This is Africa

2015-03-27

This is a country of entrepreneurs, survivors, poverty, pride, beauty and evil acts.  Its terrifying as much as inspiring.  Streets lined with burning trash, artisan goods and makeshift food stalls are the norm.  Simple clothing is worn with pride.  T-shirts are bright white and pressed, shoes polished.  Its seemingly taking care of what you have no matter how much or how little that is.

I don’t know what i expected from my first days in Africa but it wasn’t this.

Coming from restaurants, food, wine, dining and excess I’m finding relief in eating for nourishment.  Bland, simple foods with coffee, tea, bottled water and cold beer.  The perspective change is a shock and I value our efforts at home more then ever.  Nairobi is a hustle with entrepreneurs around every corner stall and roadside shack, selling everything from grilled corn to fresh sugar can, sculptures, jewelry and furniture.  Everyone is hustling to sling a dollar.  As i ride down some back corridor in the back of some strangers thread bare car Cyndi Laupers Time after time comes on the radio. Listening to this passing burning piles of trash and sex trafficked young men and women feels like an impossibility.

Dinner was indoor / outdoor in what i can best describe as an open walled home.  Multiple fire places and seating facing the curated grounds that housed gardens, playgrounds and small livestock.  Service was slow, deliberate and extremely polite.  People having quiet conversations in small nooks and corners.  English, Dutch, Locals and our Chicago group made up the majority of the guest list. Food was hot, beer was cold and the experience was epic.

I hear stories of peoples journeys to third world environments who come back with jaded views of capitalism and our seemingly endless desire to consume.  How we should be happy doing less or wanting less etc.  That is not the lesson I see here.  These are people using every ounce of their creativity and skills to create something desirable in order to survive, earn an income, look respectable and improve their lives.  I feel a responsibility to make use of every opportunity we have, better our businesses, provide better services and reinvest back into ourselves and contribute to our environment in a substantial way.

Im headed to the Maasai Mara.  Giraffes, Elephants, Leopards, Lions, Hippos and possibly the great wildabeast migration on the Serengeti planes.  Its the lion king with chance of bodily harm.  Oddly the most dangerous animal is said to be the Hippo.  Who knew?

Lessons from Nairobi:

– engage your talents at all costs.

– offer an experience or physical object/product of value in the world.

– take pride in yourself and your work.

– ….. and best stay in after dark to avoid undesirable beatings and muggings from people who really enjoy and are really good at causing suffering.

#Sodikoff #Africa #Nairobi #Kenya

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