categories: Uncategorized

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