Postcards from Kenya (2011) - Chapter 2 / by Hilary Hann


The morning sun burns through the glass windows as we sit patiently outside Tuskys Supermarket on Kenyatta Avenue, Nakuru.

Patience is the key as we wait for our chef Fanwel to purchase some grocery items for our journey to our self catering bandas in The Aberdares and Meru. A steady hum of conversation surrounds us as the busy inhabitants of Nakuru jostle and bustle about their business. We are intrigued by the elaborate hairstyles of the women and fascinated by a pair of shiny red shoes which wander past. A car siren sounds but no one rushes to attend. Young girls in their school uniforms wander past and one young man crosses the road dressed in school blazer, jumper and crisply ironed grey pants. We wonder how he manages in the heat as the sun rises further.

A man walks past with a large panel of fibre board balanced on his head, another juggles many coloured buckets whilst a young woman walks using rubber thongs on her hands as her legs appear unusable.

The open door to the supermarket lockers carries on a brisker trade than the boy selling maps. The map he tries to sell us today is the same one he tried to sell my sister two days ago. In contrast, many lockers are filled with small bags of shopping and shoppers come and go keeping the attendant busy.

The yellow jackets of the parking attendants are all around but their users seem unable to cope with the traffic and wayward parking habits of the busy locals.

Occasionally, we battle with a man wearing eleven hats, carrying armloads of ties who tries to persuade us that we need yet another souvenir.

A young girl leans against a doorway, her braided hair frames a happy face and we smile gently at each other.

A doorman in a smart red hat and jacket sits by the doors of the Avenue Suites and Hotel but no one comes or goes.

A surly young man with no hope in his eyes yells at us “NO PICTURES, NO TAKE MY PICTURE” and I wonder what it would take to turn around lives like that.

Yes, Nakuru is a busy town but we are ready to move on, but African time means African patience and I slowly let the sounds, smells and sights of this thriving place consume me.

We wait for Fanwel until a man appears at our door carrying groceries. Now we know why Fanwel’s taking so long, Fanwel isn’t coming.