AFRICA: A Day In My Life – Moto-Taxis, Matatus & South Sudanese Peace Activists
11:15am – Streets of Nakuru, Kenya
“I’m going to Nairobi to facilitate a workshop,” I yell over the wind. I explain to my friendly motorcycle taxi driver, Dennis, that I’ll be back in 2 days.
I hadn’t been in the country 24 hours when I’d been invited to co-facilitate a 2-Day workshop for SouthSudanese peace activists.
I’d said, ”Yes” without hesitation, because I know this is the kind of work I’m here (on the planet) to do.
12:15pm – Downtown Nakuru
“Seat number one,” I hear as a hand on my back pushes me towards the front seat of this dirty old taxi van called a matatu.
I take my seat opposite the driver and roll up the window a bit. Don’t need anyone snagging my laptop.
I take a deep breath preparing for a harrowing journey dodging potholes and on coming vehicles.
4:30pm – Downtown Nairobi
I feel all eyes on me as I pass through a sea of Kenyans. I’m a ”Mzungu,” or white traveler. I’ve got my big pack strapped to my back and my smaller one to my chest.
“Yaya. Where can I get a bus to Yaya,” I ask a random guy on the corner. He points me in one direction and as I thank him another man puts his hand on my back and turns me in the other direction.
As I follow the second man, I put my hand in my pocket to fish for a tip. I want to have it ready beforehand, so he and others don’t see me pull out a wad of larger bills.
5:15pm – Bus to Yaya
“You are banished from this house for three days!” comes the booming voice amidst sounds of an argument and a scuffle.
Kenya has suffered another act of terrorism, and the entire bus is listening closely to the rhetoric from the politicians on the radio at full volume.
“Mr. Speaker,” comes another voice in Kenyan accent. ”I rise firstly to condemn these acts of violence, and to offer my condolences to the victims and their families.”
I’m feeling glad that the bus has taken off, and surprised that I have learned so much peace and patience from traveling for the last four years–and that I’ve learned not to use the news media as a barometer for actual danger.
9:30pm – Bedroom
I finish a Skype call to an African American man around eighty years of age who has wanted to come to Africa all his life. I learn he’s booked his ticket and made his payment for our upcoming Safari!
I’m resting in my cozy bed provided by Robyn, who I first went with to Kenya in 2006, and her Kenyan partner, Irungu.
There’s a knock on my door. It’s Irungu. He was instrumental in bringing about peace in 2007 when Kenya was facing political turmoil and acts of genocide.
It’s time to prepare tomorrow’s agenda. It will be Day 1 of a two-day workshop for South Sudanese peace activists whose people are now facing civil war and genocide all over again.
I’m feeling excited, and inspired to learn from a man whose life has been spent in NGO sector and community organizing.
11:00pm – Kitchen Table
We’re still working on the agenda. We’ve never facilitated together, and we’re inventing this workshop last minute.
I ask him to trust me when it comes time for me to facilitate the conversations and exercises about Stand vs Position.
I’m feeling grateful for this opportunity and committed to serve the activists and this man who will lead the workshop.
I’m not used to being an assistant, and know it will be good for me.
8:00am – Conference Room
I pour a cup of coffee as the workshop is about to start. I’ve never faced what these people are facing. Will they accept me and what I offer them?
I’m feeling nervous and excited. I breathe deeply and remember Who they are for me, and Who I am for them.
8:45am – Conference Room
I’d suggested Irungu have people introduce themselves by saying who the people are that they’re most concerned for, and what they are standing for.
I know it will start us off with a heartfelt context of honor, but I’m not prepared for how it will impact me personally.
“The people I am most concerned about are the children, my family and all the people of SouthSudan,” says the South Sudanese man to my right. “I AM COMMITTED TO ENDING THE WAR.”
BOOM! I am hit in the chest with this feeling I call Honor. Just then it hits me… WHAT AM I COMMITTED TO? I’ve been traveling the world for four years, enjoying a life relatively free from commitment.
I realize there are two groups of people who I am most concerned for: my immediate family, and those who are standing for others.
When it comes around to me, I express this, and then I share how I am committed to ending the Wars that take place inside
of ourselves and inside of our families, and that I am committed to standing for the people here in this room.
This was a very exciting day in my life… My books are coming along, and the safari is approaching…