Monday, May 24, 2010

Our first day in Kisumu, What did we do?

KK and I finished bathing individually and everything was back to normal after that cold shower on that Friday afternoon. I was still questioning myself what kind of business KK will be doing in Nairobi and if he will meet me back in Kisumu. We have not discussed this in details. It was now time to look for food. KK chose to go and take a fish on the shores of Lake Victoria. We slowly walked that downtown street that led us there. This time, I picked up my camera with hope that it will work. If it fails, we would simply turn to any studio and seek help.

I spot one Vision studio on the same side walk as we were walking on. We walked in. It's so disturbing when you approach someone with hope that she/he is an expert on something, but later end up being a victim of total incompetence. This was exactly the reception--together with her senior.

After failing to receive any help, we decided to simply walk in any supermarket. Nakkumatt was closer to us, so that's the one we choose. We bought battery cells at 145 Ksh (4060 UGX). I was frustrated and feeling so lost because of the camera's failure to switch on. I inserted the cells which failed to activate the Camera. I decided to forget everything after calling the owner three times and he, too couldn't figure out what was the problem. I and KK were now convinced that the camera was in bad mechanical conditions since its owner lends to almost all his friends with no worry that anyone can use it badly, hence damages. But I was at fault, too, by not taking at least one picture in the presence of the owner.

It was grey as if it was about to rain when we finally landed to the shores of the lake. It looked beautiful. The air was fresh. However, now that the population had doubled since 2003, we were warmly welcomed with every waitress trying to win us to buy their fish.

I usually relax whenever many people try to gain my attention, because when you respond too quickly, you can end up with a raw deal. That's what we did. While they aggressively tried to sell fish, we turned the offer down until when we were sure of the place. KK spotted a much cleaner place and that's what we choose. Although the waitress who welcomed us was relatively unattractive, she was warm and interestingly friendly and I now know that this was the magic why she was having many more customers, than her prettier counterparts.

We paid for our bigger fish escorted by 0.5 Kgs of Ugali (Swahili word meaning posho made from maize flour) and sukumawichi (kind of soup made from green vegetables).This cost us 550 Ksh (15400 Ugx). We then ordered a single 0.5 littre of fanta orange at 40 Kshs (1120 UGX). We waited for around 30 minutes.

A lady served us with a smile. She brought warm water to clean our hands. KK liked the fish and he whispered to me that "you wouldn't find any of this in Uganda (Entebbe) at the same price. I wish if I could always travel to Kisumu to enjoy this fish" I nodded my head in disbelief. I must say it was palatable and tasty. Since our camera failed to function, KK took pictures using his phone.

Kenya is now promoting a huge campaign for the Katiba (Swahili word for Constitution). The "Yes" camp is led by the Government and some religious fanatics are for "NO" camp. As we enjoyed our fish, the landing site was jammed with more matatus and buses carrying campaigners. These added some warmth on the landing site. It was just lovely to watch Kenyans doing their thing. We walked around the shores of Lake Victoria. It started raining on and off, so we stayed in the place where fish was being sold, but the rain ended so quickly.

We decided to walk back to the hotel. As we climbed some ups. I choose to try the camera one more last time. As I pulled it out in its bag, KK shouted to me "Hey let me help you this time" I answered him that wait. I exchanged the cells and re-organised them. When I switched on, the Camera lighted up. I jumped and jumped like a dog that have spent a week not seeing its master. I smiled and laughed with that African big laughs that you know well. KK felt happy for me and we immediately went on a photo taking spree. We even went back to the landing site to take pics of Kenyan campaigners. We found that most of them left, but now my life was at its fullness. Pictures mean a lot to me. I was happy taking more and more pics.

As we waved while walking to the hotel, we met several aging men. They were discussing issues. They noticed us taking pics and believed that we were visitors, so one brave guy approached to inquire who we were; I told him that we are from Uganda. This guy immediately asked "are you Bantu speaking people", he meant to ask if were Baganda because he rephrased his question. When we answered yes, he jumped around as if he was looking for a gun somewhere to hit his enemies. "You are migingo island" or "you want to take our land" the guy continued to be aggressive towards us, apparently they were discussing this, just before they saw us. Uganda and Kenya created world headlines about this disputed piece of rock in Lake Victoria and from media houses. Kenyan politicians were even calling for war with Uganda.

Photo of Migingo

Youth in Kenya even derailed the route that was bringing in Ugandan goods and the tensions were rising each minute. Several diplomatic meetings took place between Kampala and Nairobi, trips of dignitaries were sent to that rocky island which resulted into a commission from both countries to resurvey the boundaries and have a new look on the map. Recently media houses reported that Uganda has given up on it and that now it belongs to Kenya but we have no official communications from the Uganda Government over that issue. This rocky Island is extremely good for catching fish.

According to the Independent newspaper (UK), "Migingo's wealth lies in its proximity to some of the richest remaining deep-water fishing in Lake Victoria." I think the fish we had was also from there, because it was fatty and nice looking. We cooled down and didn’t want any more discussion about this issue, the migingo guys again asked if were to print pictures and if we will give some to them, we all answered “Yes” and walked on to run for our dear life. I strongly think that these bullies were just looking for a fight for any reason. I was just lucky that they didn't snatch my camera.

We decided to spend our last few hours of the day touring the docks. We followed a rail line and as were about to reach the entrance, we were stopped by two younger men. One of them was called David. They were security guards and told us not to continue walking, but rather go back and use a different route. I spent almost forty minutes convincing David that photos are mine and that am Ugandan who will not sell his pictures to the daily newspapers, after viewing my passport, he agreed to allow me take his picture, he even opened up to say that he lived in Kayunga district (Uganda) for a year, he even played football in a local team and he spoke some broken Luganda. This is out in public and it's not a nuclear reactor or a military base. What's the problem with David? I questioned myself. I didn’t have an answer why he opposed me from taking his picture and I didn’t ask him why it was a turbo .

I and KK walked a few meters back to the suggested route by David. We diverted to the docks side. When we arrived at the docks, we paid 40 Kshs both of us. We walked to the oil ferry and took pictures. KK wanted to do a 1997 Titanic move, he recalled it in that movie, but I warned him to be extra-ordinarily careful since the waters looked deep and if he falls in, I will hardly save his life.

Nothing much was there to be seen after we were stopped from accessing other interesting-looking ships. The security guard said that, "that was a different entity and that if we like to tour it, we must come back tomorrow". We simply left and as we were about to get out, I saw a Kenyan immigrations police and Immigrations department, I wanted to take a picture of it, but KK stopped me. I don’t know why did KK stop me and I didn’t ask him why he wouldn’t like me taking pictures of the immigrations. Was it because of prior experience that he knew the police do not like for people to take pictures of them? The police in Africa are too aggressive. In Western Europe, one can take photos of the police--in fact, many will pose for photographers because they know that income from tourism helps pay their salaries.

We walked out of the docks and headed to the hotel. We arrived at the hotel around 8pm and were too tired to think of having dinner,we simply picked two bottles of 350ml fanta and headed to our room. We were still okay from our fish and Ugali that we ate few hours ago. We rushed to our room 205 and retired. Our first day in Kisumu had finally come to end. It felt good to be in our beds. It was nice resting after a long journey. Please dare not miss my next segment of this trip. Your comments and question are welcome.

1 comment:

Keeranl said...

Nice story one keeps looking forward to the next segement. Reading this segement makes me feel like I was there physically. The way you paint out every picture for the reader, describing every incident in detail.