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How does this person get to be a travel writer?

Via Kenyanentrepreneur, what I wish was atypical but it is not…just outright biased writing when it comes to reporting on Africa ati Nairobi does not have one decent hotel???? Butler? Overflowing, impoverished population? Thank God for the well-meaning white folk who are in a tough struggle to save the giraffes.

Someone please get me a gin and tonic :-)

14 comments to How does this person get to be a travel writer?

  • Victoria please, does she know how blonde that sounds. Maybe i shoulndt blame her i blame her hosts who should have schooled her on nairobi. OH the struggle of livingin this city:roll:

  • Victoria please, does she know how blonde that sounds. Maybe i shouldn’t blame her i blame her hosts who should have schooled her on nairobi. OH the struggle of living in this city:roll:

  • I need something stronger.Good gracias

  • How some people get jobs, I dont know; I truly dont!

  • JKE

    Maybe we should forward her a copy of Binyavanga’s “How to write about Africa” booklet. With it being on sale for just 200 Kshs, it’s even cheaper than the entry to the Giraffe centre.

  • Njeri

    You guys do a great job of blogging, i just wondered if any of you would be interested in blogging about the Kenyan elections for this NGO site! If anyone is interested please email me at jerri_84@hotmail.com
    check out the site anyway:

  • kui

    ok, that dig about the giraffes was priceless … totally made my day.

  • Amused

    Anyone who has been to New York will laugh at her perspective!!! Try going to New York in the summer… trash on the streets… warm weather.. oh how I miss that wonderful aroma!! Or even better, last month was hell, when the subway flooded, could not get anywhere. You know we should write in to Vanity Fair. Also this is what our Embassy, and cultural attaches should be doing, responding to stupid airheads like this. Vanity Fair can and should pay for better writers than this airhead.

  • Thanks for sharing this

  • Kabura

    I don’t actually see what the problem with this article is. What is wrong with stating one’s preference? Her decription of Nairobi as an urban jungle could fit a number of places – Rio, Johannesburg, the wrong side of town in London, Paris, New York etc. However, what sets us apart from these other cities is that there are not many places in Nairobi for the discerning traveller to stay. Unfortunately, the ‘top’ Nairobi hotels cater for the business/conference traveller, transiting tourist….. They are all mini replicas of each other from the layout, dining concepts etc. A couple of miles out of the city, a few forward thinking people have realised that they could capitalise on this and they have created some lush ‘bush homes’, boutique hotels etc. that allow yo to take in Nairobi at your own pace. Why does her travel agenda have to tick your boxes? As far as I’m concerned, she’s the one on holiday, so surely she gets to call the shots, no?

    We could learn a lot from this article……
    And its in Vanity Fair for gods sake – doesn’t that tell you something about the readership.

    P.S. I am Kenyan

    Kabure, find me a travel article by an American writer that includes descriptions of the “wrong side” of New York? And it’s one thing to say that the hotels in Nairobi are formulaic and cater to business travelers and other to say that they are NO decent hotels in Nairobi (Norfolk? Serena? Palacina?). Her travel agenda doesn’t have to fit anyone’s boxes, but it should at minimum not misinform the readers. Finally, are you suggesting that because it’s Vanity Fair they get a free pass on biased pieces about Africa…me thinks not!

  • Amused

    Kabura, for me the fact that she is from NY and Vanity Fair is a riot!!! Nairobi is far from being an urban jungle. BTW, here is an intresting link Rat is Manhattan ( http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=kfc+rats&search=Search). It is not unusual, and this is in a very tony, very expensive neighbourhood!!!! Bedsitter apts. go for upwards of 700,000 USD. I bet an article about the Grenwich Village does not call it “crime-ridden”, “traffic-jammed”. It is just a riot coming from a New Yorker!!! Kabura, I think either you are ignoring, or are not aware of the subtext of the article…. “a white oasis in a haven of city full of overbreading, dangerous incompetent blacks”. I wish I could buy a ticket, have you fly into LaGuardia, take a cab , travel through Queens, and stay in a “hotel” in the Village… you would get where I am coming from. It was an eye opener for me.

  • Tina


    by Christine Gatwiri

    This week I have had the pleasure of touring Nyanza which is home to Kenya’s most eccentric tribe,the Luo. Luos are famous for their renowned footballers, animated politicians, male models and body builders as well as for their Benga maestros such as Tony Nyadundo,Jack Nyadundo,Ken Wuod Alego,Odongo Mayaka,Onyango ja Suba and Musa Juma,Reggy Kabasellah,Omondi Tony,Dola Kabarry,I would like to let you in on my encounters while the wonderful memories are still vivid in my mind.

    Where else would I begin other than on the magnificent Lake Victoria? Her imposing presence stretches out as far as the eye can see. At my favorite time of day, sunset, I often found myself watching with awe as the majestic sun set on the backdrop of the silvery waters of Lake Victoria. The ripples across the lake caused by young boys whose evening playtime consisted in casting their fishing rods into the water to catch fish and the reflection of the sun’s orange rays across the water was a sight for sour eyes. In those moments, time seemed to stop for me as I let the stunning scenery sink in, I would only begrudgingly leave after the rays of the setting sun surrendered to the fingers of night. The topology in Luo Nyanza is very picturesque and I especially enjoyed looking at the hills and how huge they appeared.

    One of the highlights of my tour was a ferry ride I took from Luanda K’Otieno to Mbita enroute to Rusinga Island where I was accompanying my colleague to the mausoleum of one of Kenya’s distinguished hero whose untimely demise was politically motivated, Thomas Joseph Mboya. We arrived at Luanda K’Otieno shortly after 3pm walking to the pier, I saw many fishing boats and young men whom I presumed were fishermen. Quite a few of them were in the nude taking a bath at the shores. Mischievously I stole glances at their taunt behinds. The men were tall and their complexion as dark as chocolate. Their bodies were very lean and muscular probably due to lifting nets with heavy fish on a nightly basis. As you can tell from my fascination, I had never seen anything like this.

    Our enquiries did not yield much information, other than that we had just missed the ferry. Disappointed, we decided to at least sample the fish at one of the local restaurants. Our hostess whose name was called Akinyi but who preferred to be called Asha was very gracious and took the time to give us travel advice about our destination and the ferry’s schedule. The next trip was due at 6pm meanwhile we continued to feast on the fish and chat with Asha about the local MP and what his chances were of being reelected.

    Finally the ferry arrived, once it set off I stood next to the rails so that I could have a clear view of the lake and the sun as it set behind the hilly islands. A young man standing next to me probably noticing my enthrallment introduced himself as Pastor Eric. He had been born and brought up in Rusinga Island. He went on to speak passionately about the sons and daughters of Rusinga who were great intellectuals and philosophers. According to him they were renowned the world over. He was especially enthusiastic about Thomas Mboya who to the locals was nothing less than a legend. The ferry ride was about an hour long ,during which time Eric shared with me his adventures as a fisherman seven years ago. His father had taught him how to fish and when he passed on Eric became a fisherman. However one night the lake became turbulent and he was caught up in a terrible storm, his boat almost capsized and Eric in his anguish desperately cried out to God for help. After a few such incidents including that of finding a corpse of a fisherman who had been missing floating during one fishing expedition Eric ended his career in fishing and in his words became ‘a fisher of men’.

    By the time we got the mausoleum it was dark limiting our tour since there was no electricity. Our guide was the late Tom Mboya’s step brother Nick who it appears was a very small child at the time of his brother’s death, spoke of Thomas Mboya with awe as though he had known him all his life. Their father had several wives, polygamy at the time was the norm and still appears to be an accepted cultural practice among the Luos.As the tour came to a close I sensed that the theme of kinship and close family ties even among siblings from different mothers and other relatives was close to the hearts of the Luo people.

    Yet another of the major highlights was my visits to the clubs where live bands played the local music Ohangla.Even though I could barely understand a word of what the live band sang about I enjoyed myself immensely. I usually preferred to sit at the back so as to have a better view and also because the music was quite loud since it was a live performance. I noticed that these clubs had no age segregation as young men and women as well as a few middle aged men frequented these clubs. Even the slightly older appeared to be young at heart as they danced with reckless abandon to the tantalizing beats of the drums and a traditional string instrument Orutu.

    At first I was a little self conscious and held back but gradually the music’s seductive allure slowly enticed me to the dance floor. All around me were men and women gyrating their waists and hips .One young man near a table just next to the stage was swaying from side to side as though he was in a trance, he tightly clutched a bottle of Tusker and slowly moved it to his lips as though to simulate a kiss and had his other hand across his chest as though to imply that the lyrics of the song being sang were close to his heart. The soloist’s Onyango ja Suba baritone rang out into a slow halt as the drum beats rose to a crescendo. Just when I thought that I couldn’t handle anymore elation, the soloist suddenly upped his tempo and sang a sonnet at a quicker pace throwing the crowd into a frenzy. The song was coming into a second climax.

    Even though I had no understanding of the meanings in the songs they seemed to center on the theme of sensuality. The aura was erotically charged as couples held each other close. The songs seemed to elicit deep passion as well as the desire for more etched on the faces all around me. For a moment there, the music appeared to transport the revelers to another realm, one filled with utter ecstastic bliss! My experience at these clubs has led me to believe that the Luo people are very romantic. Indeed even in normal day to day interactions the language seems especially tender and demure even when to those who do not comprehend the language. It is filled with etiquette and endearing terms such as maama and baaba, perhaps one would have to listen to the intonation to actually appreciate this. During my stay I also visited the mausoleum of one of the nation’s founding fathers, the late Oginga Odinga but that is a story for another day. In my opinion, the Luo people are fun loving, out going and hospitable and Luo Nyanza is a delightful travel destination which comes highly recommended to the discerning thrill seeker and curious voyager.

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