16 February 2009
Kenya holiday reading
One of my more childish habits is to take books on holiday that vaguely relate to the location – so I read Captain Corelli’s Mandolin on a Greek island and Death on the Nile while cruising along the Nile in a paddle steamer very similar to the one in the film.
We’ve just got back from a couple of weeks in Kenya, where the obvious book to take was Barack Obama’s Dreams from My Father.
Apart from being a fascinating and well-written story, it had the unexpected bonus of prompting staff in the game lodges to engage me in conversation about the new president. The pride of Kenyans in Obama’s success is palpable and I can’t imagine that I'd have learnt about this or about how the Luo, his father’s tribe, are regarded by those from other tribes, if I’d been reading something else.
Nor would I have learnt from one of my hosts which nationality of visitors he regarded as the most difficult - where 'difficulty' was defined as their insisting on getting out of his Land Rover to be photographed with (highly dangerous) buffalo. When he told them they were breaking the most important rule of all and asked them to get back into the vehicle for their own safety, they refused by saying "we've come here to see the animals, not you."
News of their misconduct quickly reached the game wardens, who came to the guide's rescue by rounding up the tourists and depositing them on the first plane back to Nairobi.
This has provided me with a new dinner party quiz game, which is to invite people to guess which country they came from. Visitors to the blog are welcome to join in by adding their own suggestions, though I haven't yet decided whether or not to make the answer available to a wider public!