Monday, December 6, 2010

A Conversation with a Kenyan "Freelance Guide" About the Weather

I am walking into town. A black man falls into step beside me.

Karibu! he says. Welcome to Kenya. Where are you from?

The U.S., I say.

Oh, he says. You do not look like an American. I thought Australia. Where in the U.S.?


Ohio, he says. A very important state. You voted for Obama.

Yes, I say. We did.

Do you like him?

Yes, I still do. But change has been slow.

Yes, yes, he says. Change is slow.

What about you? Do you like Kibaki? I ask, referring to the Kenyan president who also ran as an agent of change.

Mmmm, he says. Change is slow.

We walk in silence for a while. After a while he asks brightly, What is the weather like in Ohio?

Cold. I hear it's snowing.

Snow! he exclaims. It is always warm here. Do you know what I saw? In the airport a man was crying because he had to go home. He said he was sad to leave our climate. Can you believe that? A man! Crying!

Yes, I say, I can believe that.

This snow, he asks. I don't understand. Once, I went up Mt. Kenya. My hands, they went like this. He shows me his hands, like a claw. Is it always like that?

Yes, I say. It is.

What do you do then?

We stay inside. In our houses.

Inside! he says. That is bad.

Now you understand why that man was crying, I say.

Yes, yes, he says. It is because he has no freedom.

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