It could never be me.

That’s what we think when we hear about the coronavirus right? At least for some people.

It could simply be our hopeful thinking or maybe, just our naivety onto how the universe really works. Evil and tragic events seem so far stretched. Of course no one wants to contract a deadly virus, we simply think ‘those things don’t happen to people like me’ until they actually do.

We very well know that as a country, we are NOT prepared at all to deal with the coronavirus. As a coping mechanism, Kenyans, being helpless most times, do what they do best; get to social media and rant on twitter, complain about the government and make memes like we always do during all kind of tragedies.

I can’t speak for the government or the Kenyans. But I can speak for my people, ‘the anxious society of Kenya’ (don’t google it, it doesn’t exactly exist). So, since the start of the virus, my mother has woken me up severally in my sleep, as early as 4 a.m. in the morning so that I can listen to an audio, a video or a WhatsApp message about the Corona virus. A few times, the messages had claims that the virus was already in our country but the patients are being treated discreetly (This was before the first case was reported). Struggling to keep my eyes open enough to read the blurry messages, my mother says with a finality, ‘Cancel all your meetings. All the events you were to go to. You can’t risk it.’ 

‘Ma…’ I start to object but she immediately interrupts me with how much we are underestimating this virus and how we think ‘it can never be us’. Her tone is really high for morning. You can hear the panic in her voice; alarming, and the utmost frustration in her voice because we still want to go to work despite the ‘danger’. I try to calm her down, recommending her to take a break from Whatsapp because it is, very evidently, hyping up her anxiety.

I am familiar with anxiety because I am my mother’s daughter. But whereas I am 98% anxiety, hers is double that. While I advise her on how to filter the information she receives on the virus, I am texting my friends who are travelling or about to travel, asking again and again if they think it is safe enough to travel at this time, whether they are taking the necessary precautions and if they said their prayers for protection.

Someone out there is walking to their airplane seat, while a panic attack surfaces because now, ‘I am not only scared of a turbulence, I am scared of breathing.’ Another is contemplating on how to humbly reject the hand shake from that very important client who has just flown in from Finland because, ‘Oh my God, do I even know in which continent Finland is? How can I be sure this handshake is indeed safe? Is this million dollar deal worth the handshake?’ Another is at the airport to pick their relative coming in from Middle East and the thought is, ‘Would they be offended if I refused to hug them?’ 

It is a crazy time to be alive let alone be moving around. 2020 came in with a huge wave, full of tragedies.

Image result for 2020, world war 3 threats, kobe died, Australian bushfire, earthquake, coronavirus-meme

Well, it’s just March and we all want to know; who pissed off 2020 like this?!!

I mean, even pilgrimage to Makkah by Muslims has been paused for now. That is something that will definitely go down in the books of history because throughout my entire short life I never heard of Makkah rejecting pilgrims apart from the times the place was too crowded to accommodate everyone. As it is, masajids are being closed temporarily and Jum3ah prayers are cancelled. Makkah prayers are being led with very few ma’mumas. The thought that Ramadhan might arrive on us while still handling the virus is so heartbreaking 🙁 Imagine a Ramadhan with no taraweh or tahajjud prayers. Imagine having no spiritual gatherings and iftaar for the entire month!! Everything seems to be at a standstill. Olympics might be cancelled!! Several other sporting events have already been cancelled or postponed. The global economy is being greatly affected. Traveling is now an extreme sport, yet the very low ticket prices seem to be so tempting. The best yet riskiest time to travel, aye? Some people are actually doing it! Others are rejoicing in their PJ’s as they work from home while students enjoy having classes being cancelled for about an entire month!

Nonetheless, as every day passes, we realize how real this pandemic is.

Yet, have you ever thought of how much rougher it is for the Asians right now, ALL OVER THE WORLD? They not only have to deal with the virus but also with the stigma and racism due to the origin of the virus. The dilemma is; how do we protect ourselves without seeming racist? Where do we draw the line between seeking protection and being out-rightly racist?! (Something to ponder on)

When the year began and everyone was frantic about it, one of my lecturers studying in China sent us a video to assure us that she was safe and far from the affected areas and that the main limitation was having to stay indoors and everything being done online at the moment. This could be very well a horror movie, only it is real life. Pretty much like ‘The Bird Box’ only this time, the mask is on our noses/mouths instead of eyes.  ‘If you touch it, you die.’

While the whole world is panic buying masks, toilet papers and sanitizers, we too as Kenyans have joined the bandwagon. But other than that, we are investing our time into our greatest talent; making memes!! Here are some memes sourced from: https://eaglenewskenya.com/

Image may contain: one or more people, possible text that says 'Corona virus: s:*gets into Kenya.* Locusts: @fantacymemes Look at me. I'm in Charge here.'
Image result for kenyan memes on world bank and corona
Image result for italy: lockdown, kenya: don't panic, wash your hands

Best of all, is this video clip of the shortest horror movie! (Not made in Kenya)

The other day I was in a public vehicle and had a scratch in my throat. I had the urge to cough but I could visualize how heads would turn towards me if I did. And the horror that would strike them after that. To cut the long story, I did not cough. And now with us Kenyans, we don’t even know how we will survive. In some areas there is lack of water, the matatus are usually filled to the brim, many Kenyans live in slums or very close neighbourhoods. We can’t afford to work from home because majority of Kenyans are casual labourers and need to go to their work places. We have so many people who are vulnerable and at high risk of contracting the virus if it keeps spreading.

I imagine all the people living in the affected areas, having to live with only what they have. I imagine those in quarantine. Those who are separated from their loved ones during this phase; maybe forever. The people working in transport industries, airports, the bus/air crew, the really crowded areas like immigration offices. The people working in markets or using public transport or dealing with many people every day and most importantly, our doctors. In short, everyone. It could be us.

We pray that this tragedy ends soon and that we stay protected because for us Kenyans really, it is only God who can help us.

Parting Note: Pray. Pray for the whole world. That this epidemic ends soonest. That 2020 becomes a better year for all of us. Show love to all the doctors, nurses and medics working so hard to contain this virus and who continue to work everyday despite being at higher risk; pray for them too! Wash your hands. Protect yourselves. Don’t panic-buy; think of others. Watch the news from reliable sources. Don’t believe everything you hear until you confirm. Don’t forward messages until you confirm. Don’t be part of the panic perpetrators. Don’t be racist. Reach out to ensure your loved ones are safe. Be grateful for being alive. Avoid crowded areas, don’t be a hero. Stay safe people!

P.N 2: Duas for you because I honestly care:


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This article (edited version) was first published on ‘Travel Log Magazine’ an insert of Standard Newspaper on 5/3/2020

With Muslims, everything works in a very organized, systematic way. There is a manual for everything; how to do it, when to do it, where to do it. Very detailed and straight forward. Now the struggle comes when you are out and about and applying your way of life sometimes seems like an impossible task.

There are common struggles every Muslim explorer (even just hanging out in your own locality) will relate to, whether they are from across the globe from us or just your next door neighbour. Here are a few:

  • The empty-bottle carriers: One of the biggest struggles Muslims face while traveling, is having to walk around with an empty bottle because there is no water in the toilets. Thus, one of the essentials during packing is that empty bottle that you’ll use to fill in water at the toilet sinks, sometimes back and forth, to use for clean-up after the call of nature. It is quite amusing though. Don’t these hotels (and sometimes airports) know that Muslims are quite a majority as well? How then have they never thought of making it a better experience for Muslims?

Side note: Empty bottles because airports don’t allow passengers to have full water bottles. Otherwise, we travel with our small filled up bottles quite often.

  • A little yoga: It is time for prayers so you go take ablution. In your mind though, you know too, it’s time for a little yoga. There is no proper area to take ablution except the sink and thus when it is time to clean your feet, you have to raise them up into the sink to wash them. This is in between staring at the door hoping that no worker will walk in and see you in what seems to be quite an uncivilized manner, at the same time hoping you do not hurt your hip while your leg being that high up. The struggle is real.
  • Prayer room you ask? What’s that? : Ironically, even in Mombasa where we have majority Muslims, many hotels never think of providing this. Now Muslims mostly have to arrange their picnic times post prayers or in between prayer times because ‘we won’t get a private room or a clean place to pray.’ The only other options are: Either we go for the picnic and not pray the entire day or not go for the picnic altogether. Such a shame!
  • Sometimes you get the advantage of having booked your own room and can pray in it. But because you can only afford a cheap hotel, the only space you have to pray is on top of your bed. Yes. There is not even enough space to place your small prayer mat on the floor. So you climb on your bed and now start thinking of which is the ‘qiblah’ (the direction Muslims face during prayers). You have no internet bundles to check a compass so you run about the place asking for any Muslim who can show you the qiblah or ask anyone who knows where North is (because North is the direction we face). You remind yourself to download the ‘Muslim-Pro’ app during your next adventure. Or perhaps should we call them misadventures?

Side note: Muslim Pro is an app that alerts the Muslim on prayer time, shows them the qiblah amongst other things.

  • You crave meat. But can you afford to crave it? : You are at the restaurant. It’s a whole new environment for you. You don’t know the cultures of these people, so you ask, “Is this meat halaal?” The first waiter doesn’t know so they call another waiter. “Is this meat halaal?” You ask again, but no one seems to be sure. Or perhaps they don’t really understand what halaal is and why you want halaal meat so badly. After several attempts of trying to find out, you decide to order another meal altogether. So much for craving meat huh?!

Side note: Halaal means permissible according to Islamic law. Some meat is forbidden such as pork or birds of prey with claws. There is also laws on how the slaughtering should be done and what kind of animals to avoid entirely.

To be fair, we do have some locations that are religious-friendly and they try to make the experience as wholesome as possible. Meanwhile, we are enjoying our misadventures amidst our great explorations. When we finally get our perfect destinations, it’s over for you guys haha!

This article (edited version) was first published on ‘Travel Log Magazine’ an insert of Standard Newspaper on 9/1/2020

When you travel out of your country, for whatever reason, there will always be expectations imposed on you. Nothing will be said to you directly nor is there an old, smelly manuscript by the ancestors stating what is exactly expected of you. However, they still exist. And the moment you just step down from the airplane, your entire community awaits you.

1. Suddenly, you have become the elite of the community and being elite, comes with a price.

It doesn’t matter whether you went out of the country for studies or business or short holiday, especially when you currently live there, you are a different person of a different status now. And status comes with expectations; ‘when will you build your parents a kahouse at the farm at least they enjoy their old age?’ ‘Your uncle has been very ill. You should chip in in his medical bill.’ ‘Are you going to sponsor one of your siblings’ education now that you live in Australia?’

Now, no one really knows what you are doing there; the struggle, the high cost of living or even your earnings, but apparently, being out there somehow makes you wealthy. It could be so but perhaps not. Who cares to ask anyway?!

2. Your entire extended family and community that sometimes don’t even recognize you, expect gifts.

A few weeks or even months before your awaited arrival, the requests start coming in from your aunty who doesn’t really like you, your old friends you haven’t talked to in a year, your ex-neighbor who once did you a favor decades ago…you name it. Someone wants that designer perfume that isn’t available in Kenya, another wants a blow dryer they saw on TV, another wants a kasmall laptop tu. 

All this while, no one asks you whether you can afford it or not. Whether you have the ability to get the item or whether it will inconvenience you. Si uko ulaya? Haya! Deal with it!

3. Somehow, sometimes, a change of accent is considered betrayal of sorts.

‘So you went to live with the wazungus so now you know better eh? You can’t even speak like us anymore!’

Somehow, maintaining your accent equals to honouring your roots. So doing the opposite get people to gossip how your foreign accent is ‘pretential’ and ‘forced’ even though at their own seclusion, in front of their mirror, they try to imitate ‘your enhanced accent’ wishing they were you.

4. You MUST have adopted some of their mannerisms isn’t it?!

Queer questions will start streaming in, ‘I hear that there is an indigenous community there that eat crows, did you try it out too?’ ‘I heard that in their culture, they believe in unicorns, do you think they really exist?’ ‘There is a new Korean series, did you watch it while there?’

I mean, there MUST be something new you picked from them right?!

5. Come cook us a Turkish meal.

You’ve been in Turkey for how long again? 2 years?! You should prepare us a Turkish cuisine! I mean isn’t that the first thing after language that people learn in a new country?!

6. My friend, if your grandfather, your parent or any other individual was supporting you financially before, your travelling/living abroad cancels that automatically. You are now expected to act like a fully independent and a grown up finally! Your problems no longer exist and someone else definitely deserves the finances. I mean, who lives in Canada while being poor?! (even if you went to work there as a home care taker). You can never be broke. You can be broquè though; the elite, classic kind of lacking money. (It should be added on Modern dictionary!)

7. In fact, you are the loan guy now. You are the first person everyone thinks of when they are in trouble. The first person your reckless cousin calls when caught by the police for over-speeding. The first person to call when someone gets admitted to school. The first person invited to a baby shower or wedding. You are expected to act like a malfunctioning ATM machine.

The expectations come in different shapes and forms but the bottom line is this: for you to be respected, some of these expectations must be fulfilled. Once you gain the respect, no doubt, the entire community will be fond of you. Upon your arrival back home, you will be invited everywhere and be over-fed until you can barely walk on your two feet. You will be treated like a dignified individual even with people who never cared about you prior your ‘life-changing journey’. They will ask you for advice on the new business they want to start or anything else that you entirely have no idea about.

You will be forgiven for your otherwise unacceptable behavior. They will cut you some slack when you confront your elder with a rude tone, something that would otherwise have caused a hefty slap on your face. They will say things like, ‘He has been away for so long, the culture is different there’ and follow it with a moment of painful silence. Your younger cousins will call that privilege. The ones older than you will call it misuse of privilege.

When you are away, people will make video calls. The children will proudly tell their friends at school, ‘I have an aunty in London. Aha!’ That statement will be used as a means to gain friends, appear more likeable, bully other kids or threaten them. Family gatherings will be incomplete without you.

The chief of the mtaa will refer to you in the baraza meetings. Your mother will never refer to you by your name but instead say, ‘Si you know my eldest son? The one in Qatar, working as a manager?’ 

You are the pride of the community. Don’t let them down. Don’t forget your roots huh!


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This article (edited version) was first published on ‘Travel Log Magazine’ an insert of Standard Newspaper on 5th September, 2019.

Have you ever walked on the streets and seen someone selling very random things like belts or pesticides and thought to yourself, ‘How often do people buy such stuff? How much does this person earn at the end of the day? Is it ever enough? Are they living a miserable life? Are they content?’

Therapists will almost always advise their clients to take a walk as often as possible. This is because there is a lot to contemplate about once you step out of your home. There is so much growth to be experienced in going out, travelling, exploring…there is always a lesson to be learnt.

Here are some wonderful ways in which travel leads to inner growth:

1. Travel is the break you desperately need. Everyone needs a time-out from the normal daily pattern. Sometimes we get too engrossed in the routine, we forget how many parts of ourselves die within us or talents that remain unexplored or magic that will never be unleashed. With traveling, you get to interact with nature, breath in fresh air, watch sunrises and sunsets and take a boat ride across the ocean. It is an opportunity to break from all the city noise, the traffic jams, the toxic air, the fast foods; an opportunity for new experiences. Indeed a monotonous life is not worth being called life.

“I travel a lot; I hate having my life disrupted by routine.” – Caskie Stinnett

2. It pushes one out of their comfort zone. Now if you’re used to one particular thing in your locality and it is not available at this particular instance, you are left with no choice but to explore the other options you have. It pushes you to talk to strangers, ask for directions, taste food you wouldn’t otherwise taste and maybe even participate in group activities with people who don’t even speak the same language as you do. At this point, you are not at total liberty or in control to have things your way. You come face to face with change. You’d have to make sacrifices and compromises. You’d have to comply and obey rules of Foreign land. As they say, when you go to Rome, you do what the Romans do.

“Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard

3. It humbles you. Honestly it does, especially when you go out of your typical scenarios and locality. You meet people with intriguing stories, people who’ve fought hard and survived, people who struggle to make ends meet, people stuck in very heart breaking situations. You meet children hawking, begging you to buy from their nuts or cookies, you meet very old and frail men and women seated in intense heat, trying to earn from their own sweat; people who create their own happiness with the little they have and who are content despite what they lack.

It also gives one a very different perspective on life and people. It is a great reminder for one to be grateful, to appreciate what they have and to remember that always, there is someone going through worse than you do or what your community does.

“I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” – Mary Anne Radmacher

4. Exploration enhances your creativity and story-telling abilities. Being around nature, different culture, different people opens up an entire other world for you. You get to learn new things, do new things and experience new, exhilarating, thrilling adventures. You get to hear other people’s stories, you get new ideas and all the moments bring forth to you many possibilities.

“Travelling — it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta

5. An opportunity for introspection. One can’t possibly know everything about themselves if they stay all their lives stuck at the same place, same situations and with the same people. You know how they say if you want to truly know someone, you have to travel with them? This is why. You get to see their patience being tested, their immediate reactions, their excitement for trivial things, their mood during exhaustion, which foods they prefer or totally hate…Yet sometimes one doesn’t even know these things about themselves. It is not until they are in the situation itself, does one get to know who they truly are and what they feel deep inside. It makes one reflect and question themselves. This is the best chance for one to introspect and evaluate their emotions and behaviour.

“The best journeys in life are those that answer questions you never thought to ask.” ― Rich Ridgeway

Without travelling, without exploring, one doesn’t really get to experience the world in all its beautiful colours. You just get to see it in the shades of black, white and grey only. You don’t get to have life-changing encounters, or embrace humanity or appreciate the little things in life. You don’t get to taste kindness and witness love and light in human form. You don’t get to be amazed by the creations, by our similarities and great differences and how they make this world a more wonderful place. As the Moorish proverb goes, ‘He who does not travel does not know the value of men.’

Do not let financial constraints cage you in limited space. You don’t necessarily have to fly to a location across the continent for you to spread your wings and explore. Even sitting by the ocean some blocks away from your home or exploring your own locality can be therapeutic enough. We all need a breather, a moment to reflect and introspect.

“To travel is to evolve.” – Pierre Bernardo

Journeys are all fun and thrill until its past five hours on the road and you start realizing all the things you’d rather not. Like the baby who’s been crying sharply. You’ve been actively ignoring it but you no longer can. Or the lady in front of you who eats by the hour. She makes a point that you all know that she is eating, by the sound of the paper bags. Then there’s the man behind you whose legs are too long and keep bumping on your seat. A well-dressed, masculine man by your side is talking baby language and you wonder for a moment if he is someone’s boss. You can bet that they probably have never seen this soft side of their otherwise tough-looking boss. Stereotypes, I know! By this time you have done everything you can possibly do; eat, sleep, watch YouTube videos, chat, daydream, make a business plan, read a book, have a monologue, praise the Lord and eat. Did I mention eat?

There are usually two kinds of travellers in any kind of journey; those who mind their own business and those who don’t. Your current seat-mate is the former.

They would sit gracefully and put their earphones on. They would turn to the side and lay back on the seat. Neither would they say hi nor would they look to your side. You are invisible. Non-existent. They would avoid eye contact for whatever hours you are on the vehicle and play dead. They won’t ask your name or where you are headed to. They are the best kind of travellers in most cases. Well that is until you reach Mtito and you ask them to hold onto your paper bag while you go to the washroom. Then they give you that look of ‘Are you seriously about to leave your very aromatic chicken nuggets with a total stranger?’ There follows an awkward moment of silence; you standing there foolishly with your hand stretched out. Then you give them that look of ‘well you have a point’ and slowly drop your hand in disappointment. Before you leave, they stretch out theirs with no expression on their face. Your only other option is to carry your chicken nuggets to the washroom with you so you decide your cold seatmate is all you got.

The second kind is the super energetic one. The chatterboxes who seem to have been put on a mission to interrogate your entire life. They are all bright and sunlight even when your trip is during the dead night. They will have all sorts of conversations with you; the ‘cliché’ kind of ‘Don’t you feel too hot in that buibui?’ the small talk kind, ‘I am going for a business trip with this huge firm’, the ‘let-me-excavate-your-entire-history’ kind, ‘did your great grandfather migrate to Mombasa by ship during the 19th Century?’ You are too tired to even open your mouth. You try to be pleasant by giving very short answers with an enigmatic smile hoping they get the hint. But do they ever? On a brighter note, at least you know you can leave your chicken nuggets with them and they’d be happy to do it. Plus, it is not like you have anything better to do. If there is anytime boredom could catastrophically kill a human being, it would be now. So you just stare outside, the nursery rhyme ‘are we there yet’ playing in your head.

There is a terrible traffic jam ahead. A lot of dust particles. The driver is recklessly overtaking other reckless drivers. Sweat. Smelly garbage by the road. Exhausted faces. But as they say, life is as you make out of it. Because outside your window, there are zebras and giraffes walking gracefully, the people walking in the vast fields and you wonder where they are headed to, beautiful green lands during the day. There’s a mother playing with her baby’s fingers as she laughs cutely. The couple eating from the same plate. Beautiful conversations with strangers. The break of dawn just as you approach Nairobi. The lights everywhere. The sunrise. A magnificent sight! Huh! Life is not so bad anyway.


P.S Watch out for this space, in shaa Allah I will be posting all details & FAQ’s of my new book here. Stay tuned!

“It is on people for the sake of Allah to perform Hajj of his house, anyone who is able to undertake the journey to him.” (Qur’an: 2:196)

Join Al Muzney group for this important spiritual trip at reasonable prices and great package offers. For more details, check out the poster below.

*This was in the traffic jam 😀 *

Sunday, 4th November

I thought I was calm and composed about this trip. I wasn’t telling the world about it nor was I counting down the hours to the minute I board the plane. However, yesterday night I woke up thrice, went and put on the lights then went back to sleep. Woke up again and went back and put off the lights. The third time I put on the lights again. It was a very restless night. I woke hours later checked my phone, it read 5:33 a.m. I hurried to wake my dad’s room and informed him he is late for the morning prayer. My mother asks, “How comes we are not hearing the prayer going on in the mosque?”

“Perhaps they are done.”

My father wakes up and checks his phone.

“It is 3:33 a.m. not 5:33”

“Really?! But I HEARD the prayer going on in the mosque! And my phone confirmed that!”

“It is 5:33. Go back to sleep.”

I go back to my room and check the phone. It is truly 3 a.m. I sigh.

Anxiety Mahn 😀 I should have known that staying calm for me is impossible. But would you blame me really?

This was my first time being invited for an international writing workshop. A publishing fellowship by African Writers Trust (AWT).

First time meeting writers from different parts of Africa.

First time going to Uganda.

First time meeting the writing/publishing gurus.

First time boarding the plane.

Keep calm? Not a word in my dictionary.

The flight was amazing apart from the dizziness whenever the plane bumped a bit. My mother said I’ll be fine during my second flight. I wasn’t. During both the flights I was still holding onto the chair, thinking of all the things that could go wrong yet still, I loved it. I realized how underrated the clouds are because I couldn’t stop wondering how nice it would be to touch them and feel them.

We arrive at Country Lake Resort Garuga in Entebbe around lunch hour. I quickly go to my room to drop off my things. The room is big. The bed is bigger; I could have five mini-mes sleeping on the same bed. It has a small, lovely balcony that faces some tall trees and smaller plants. Perfect place for a cup of coffee. Only that I don’t drink coffee and I am scared of being alone in this room and in this balcony precisely. The silence is deafening and the trees seem to be whispering. I don’t know to whom precisely but they are definitely creepy.

I take a walk around the big resort and it is A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. This place is the definition of art and nature. Definitely the best place to bring writers to, and family, and your friends and everyone else. Everyone should see this place. It faces the majestic and grand lake Victoria and words can’t explain how breath-taking it is. Someone should sponsor me a ‘vacation’ to write a book over here. The air just clears your head and that obviously makes it the best place to think, contemplate and come up with the best ideas. I salute the one who chose this location for this workshop. And the owner is definitely a genius!

I go back into my room as soon as the sun set.

Now here’s the thing, I come from a big family so there was never a time I was ever alone by myself. Almost never. At first I was excited about experiencing this but dark has set in and sleep doesn’t seem to be coming anytime soon despite my exhaustion. My heart keeps racing and I am a nervous wreckage right now like a character in a thrilling story. So much suspense with no climax. So I’m just here staring around in all corners, saying lots of duas and breathing deeply while under my blanket. Qur’an is playing from my laptop at the background. The lights are on. I want to sleep now.

Monday, 5th November

Last night I dreamt of some people breaking into my room. My big, lovely, beautiful room. The room that should see no harm yet people still found a way to break into my room out of the many rooms in this big resort. Only it was a dream; a long one nonetheless. I curse anxiety. Wouldn’t let me enjoy the serenity even.

I leave the room around 6:30 a.m. to watch the sunrise. A divine scene. Stunning. Spectacular. *Inserts all the synonyms of breath-taking* It is so beautiful I want to cry. I want to cry because I haven’t felt this kind of warmth in a very long time. Just chirping of the birds, the calm sea, the silence, the peace. And no people!! Oh the peace! I couldn’t get enough of it. But today was the day. The D-day. The start of the workshop and I had to fully prepare for it.

It is not every day you meet legends especially all in one place. Ellah Wakatama Allfrey, founding publisher of Indigo Press from the UK, Demere Kitunga, a publisher, mentor and translator from Tanzania and Catherine Mark, a writer and a poet from the UK as well. Mama Goretti who is the founder of AWT. All these fellows from Africa. All with very valuable experience and knowledge and mistakes to learn from.

We had 18 fellows from Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Sudan and Tanzania. I was among the 3 Kenyans selected and the youngest, or at least among the youngest. This calls for a celebration.

Everyone introduces themselves and what brought them to the workshop. We have publishers in the room, editors, writers, poets and trainers. I am overwhelmed with all the stories from everyone. No one’s had it easy. No one just woke up and had an empire ready. It is really REALLY inspiring and definitely makes me more hopeful for the future and the future of my group in Mombasa ‘Creative Writers League’.

The Magnificent Ellah Wakatama starts off on the editors role and the different kinds of editors in the publishing world. I am amazed. So many things I had NO idea of. For example, I never knew there were so many different editors each with their own specific role. Or that even in poetry, there’s a specific way of arranging the poems such that they be in sync with each other and flow perfectly. The group works are mind-blowing and eye-opening. We go on with the life cycle of the book and many other interesting issues about bringing a book to life. The food is tasty. The interactions are hilarious and lovely!

I am exhausted but what I’ve learnt in this single day is more than I ever taught myself in all these years as a writer.

Tuesday, 6th November

It rained heavily last night and there was thunder too. I was scared of course. Is that even a question?! When one of our sweet facilitators mentioned how she hid under the bed and was praying desperately when she heard the thunder because they don’t have thunder where she lives, I was relieved 😀 I am not the only scared freak.

Today we critically analyzed some short stories and it was so remarkable how you notice a lot more things when you read a story out loud and break it down into chunks and pieces. Even more interesting is how each one of us view the same things in very different ways and how one’s favourite story turns out to be the least liked for someone else.

We learn a lot more on roles, structuring, responsibilities, planning and several other important aspects of editing.

Wednesday, 7th November

I am a regular morning walker now, plus I got a partner to watch the sunrise with. It was the only thing I kept asking everyone about. Have you seen the sunrise?! Oh you don’t know what you’re missing out on! So Rachel, the program organizer joined me. Then she joined me for the evening walks. And all the time walks. It wasn’t just about the walks though. It was more about the deep talks we’d have any time we were together. Rachel and I connected immediately and I really appreciated it because I rarely have such profound bonds with people.

The learning is going on. A lot of questions, discussions and comments. Every creative needs such a space honestly. This is like meeting your long lost family because you automatically belong. You find your people and you understand one another. How beautiful is that?!

Thursday, 8th November

Mama sent me an email via my sister because she was worried, she couldn’t find me on phone the whole day. This is despite me informing her upfront that the wifi is poor and I have little access to the internet. But I get it. I am highly likely going to do the same to my children. I am my mother’s daughter and anxiety runs in the family 😀 But I am also daddy’s girl because he is very patient and understanding. I mean, when I woke him up at 3 a.m. he wasn’t angry despite him loving his sleep a lot. He said ‘You were anxious’ when I wanted to apologize the next morning. I think I’m the perfect combination of my parents. An anxious wreck with a lot of understanding. The most patient, impatient person on earth. 😀 I am a living paradox.

Today, I come to the realization that we, as creatives, have the same similar struggles despite living in different countries and having different backgrounds. One of the fellows mentioned he would charge 1 $ for a full-day training yet only five people came. And I was like, ‘Same here bro. Same here.’ Another lady also mentioned on the same struggle of acquiring trainees for writing. It is such a shame that we have so much talent within us yet still choose to sit on it because the training ‘is expensive.’ It is mostly a matter of priority and we choose to keep our talents out of the priority lists entirely. How sad.

In the afternoon we meet another creatives’ group sponsored by British council at a different resort. It was nice since they had visual artists and graphic designers that we didn’t have in our group. A great network opportunity for everyone. Lots of laughter, pictures and sharing of contacts.

Friday, 9th November

Adrenaline. There’s something about adrenaline that I love. The thrill of it. The shouting-on-a-roller-coaster feeling. The sky-diving feeling. That makes me an adrenaline junkie I guess. But I’m also a stress junkie so you see the irony there 😀 More of a dilemma on what really makes me who I am.

Two of our fellows are ahead of us, Hiwot from Ethipia and Lucky Grace from Rwanda. Its their first time on the bodaboda and you can see it on their faces the tension. I laugh. I laugh because I have been on the bodaboda before, several times and i’m still scared; of it. But I’m seated with Fatma from Sudan who has also never boarded one. I feel like the hero in this case. Behind us is Rachel and Abu Amirah who are used to bodabodas but then they shouldn’t ruin my feeling of being the hero here. So I tap the bodaboda guy and ask him to go past our fellows ahead of us. I keep nagging him to go faster. Fatma laughs, “Do you want to kill us?!” just as we go past them and I am shouting to them ‘Byeeee.’

“This is the moment you shout ‘wohoooo'”

She just laughs. We are in the interior side of Entebbe with so many trees around us and barely anyone passing by.

“Seriously…” I tell her.

“You start,” she says.

I have never been an influence in my life. At least not on the silly stuff. I just do it myself.

“I do it then you do it,” I tell her and she nods.

So I scream ‘Wohoooo’ as my sound disappears into the bushes, air kissing our faces. She just laughs.

I am disappointed. “You are supposed to be my partner in crime.”

“Okay let’s do it again. On the count of three. I…2…3…wohooooo”

We both shout but I can only hear her voice under her breath. I am probably the bad influence here because Fatma is extremely quiet and introverted like Hiwot. They both smile so sweetly, very lovely souls and it is very evident with how they carry out themselves.

I always thought I was an introvert until I met them. The other night we sat by the sunset deck watching the stars and I was talking a lot until I realized how quiet the two of them were. Each was just staring into the horizon, each in their own world. I was the noise maker and I’ve never really been a noise maker with anyone except people i’m really comfortable with. Man, I need a different identity. I am not introvert.

Anyway so Fatma asks me we do the titanic pose as the bodaboda speeds on and we stretch our arms open. She is learning 😀

We are heading to Kampala and the journey is so long. Rachel, who is Ugandan, volunteered to be our tour guide and took us for shopping. Kampala pretty much looks like Nairobi. From the crowds to the chaos to the jam. The JAM! Took us two hours to get back to Entebbe. The Jam was so bad the driver would frequently put off the engine as we wait.

This was our last day of the training. The week went so fast or maybe it was just too wonderful it should have lasted a month?! It was sad parting ways with fierce individuals, lovely souls and very hardworking people. The Ugandans checked out the same day, leaving the international visitors who are to check out the next day.

Saturday, 10th November

We (the Kenyans) are leaving this morning together with the Tanzanians. Hiwot, Rachel and Lucky Grace came to say goodbye and Fatma was overtaken by her sleep so we didn’t get to say our farewell.

I wish I could stay at this place longer. The solace you feel here is tremendous. Psychiatrists and psychologists should prescribe a visit to this place as part of the therapy sessions. Like ‘Mandatory vacation at the Country Lake resort Garuga-Uganda. Failure to do so may lead to increment of number of days at the resort.’ Plus it will be lovely if they sponsor the vacations. Can we get an ‘ameen?’ 😀

I have learnt a lot from our great facilitators and honestly from all the fellows. I was quite moved by everyone’s passion to make a difference and especially for the facilitators who come from far just to give back to the society. Mama Goretti and her AWT team did everything so perfectly, no one could complain. I mean, this is the most organized and timely event/workshop I’ve ever attended, special thanks to Rachel for ensuring the anxious me has nothing to worry about 😀

Our trip to the airport is rather quiet. I remember when we were first coming to Entebbe and the three of us (Kenyans) had EVERYTHING to talk about. We were so excited and thrilled, we talked the whole way. KK (Kingwa) comments on how silent we are in contrast with how we came. We all laugh. We are already feeling nostalgic of the place and all the people we met. Most importantly, there’s a lot of restructuring, planning and changes to be made in our writing careers. A lot to think about.

This will be quite a tiring journey since we have to stop by Nairobi first before going to Mombasa but I can’t wait to be home. I missed my nephews A LOT and everyone else of course. Plus my mum is waiting for all the details of the entire trip. She loves details. I love details. Did I say I am my mother’s daughter?

Education is a very vital tool that is used in contemporary world to succeed. It is the attainment of knowledge typically in educational institutions.

One of the biggest and most recent educational avenues in our contemporary world is educational travel. From studying abroad, annual field trips, huge senior trips, week-long marching band getaways. . . let’s face it, there are many ways for students who want to learn outside of the educational institutions.

Educational travel is the successful combination of tours, site visits, and hands-on learning opportunities that meet clear and concise learning objectives, however travel in general is an educational experience in itself as it brings people into a new perspective.

When you add in the intentional educational part of traveling, you get an abundantly useful and memorable experience you will never, and can never, replace with any other lesson.

There a few opportunities for educational travel in Africa, for example:

Art Noise is introducing a residency travel program to recruit independent creatives of Africa or Black descent and those of non-African descent as well who have interest in African arts and culture to engage in a three month travel program in over 3 different African countries for 2018.

The Program is designed for independent visual creatives, designers, and cultural studies students across the world and aims at benefiting students by providing them with valuable educational and work experience in contemporary and ancient African arts and culture and by assisting them in accomplishing their goals. There are opportunities to work with various creative sectors and demographics of people in our selected countries.

Allowance, travel, health, accommodation, safety and insurance will be available all to students selected for the program and this program is open to individuals in any level of education (regardless of their admission status) between the ages of 18 – 35 years and provides the opportunity to work within Africa and to gain experience in various areas.

For more information: Artnoise Travel residency http://artnoiseng.com/art-noise-residency-travel-program/

Here are some more opportunities for you:

Africa Bicycle Tours http://www.ibike.org/ibike/africa.htm

Ontdek Kenya educational travel  http://www.ontdekkenya.com/

EduTours Africa https://www.edutoursafrica.com/


So now, what are the benefits from educational travel? Well, there’s probably too many to list, but here’s a start:

*Experience new cultures and Increase intercultural knowledge

*Gain independence and leadership skills.

*Get a new/better perspective on history.

*Experience a hands-on learning opportunity.

*Gain crucial language experience.

So select an educational travel avenue and you won’t regret it!