kenya: prologue

I have been to Africa three times previously and have experienced nothing like it. My first trip in 1992 introduced me to the immense gap and segregation between white and black in Johannesburg; my third trip was part of my honeymoon, in 2002, where I spent a joyous 5 days touring Kruger National Park in South Africa with my newlywed, and where we experienced animals in their natural surroundings in a new and inspiring way: groups of baby hyenas, inquisitive to the jeep, inquisitive to everything; hippo bathing in the river outside the lodge and journeying right up to the balcony in early morning.

But my middle, more involved journey was in 1998, where I spent 5 months working and living in a small mining community 2 hours distant from Jo'burg. Here I learned the value that the country itself wields; the beauty, the disturbed earth, the un-industrialisation and domesticity that overpowers all external forces; the sheer insular back-to-roots ideology that even permeated the Afrikaans white community as well as the tribes. The idea of reliable High Street seems as abhorrent to them as it should do to us.

I resented my leaving of Africa, in that, as a rebellious 18 year old, I tried to stay, to make my own way. I acceded and eventually came home, and 'fitted in' fairly well over the next few years at university. But there is no forgetting. You cannot fail to remember the clarity and enormity of African starlight, nor can you forget the kindness, and hopefulness, even in the face of huge adversity, that many undernourished peoples have there. They have their songs to sing, and this is mine.