The Kenyan way of life

Gunjan Goswami

The Kenyan way of life is something that one has to experience to understand the true meaning of ‘peaceful living’. I was fortunate enough to have a truly rural Kenyan experience. 

The journey to Busia was a long long drive, it took us over 10 hrs to reach Busia from Nairobi. Busia borders Bunayala, which is on the coast of Lake Victoria. Before leaving Nairobi I was told that Busia is the district headquarters (or maybe I had misheard), and therefore I had imagined a big, well developed and well connected town. Busia was none of those, the road to Busia was terrible, a 45 minute drive, took us over 2 hrs on the road going to Busia. Busia town was a junction of four roads with a small supermarket on one corner and lots of road side vendors.

The town was never very crowded (by India standards) and was isolated by 7 in the evening. From the brief description above one might think of Busia as a very small and dull town and maybe that is true too but I had an amazing 4 days in this dull, small town. I was staying in a hotel on the highway and training all day on the first day. The other three days I travelled to the interiors of Busia to visit the villages where the survey was taking place. The view and people of the villages made up for the bad bad roads. Busia is simply beautiful- with miles and miles of sugarcane farms, isolated villages, big schools, small town centers, no traffic and lots of boda bodas (the local transport which is a bicycle with a big back seat). Most households in the villages were very poor, with no electricity and direct water connections. The children in all villages were either scared or fascinated to see me; they had never seen a person like me with long black hair and light skin. No doubt the attention I got in the villages was overwhelming.

 During my three days of field visits I also went to schools Bunayala and port Victoria. One would again imagine the port to be jostling with activity, but port Victoria was just the opposite, with clean water, few fishing boats and Uganda on the other side of the lake. I was lucky to visit on the day of the port market where one could get just about anything, from fresh fish to high heels all on the roadside.

I think what really made Busia a very pleasant stay was the lifestyle of the people there. No one was ever in a hurry! And that is a way of life there (in fact all over in Kenya). Work happens at its own pace, no rash driving, honking, breaking queues, rushing through meals. It was good to be away from the hustle and bustle of Delhi and enjoy the quite of Busia. I wish I could get back a  little of the ‘Busia life’ to Delhi……