An Encounter With Blackness in Amsterdam

The Dam square, a major tourist trap in Amsterdam, is one of its busiest locations, often teeming with visitors flowing from the streets of Kalverstraat, Damstraat and Nieuwendijk in the heart of the Amsterdam canal zone.

Dam Square is within walking distance of the Red-Light district and the Amsterdam Central Station. On the east side of the tram tracks is the Amsterdam national monument, a prominent obelisk erected in 1956 in memory of the World War II soldiers, that I hardly noticed when I arrived in Amsterdam in September 2019 from Nairobi, Kenya.

Modern African Guy Series: Eliud Kipchoge. The Running King

It is 9am on a cool Thursday morning at Eldoret Sports Club.  Sheets of puffy white clouds, hide the morning sun as a caravan in honour of the World Record marathon holder, Eliud Kipchoge prepares to hit the road. A convoy of vehicles are destined for Eldoret town centre for a grand homecoming of the running king.

It has been 11 days since Eliud Kipchoge broke the World marathon record in Berlin, Germany. Eliud is lean, sinewy and nondescript in casual clothes. He wears a dark polo shirt, running shoes and a branded cap.  His words are measured. His tone of voice low,  demands the rapt attention of a congregant in the presence of a respected padre. Sports journalists have warned of Eliud’s crisp responses and his zen like presence that deflates the exuberance of an eager interviewer seeking easy sound bites.

Caged Man In A Human Zoo

About 5 year ago, I encountered  a turtle by the banks of the river Yala in Gem district whilst doing farm work. We were five men busy digging, preparing a patch of land by the river to plant arrow roots, when one of the men nearly struck a solid shell that moved. He had discovered a turtle. In all my years since childhood, I had never seen a turtle in these waters and I was pleasantly surprised. The turtle, true to its nature, retreated into its shell as we gathered around to contemplate the best course of action. Two of the men debated on whether it was edible. Perhaps it could be sold for a tidy sum to a group of Chinese road construction workers reputed to pay premier rates for exotic dishes. Another suggested instant death launching into overdrive with his bad omen theories.

Nairobi, walking down memory lane

Every Nairobian has a part of the city instrumental in crafting their identity. A place where they truly came to appreciate the essence of Nairobi and found belonging. For most Nairobians, it is the neighbourhood they grew up in but I found my inspiration elsewhere.

My favourite part of the city is ensconced in the area around the University of Nairobi’s Main campus. From Uhuru Highway onto the University Way, down Muindi Mbingu Street, connecting the grid to Kenyatta Avenue and all the way around to the Arboretum Forest and back. It is packed with endless memories and makes a fascinating treasure trove for history lovers. I was in the University for a four year pursuing a Bachelor degree in Anthropology and spent a good deal of time crisscrossing this part of the city. My daily commute cut across Nairobi University main grounds, past the fountain ‘of Knowledge’ on the same path that Senator Barack Obama walked on his way to address students about a hopeful future at Taifa Hall in 2006 when it seemed ludicrous that he would be elected as the first black President of the US.