I arrived in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya very early in the morning, and immediately got immediately after I purchased the return ticket to Kampala, rushed to Norwich Union house to send an alarming text to my Stephen an alarming text message telling him to send me money in Nairobi. Norwich house becomes my office and communication center every time I travel to this city, it’s a building of almost ten floors and all of them are occupied by Internet cafés just like many buildings in Nairobi. I have used this building from 2003 when I fast visited this enormous city and there’s one Internet café called Nairobinet, where all the attendants have known me since 2003. They are very warm and friendly. In trying to avoid hotels, sometimes I sleep on their soft sofas if am re-taking the Journey on the same day.
Nairobi hadn't changed much since my last visit in 2007.The touts still wandered up and down all streets of Nairobi mostly on Kimathi Avenue looking for customers. The beggars decreased and still spoke perfectly enunciated English. Postcards with pictures of animals shagging were still the most popular with visitors. And greasy chip shops still offered lunchtime specials of sausages, chips and soft drink at 130 Kshs on papers and polythene bags, eating it while standing in the restaurants.
What pleases me about Nairobi is that, the locals, no matter how poor they are, still wore suits and this was the same on this cool breezing day. Nairobi has a dreadful reputation-visitors call it Nairobbery, and the areas I was walking is horrible, muddy like Kampala, noisy mess, I think if you have visited this city, you know where River road is. I walked to Kenyatta Avenue as I wait Norwich to open, where trees are planted and feels like they water them, are quite lovely and welcoming. Even the street walkers, in this area of the city are smart and speaking English.
Unlike in Kampala where shops open at almost 9am,in Nairobi, by 6:30,it feels like its already 9am,most eating points and internet cafes are open, so I walked in Norwich Union building. I paid 10 Kshs for ten minutes and started sending SMS to Douglas, Stephen’s brother, since the codes of Stephen's phone could not be found on this website www.eacraze.com.
Minutes after I arrived to the Norwich Union house, I wanted to have pee, I requested a key for the toilets from the Internet cafe owners, when I opened the door, my heart sunk because there was people who used the toilets through Sunday and couldn’t flash them, so you know what was there, It was full of shit and nor running water. I didn't use them instead I rushed to the famous KO toilets in Nairobi. I paid 5Kshs to have it but then I had to wait for about five people. This was a tempting moment, and as you know, patience almost over-rode me, I wanted to shout but then one guy came out of the toilet. He saved my dignity; otherwise I was shaking already and couldn’t stand any more.
Douglas was with Stephen, he called me immediately after receiving my online text on his phone. I told him how urgently I needed the money, and at first I told him to put the money in my account with Standard Chattered Bank later I learnt I cannot withdraw the money from Kenya, My account had less money and the one Stephen deposited was to be updated on it after mid-night. I started shaking and mindless. I lost my words but thanks to moneygramme.
I again returned to Internet cafes to become a burden to Stephen, apparently my frustration was growing. It was already 8:30 am and couldn't know how I will do it,
I ordered Stephen to deposit money in Moneygrame that the bank won’t pay me here. He started blaming me for not being prepared be I took on the journey, I felt let down by him, later he told me ,he is sending me money by moneygramme. This relieved me shortly but depression came again since I knew Stephen was using the banks in Uganda which are undependable. Banks in Uganda are very slow, and attendants in them carry that bossy-bossy way of doing business. To them, customers matter less otherwise they wouldn’t be doing the way they do!
I went rushed a calling center to call the Australian Embassy, I called and the calls was not going through. The Nairobi code is like that of London, so the phone operator told me I was not calling Kenya, that I was calling London, I felt so sad and angry but rushed very quickly to 4th floor of Norwich house where the call went through, picked by a white person I knew from his accent and I kindly requested him to connect with me to Iren Otuto. She is the one who dealt with my appointment letter.
I told Irene that I am in Nairobi but had problems on the way that if she could extend my appointment to 10Am. Earlier, my appointment 9Am and its now 9:20 Am, so she agreed and told me not to come after 10:30am,meanwhile Stephen called to give me the details of money. I rushed to moneygramme point. I picked the money, it took me only five minutes to get and rushed to a cab driver who wanted to charge me 500 Kshs but later settled for 350 Kshs, he was in his 50s.I didn't ask him his names, I felt being cheated by him. On the way to the Australian High Commissioner, he told how he hated Asians with all his heart.
The journey was so short. I wondered why he took all my money. Anyway, I was on the High Commission now and felt that my anxiety had gone; there was no strong security to go through. The first security guard asked me if I had an appointment and I answered yes, he told me to stand in front of a strong security darkly screen and wait.
Minutes later, a security guard who told he is Edward Onyancha opened up and took my details ad sent me to reception where I only presented my passport. The smiling Kenyan lady gave me number note with Number 62, but before that, Edward had to check on the list of people to see if my names where there as someone that had appointment, and he couldn't see the names until when I spotted it on the number. Then he provided a pass and there am, in the immigrations center.
I was the only Ugandan, others where from Sudan (Dinka), from Kenya and Somalia. I told Edward that I would like to talk with you when am through. I pretended very strongly as someone inviting him to Uganda.
I waited for about five people inside the consular office, then my turn came. No questions Only one that are you paying for the applications or you already paid, I replied am paying madam. She was a strong Kenyan lady. She called me by number 62 and I couldn’t hear until when I heard her calling number 63, thats when my brained noticed that this lady must have called me first, so I quickly rushed to the counter and she was like "but I called and you couldn't respond, then I answered, Madam, I didn't hear you but here am now, and for this, the Australian official simply smiled at me while looking on the huge papers am presenting. Am application was big that the receiving Kenyan lady took time to comment on it.
There was two Kenyans working on this department and it looked like they had the overall authority and also I noticed that the guy looked so kind for Africans and really wished them if they could make it to Australia.,”Oh my God, this man has huge papers" She shouted and the Australian Immigration official simply smiled weakly without saying a word.
This Lady sent my papers to the Kenyan guy who later called me to pay. Again no questions accept one, how will you want your passport to be returned? I replied that I will pick it. So are you paying in dollars or Kenya shillings? Am paying in Kenya shillings. OK. Get me your money, I coughed the 6500 Kshs down and he fills the information’s in the computer.
He later gave me a receipt and retained all the photocopies of my documents and returned the originals to me. According to Edward, it felt like the Kenyans do all the visa processing, the only work of the Australian lady Official was to stamp them on. They gave my file number T…./1…/….4
I left the consular section, very down to earth, knowing that I submitted my applications. I then walked out of the High Commission and headed to town. That’s what was at the High Commission, that’s it for today. Wait my next edition of my journey.
As the Ugandan Journalist Shaka Ssali says “Get better not bitter in this 2010”.