It was only a few days ago we were glad to see the back of 2012 and celebrated the coming in of 2013, hoping it would be more prosperous, peaceful and an improvement on the past.
While we’ve been in Kenya for New Years before, it was different this time because we’re actually living here, not just visiting.
It was the first time I can say I got home sick for Sydney, for the entire day. I thought watching the fireworks online might help, but it made it worse. I missed the beach, the cafes by the beach, and being able to walk down the beach any time I wanted. I missed the conveniences of living in a first world country, like internet all of the time.
By the end of the day we had a large group of people over for a good Aussie barbeque, some fireworks and an outdoor movie (Mission Impossible 4), and the homesickness had gone.
It was interesting to hear from different people at the barbeque, from 5 different countries talking about their usual New Years Eve habits. What interested me most though was what has happened in Kenya over the last few years.
The last elections were held in 2007 and resulted in a lot of deaths, tribal fighting, destruction of homes and businesses and overall civil unrest. It all kicked off on Boxing Day. I remember being in Australia on the phone and internet for the whole day making sure my university students from here were all okay. I remember some saying that there were gunshots everywhere and they weren’t sure if their family members were even alive.
Move a few days ahead and apparently some people were letting off fireworks, the really noisy ones, which when people are already traumatised, is totally wrong. Hence, fireworks are now illegal. But, they are still sold in shops – go figure.
We had a few sparklers and even some loud fireworks which totally freaked out the little kids.
Kenya seems to be a country of irony. There are armed police everywhere, but their AK47’s are so old they probably wouldn’t even fire properly. In fact forty something police were killed by cattle rustlers not that long ago. If they had working guns, they would’ve had the upper hand.
People are now fined $1,000 if they don’t have a first aid kit, emergency triangle and fire extinguisher in the car. However, you can get away without your brakes, indicators or lights not working.
Guards at the malls check the boot of your car for explosives but in reality if you wanted to blow up a place you could put them under your seat.
Of course, the best one is that there are a few sets of traffic lights, but no one seems to obey them.
I’m sure the shine of a new year is fading for many already but we’ve decided to embrace all the differences of living in a new country until we can really call it ‘home’. I’ll probably watch the fireworks of Sydney online again, but by Dec 2013 I am sure that I’ll simply shrug my shoulders at any new and whacky laws that come out and simply say TIA (This Is Africa).