Arriving at Nairobi airport 45 minutes early, we could not find our airport transfer. I was so looking forward to the first time that I have ever walked into the arrival hall o see my name up in lights (or at least in texta). Nevertheless, we were eventually found and headed off to our hotel.
Or should I say mansion? Compared to the backpackers in Livimgstone (which was itself lovely), this place was incredible. Situated on the outskirts of Nairobi, it was a different planet all together. Set against a background of dust, smog, shanty towns and traffic was a tranquil garden my mother would have been proud of, a lagoon style pool and five top star restaurants. Being Australians, we jumped in the pool. Freezing, but had to be done.
We then settled down to a Kenyan style dinner. Not long after sitting down, the meat started coming from everywhere…beef, pork, turkey, goat, ostrich, camel, sausage, chicken. And it kept coming until we could eat no more. We were entertained by some amazing Kenyan dancing, including acrobatics and fire eating.
On our first real day in Kenya we visited the elephant orphanage, the giraffe park and the national museum. At the elephant orphanage, we saw tiny tiny tiny baby elephants from 14 months to 4 year olds, even getting to touch them.
At the giraffe park, we met and fed Ibraham the baby Rothschild giraffe. He literally licked the pallets out of your hands.
The national museum was uneventful, barring the power outage halfway through. Michael was in his element as the museum had one of the best collections of original early hominid fossils. I particularly enjoyed the history of Kenya that detailed how Kenya moved from 42 tribes through the British pre-colonial era and the British colonial era and finally to independence.
In 1890, after periods of Portuguese and Omani rule, Britain and Germany signed a pact that “handed over control” of what is now modern day Kenya to the Brits. Overtime, the increasing presence of Europeans began to stir dissent and develop cries for independence. When Britain decided to build a railway to what is now Uganda, the Africans created their first union movement and refused to assist, even though the slave trade was still rife. Britain had to request help from India with huge numbers of Indians brought to the country.
The most famous of the independence movements was the Mau Mau movement, developed to drive the white settlers out forever. The leader of the union movement, Jomo Kenyatta was jailed as attacks on livestock and Kenyan collaborators began to occur. When released in 1959, he continued his request and eventually the Kenyan Brits agreed. A coalition government was formed in May 1963 and abandoned in December 1963, when Kenyatta became the first Kenyan president.
He ruled for several years until his death, when his second in command took over and slowly changed the government from an imperial state to a ‘personal’ state, ensuring that all major positions reported directly to him, removing the right for opposition parties to contest elections and bringing in high levels of corruption. Eventually, this too led to resistance and in 2002 the second presidency ended. The third and current president has campaigned against corruption and it is slowly decreasing. New elections for the fourth president are to be held in two weeks, as evidenced by the many posters and decorated trucks across the country at the moment.
Heading home from the museum, we enjoyed a marvellous Japanese meal and went to bed ready for the first day of our safari trough Kenya and Tanzania.