Marion Schneider

Kenya

I have been in Kenya for more than two weeks now. I arrived on December 20, 1995, so one should think I would have had enough time to get used to it. This is unfortunately not the case. I have the feeling that I would need at least six months to get accustomed to living here. It is the climate which makes it so difficult for me – and this climate, I have been told, hardly changes all year long. There are two or three months of rain from April to June; otherwise, the temperature, the air pressure, and lots of other aspects of the weather stay more or less the same.

When I got out of the airplane upon my arrival, I had the feeling that a big, hot, windy pressure was placed on me. Breathing seemed much more difficult; in many respects, activities slowed down to an absolute minimum. Comparatively, I now feel a bit better. I’m not feeling the pressure as much. But I’m staying at the ocean right now, it’s a cloudy and windy day, and I’m sitting in the shade.

Living here has been very exhausting for me during these past days. Just breathing and moving, and to doing the things one usually does – including sleeping – seem to be so tiring that after dinner I usually cannot keep my eyes open. I think I have never been so inactive, and at the same time felt so exhausted. In order to survive here for a longer period of time, my body would have to attain a different state of being, which it hasn’t reached yet. I cannot influence this state at all. I just have to cope and to survive.

Thinking and dreaming are easy here. I had some very intense dreams, whereas I usually rarely remember dreams at all. Here, I remember one dream per night, and they are all very intense dreams. My body would have to change its constitution to be able to lead a decent life here. I would have to lose some weight, and eat lighter and smaller meals. Maybe I will be able to change my habits in the future in order to cope more adequately the next time. I certainly would have to feel a lot lighter in order to be able to cope.

Regarding the country and its people, as far as I have gotten to know them up to now: Kenya is a friendly and pretty country. Its inhabitants call it a green country, and they all love it very much. It has everything one could think of: the sea, islands, mountains, woods and forests, savannas, fields, cattle and wildlife, more than forty different ethnic groups with extremely different lifestyles and attitudes, two major cities – Mombasa and Nairobi – Mombasa on an inland and a typical seaside city –, a beloved president who could not resist having the major airport in Mombasa named after him, schools, universities, churches, and mosques – not to mention its rivers and lakes.

Kenya is famous for its safaris, its coffee, its tea, and for Mount Kenya. That is already quite a lot, and there is a chance that even more of its attributes can become famous. I have the impression that the people themselves are this country’s most precious resource: they are so friendly and intelligent, so open-minded and willing to build. So there should now be political initiatives to direct this energy.

If Kenya wants to attract more tourists, as the president said in his New Year’s speech, then there should be a national campaign to clean up and keep clean all of the country, to build up a network of wastebins throughout the country, to erect a daily garbage disposal force in every city, every town, every village, to educate people to get rid of their garbage only in special baskets, and not to just throw it away anywhere anymore.

If Kenya wants more business, it has to guarantee a stable, reliable political system, law and order, and all the institutions necessary to maintain it, a policy of encouraging the efforts and risks of building businesses, and all the necessary human, political, bureaucratic, and financial support to make them grow. All of the necessary resources are there. So we will see how national politics will manage.

I should add that I did not even see half of Kenya – only the northern part of the seashore, and the region up to Nairobi – the major Game Park, as it is called.

January 5, 1996