Archive | December, 2009

2009… Encounters, Places, Stories.

31 Dec

A year with a new level of intensity.

Encounters… Felix, Ingrid, Thomas, Hannah, Mina, Abdul and the Dialogcrew, Ralf, Stregi, Kaisha, TT, Arnold, Iris, Diana, Sally, Fiona, Joel, Prashant, Sera, Sheila, Carol, Dani, Jonso, Cathy, Ruth, Eunice, Julius, Edu, Sheila, Wes, Carol, Will, Emma, Jessie, Claudi, Bishar, Lewis, Halima, Amos, Isaack, Kevo, Es, Kagasi, Felix, Isaak, Ivo, Nashera, Ismael, David, Frank, Kinya, Sio, Kuks, Sirintai, Jude, Anderson, xtine, Gloria, Nyas, Jose, Oliver, Janina, Marcus, Micaela, Nancy, Martha, Tate, Lulu, Cindy, George, Naum, Beko, Jimmy, Elisha, Isaack, Solo, Chinedu, Damaris, Brown, James, Sonja, Abraham, the office rat, countless traffic jams and mosquitos, …

Places… Duesseldorf, Frankfurt, Hanau, Darmstadt, Berlin, Nairobi, Gießen, Mombasa, Namanga, Naro moru, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Nakuru, Eldoret, Laikipia, Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar, …

Stories… Diplomarbeit, Gastrojob, best WG ever, Saying goodbye, friends on visit, campus hostels, conferences, mombasa, 9ja swagga, integration, friendship, bus trips, people applying, people dropping out, matatu strikes, IC 2011, tell your neighbour, Westi Trips, power rationing, …

Thanks for being 2009. Let’s rock 2010 together.

Tell your neighbour: “This is my year!”


When the rain washes you clear, you will know!

24 Dec

I dont think people can understand this statement until they understand it. Makes sense? Think about it!

Stress in the office. Tension with workmates. Weeks of work and results not in sight. My 23 December 2009 office-ially ended at 4pm with turning the key after a two-hour chat with my colleague in nigeria discussing the ups and downs of leadership. Now leaving campus to pick my christmas present at the post office and be home at six.

At least so I thought.

Nairobi is not much different from Frankfurt on a 23rd of December. P E O P L E everywhere.

I only reach halfway through town when the strongest thunderstorm of the year started. A full hour I share square meters of pavement with around 50 people and their last minute shopping. We are staring on roads that fill 15 cm high with water, cars that stop moving and busses that block the junctions. We start talking about politics, travelling, christmas, family. And finally I answer the question what I am doing in Kenya. Wow. The old sir next to me went to egypt on exchange through AIESEC in 1975!

We exchange numbers, I move on to the supermarket.

Dripping wet I search for some groceries then go to the matatu stop. Where there are no mats but a 3 or even 4 digit amount of people waiting for the same. In the next two hours I get to know the lady next to me, we nearly get friends. One fourteen-seater-vehicle after the other comes announcing three times the usual price (Githurai! Mia hamsini!) and still people fight to enter. By now its dark and as expected the rain has caused a power cut in town. From all sides I am told how well integrated I am into Kenya.
Notice: Waiting for a ridiculously organized transport system makes
you attractive.

More and more busses come, the waiting crowd gets less.
At eight my bro and mum call, I direct then to where the mats are.
During my year in kenya you have already sensed that they are not always found on one spot.

I get on a bus with the lady and just when we leave, daniel and mum arrive. I figure they would get on the next bus and i see them at home. My bus decides to take the most crowded road in town and it takes me 2 more hours to arrive at home. In fact dani calls me from home while we are still stuck in town. Crazy. Our driver took the wrong road… People are exhausted and falling asleep on their seats, their phones on their laps.
I think I should be the first white thief in nairobi and get rich (people say i wud rather die trying).

Instead I facebook half the way, read Germans complaining about the train being late for 45 minutes and Kenyans discussing the weather. (“God blessed us… In an unusual manner”) and its results in nine months.

When I get off the bus, my jeans have dried, my mind is relaxed and I am in christmas mood. But my present is still in the post office.

Six hours for 15km distance. Stories for a whole week.

These days only happen down here.

At least so I think.

You know who you are

17 Dec

Nikisoma name yako i get excited. Mpaka March seems too long kwa kuona. Siwezi kungoja kutouch mikono yako. Natumaini unajua kudance. Chatting na wewe ni kama i knew u kutoka kitambo. Uko na serious game, mazee. Niko sure utanisort. Nakurespect tu sana. Cant wait!


7 Dec

I just realized that there are a lot of languages mixed in my head

Daily life… English
Cooking in the kitchen… Kikuyu
Trip to TZ…Kiswahili
Chatting with my friend in Togo… French
Mixing it with… Spanish
Learning new words… Ewe
E-Mails with my parents… German
Totally forgot my… Polish

Tanzania in 8 days

4 Dec

AIESEC in TZ invited me to chair (=moderate and coordinate) a conference in Zanzibar for 150 of their members. So after weighing my options, I decided to take a bus (2,500 KSh) on Wednesday morning with some of my members and interns instead of flying (350 Euros). No water in the hostels at Uni of Nairobi in the night before, so I arrive a bit smelly and late (taxi had tyre problems) at the bus. Even a bit later is one of my interns, her taxi didnt come at all. So we make the whole crew wait for a mzungu (ironic) and leave Nairobi around 6.30. After passsing the border (50 USD for the visa, walking to TZ via foot, group picture at the sign, I love being white) we have 800 km left. Seveveral breakdowns (always a good chance to buy snacks and ice cream and be welcomed by locals) and discussions with our busmates later we arrive in Dar at midnight.

Dar es Salaam

The heat is incredible, the word sweat cannot exactly cover what we feel when getting of the bus.

A group of AIESECers is picking us up, they take us to the AIESEC house. No time to hesitate, we go to a party where we drink (Kilimanjaro is better than Tusker!!) and dance until 4. Knowing that we have to leave to the ferry at 9 I dont bother sleeping but just dose a bit before we prepare breakfast for the 30 guys who slepts at the house with us. Oh. And shower (bucket shower of course). Discovering around 25 mosquito bites on each (!) foot in the morning I realize this is not Nairobi.

The Conference

A newies and oldies conference at Zanzibar, that sounds amazing. We take the ferry (immigration office when arriving in zanzibar) and arrive in another world. Primarily muslim villages, beaches, harbors, fish everywhere.

Of course we run late becacuse the hotel had not prepared the site, so I start cutting the agenda. I am so used to this by now. I laugh when looking back at my first conference in Portugal when I thought at he agenda is not running smoothly.

Meanwhile I work with the 17 headed trainers team, mainly AIESEC leaders from UG, TZ and Kenya. We organize ourselves to an extend that the conference can start. The mood is extraordinary, the feeling of being in a holiday place makes everyone smile. Dances and shouts from the different LCs, we start the sessions late and finish even later. It is after midnight when the party stats and we shuttle the people home around 2am.

A quick faci meeting at 7.30 in the morning and we kickoff the main day of the conference. The more experienced members discuss their personal leadership journey and encourage each other. I realize once again that this is why I love AIESEC and dedicate my time to it.

Minor changes in the agenda, we have to incorporate some outdoor activities, this weather is just to awesome. Some rounds of truth or dare later we continue the sessions. At 10 the electricity disappears and now I realize the motivation of the new members. They write their proposals and discuss around the Empowering Africa Program without light and air condition using their phones as torches. We finish the content at around 11.30pm. The party on the second night is way nicer, we leave around 4, joking the whole night. In fact noone had a beer to much, its an amazing dicipline and family feeling.

Throughout the conference I really connect to one of the MC members in TZ, his main motto “Life was meant to be so easy, its only humans who are trying to make it complicated” makes us laugh at different times.

I sleep from 6, just to make sure people have left the hotel at 8 to go back to the conference room.

After delivering last content we close the conference with personal discovery and inspirational speeches. People are tired, the newies are not used to our way of working and partying yet. So last mobilizations for roll-calls (dances) and then we go for the group picture (picture).

Post Conference Fun

The delegates leave around 2 for a beach and old town trip.

The MC of TZ asks me to join them for something else:

Another large east african conference is supposed to take place in February, we go and visit the probable venue. A danish biologist opened a school centre and created a unique and sustainable paradise. I am lost standing on the beach, watching the waves and feel like in a movie scene. But before we dare to dream, we need to discuss: How can we as students contribute to the local community in order for them to allow 300 youths to come to their village for 5 days?

He invites us for fruits and beer, we stay until past seven before we hesitantly (sana!) go back to the ferry.

So we finally get on the ferry and try finding a space. All seats are occupied so with a friend I decide to just camp with my Kanga on deck, the locals do the same. Is way cooler than inside the ship and as we expect people to get nauseous, its better to be in fresh air. I realize that I had slept 9 hours in the last 4 nights and just sleep on the uncomfortable flor until we arrive at 6. At least nobody steps on me and the people who have to vommit use their paperbags. Life was meant to be so easy.

Back in Dar

In the evening we have a three hour post meeting to discuss our logistical challenges, suggest changes to agenda and sessions for next time. I have the feeling that there is a great talent pipeline in AIESEC Tanzania and the years to come will see great growth.

That night I finally sleep for 10 hours (interrupted only be the heat and a short trip to the bus to drop of the first Kenyans who leave…). I get the chance to read emails (free wireless LAN at the Uni of Dar es Salaam) for 3 hours. I reply the most important of my 204 new messages. Work seems to go well in Nairobi. People say they miss me and I should come home quickly, otherwise they come and get me. I send invites to two events for the upcoming weekend and then return to my Dar reality… Fruits, talking to people, mosques calling for prayers everywhere, nice meat, Fries in eggs (Chips Mayai) lots of dust on the road. Somehow I think the traffic infrastructure is better than in Nairobi, but there is no music in the matatus (which they call DallaDalla and who cost 250 T-Shings whereever you go).

Someones who plans a trip ot Kenya, ask me via email whether reports are true that african toilets are squat seats, full of urin and water on the floor and dont have doors. I laugh out loud and read it to my friends. They are actually offended and disappointed by such a report about their continent. But I realized long ago that “Africa” (Pls refer again to the article) is large and diverse when you are there, but looks tiny on the map and in the eye of large parts of the west.

Another day goes by like this, small shopping here and there, visiting dorm rooms and talking to members. We strategize how Kenya and TZ and woFood and always lots of cold water. Anyways this city is to hot and now I estimate 80 itchy spots on my body. Going back to Nairobi with highland climate sounds alluring and yet so boring.

The last night we spend talking outside the house on the couch, watching the ful moon behind the palm trees. Having beer we forget the time. Life was meant to be so easy!

So today it is wednesday and I am in the bus back to Nairobi. The day starts at 5.35, that alarm bell did not do its job. The bus is supposed to leave at 6, real quick shower, the two guys take my bag, we run trough a tropical rain to the taxis and of to the busstage. “Mama, Twende”, says fthe employer of DarExpress, when ticking my name on his list (at least he does not call me Mzungu!)

Goodbye to my two friends, see you for christmas or the next conference in February. Thanks for the invitation and will deinitely only say positive things. Yes, will let you know when I fika Nairobi. And for sure miss you too.

I get on the bus, 6.30, we leave.

How is travelling in Tanzania?

When our bus (DarExpress, 50,000 TSh) queues for a police stop, around 30 sellers of gods come to sell biscuits, cold water, shoes, fruits or eggs. You simply buy through the window. My neighbour brings fried Sweet Banana, without a word passes me a piece and continues staring in the other direction. When I ask him whether he is full, he says no. In Africa food has to be shared, so I eat anyways. Its tamu (“sweet” which equals tasty), by the way 🙂

The heat makes me fall asleep and around 10.30 we stop for early lunch break at a restaurant. 2 Chapatis (500 TSh each) and a big bottle of water (1000), then I prepare myself for bargaining with the fruit sellers. 4 Mangos and 6 Tangerines for 1000 TSh, there is nothing much to discuss..

Oh, the toilets. No water on the floor. I am happy not to find a regular toilet, as squatting to me seems more clean anyways. But I find paper, for free and a hook to put my bag. Am really thinking hard about how this continent is presented in western guidebooks.

We continue with our trip through rural areas, different beautiful leandscapes, pass Arusha at 3.30 where we pick up a very annoying preacher until we reach Namanga and the border at 5.30. Kwaheri Tanzania, niko sure nitarudi!

More pics here: