I have a few minutes to myself this evening, with the boys off to see a movie, and thought I would try to capture in words a curious thing I am discovering here in Kenya. It is this idea that things look one way at first, but upon inspection and experience, are in fact a totally different way. Mom used to tell us not to judge a book by its cover.
The shacks used by artisans to produce their wares, whether furniture or textiles or pottery or jewelry or Maasai art, are these visibly poorly constructed units, made from scrap lumber and tin corrugated roofing materials. They really look like “shacks”, a word Hakim uses actually. But we walk inside these “shacks”, and instead you find strong walls housing the most beautiful and finely crafted handiwork I have ever seen. The wood furniture is really of the best quality, the fabrics are tightly woven with handcrafted art embedded, the pottery is thrown and crafted upon a wheel. Suddenly, things look very expert and beautiful and of high quality.
The decor of places initially appears a bit dusty or unkept, like the streets having no real sidewalks. But the more you delve into the city, the more you see the real beauty. It isn’t something I make up. It is really spectacular.
Guled mentioned the air quality and how deceptive it is upon first look because of the Rift Valley desert sands in the distance. There is no smog. The air is so clean and fresh and unencumbered by mechanised waste.
The people see us and look almost cautious but one quick smile from us, and that cautious look turns to a warm and inviting smile. Makes me wonder how many times in my own space half way across the globe I have mistaken a cautious look for something sinister rather than a smile awaiting.
All is well in Kenya. I hope my grammar and spelling are correct because I am not going to run spell check this time.