Kenya Notes – From Langata Estates to River Road

On the glorious morning, we took off from Langata Estates to River Road, Nairobi where I was to board a bus to Nyabugogo, Kigali. It turned out to be complex and longer a journey than I had rather expected. I got to Nyabugogo tired and worn out.

My host in Nairobi, Nii Kenny was one of the best I have seen of a Ghanaian abroad. His opened arms and willingness to ensure my comfort emphasized the Ga (native people of Accra, the capital city of Ghana) folklore slogan and practice “may strangers be added unto us.” Like myself, he is a Ga whose international employment has taken him to Kenya where he resides with his lovely family. I was introduced to him by one of my cousins in America. They were classmates at Accra Academy; the school of my father.

Interesting, as at youth, I never liked Accra Academy that much because I wasn’t inspired by the ways of my father and therefore did not want to attend same school he attended. Adulthood has thought me so much; if I could turn back the hands of time, Accra Academy would be one of my choicest secondary schools. I have grown to understand my father better. Sometimes, we mortals have no control over the vicissitudes of life. Usually, we hurriedly judge only to be confronted later by the same issues we misjudged.       

Nii Kenny and I were supposed to have known each other through childhood escapades since we lived in same communities in Accra, age group, and attended schools in same vicinities and region at same years.  The Ga spirit of accommodating people exceeds the normal. The Ga people give their all to the comfort of strangers to their own peril.

Driving from Langata Estates to River Road revealed so much of the commonalities of Africans…our ways of life. The African anywhere is the same. We are from the same stock. Our commonalities in our approach to life far outweigh our differences. Our ways of life is a combination of a blessing in good sense of the word and a challenge to the frustrations of our slow paced development.   

What struck me in that particular instance which evoked flashes of same occurrences in Accra, Lagos and Johannesburg was the frequent confusion at crossroad junctions. Driving out of Langata Estates to the highway of Nyoho Sports Stadium; one of the venues for the CANN 2018 football tournament, cars from the four directions of the roads could not have a common understanding among the drivers; who goes before the other. The absence of traffic light at such intersections is a frequent difficult for many motorists.

After few minutes of honking and yelling at each other by the drivers in the intersection; some local residents came to direct a smooth flow. Soon we drove into the Nyoho Sports Stadium highway. There was heavy traffic. Street hawkers were busy about their businesses. I bought two locally made Kenya branded slippers for my little boys.

The traffic was intense. Cars moved an inch in every two minutes. Along the roadside were two men walking by. One was smoking cigarette. The rings and curves of the puffed smoke from his twisted tongue and turned lips reminded me of childhood years in Mamprobi and Jamestown. Embassy, Diplomat and Rothmans King Size were the popular cigarettes. On roaming the neighbourhoods in search of football matches, we were frequently sent by smoking adults to go buy cigarettes. Sometimes on your return, they asked you to go light it. They instruct you to pull a few strokes of the filter to ensure it does not die by the time you returned. They were quick to instruct us to puff the smoke and not inhale to avoid chocking.

Looking back, I am inclined to believe that some of my childhood friends who later took to smoking may have been influenced by the childhood acts precipitated by those adults in the neighbourhoods. Some went on to become drug addicts. Their lives were destroyed at childhood by unsympathetic and most vicious adults you only sought their pleasure at the detriment of innocent children.

One of my elder brothers frequently told the story of how during the under counter selling era in Ghana after the 1981 coup d’état. One employee, Omonde of the Pioneer Tobacco Company gave stolen packets of cigarettes from work to Jack for safe keeping. Later when Omonde demanded the packets of cigarette to sell, Jack responded “I have smoked all” in a manner and tone as the native Ga man will say it. It was the case of having given a fish to the cat for safe keeping.

Finally, River Road was in sight. Nii Kenny had spent too much time than expected. He dropped me off the corner of the junction since driving into River Road means another two hours of his time. The higlidipiglidi of River Road can drain the most tolerant person.

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