Lani Holmberg, winner of the Exposing Hunger, Capturing Solutions photo competition, is in Kenya and Zimbabwe to visit ActionAid and AFAP programs that are helping to empower smallholder farmers, especially women, to face the challenges of food insecurity and climate change.
Lani's photo stories from Africa will form the centrepiece of the Exposing Hunger: Capturing Solutions Photo Exhibition on World Food Day, Oct 16th at Tap Gallery in Sydney.
My first hour Kenya involves a bargain and a break-in.
The touch down at Nairobi airport is so smooth I’m tempted to give the pilot a standing ovation. A good sign for the week ahead I think to myself. Then I pick up my luggage to discover the lock and zip buckle has been busted off by bolt cutters. Hhhmm. I decide to ignore this incident as a second omen, best focus on the positives. On a quick inspection it’s clear someone has gone through my bags but nothing seems to be missing which is a relief.
I had been warned that J’Burg Airport is notorious for thieves going through checked luggage for steal-worthy items. Runners are apparently a popular item to go missing but luckily for me it seems tripods, reflectors and softboxes are not such an attractive steal. I did notice my first aid kit syringe box had been opened so perhaps the incident was as innocent as security checking to see what was the what with my pointy objects. I’m going with that theory anyway and look forward to finally fulfilling my dream of glad-wrapping my bag on the next leg.
The hotel is located close to the ActionAid Kenya office in Westlands, which requires a long journey through Nairobi in heavy afternoon traffic. The road is busy and polluted and a thick haze hangs over the city. The city doesn’t feel as big or modern as Johannesburg but has certainly upped the anti on chaos. Cars, buses, trucks and people blend together across multiple lanes in both directions.
First time in Kenya? My driver asks as I tuck my bag under my shirt swiftly as we stop at an intersection. Yes, I grinned sheepishly. Ah, you will find love for Kenya by the end of your stay, he says. It is safe and the people are friendly.
We find some space and pick up some speed, wandering across lanes as it suits and letting the air through the open windows cool us down. I’m surprise by how many trees there are – long stretches and parks of greenery to break up the dusty urban sprawl. But the open road doesn’t last for long and again we’re swallowed by hot horn-happy traffic at an intersection.
A car with two young guys pulls up alongside our taxi at an intersection, yelling and gesturing at me and the driver in Swahilli. Nothing about the exchange seems sinister and when I look over to my driver I find him chuckling, before yelling something back and speeding off.
What happened? I ask. They want to have you as their passenger he laughed. I told them you were charming and beautiful… and that I would trade you for one million dollars. He takes his eyes off the road for a second and looks my dead in the eye, US dollars of course, he says then laughs again. Seems like a bargain to me.
Now trying to stay awake and wait for Mishka from ActionAid to find me. Might just lie down for a wee little nap…