Nairobi Notes part I – Labour Day at Uhuru Park

OK, I have been back from Kenya since Monday but I have been catching up with a number of things and haven’t had time to post anything here all week. I hope I will have a bit more time now, so normal posting will resume.

For the next few weeks I will alternate normal commentary and posts, with some relevant and interesting things from the few days I was in Kenya. It was my first time there, and it was a great experience. Work-related activities, especially our main event, the presentation of FRIDE’s report on «Assessing Democracy Assistance» went well – here you can see some pictures of the day. And we managed to do some more interesting stuff like visiting the iHub, attending a seminar on Africa and the ICC, etc.

Throughout the week, I spent quite a bit of time walking around in Nairobi, a city which greatly surprised me. All throughout I had the feeling it was remarkably safe and friendly, at least in comparison to the horror stories people had told me about it… The worst thing – by far – was the traffic, but besides this I greatly enjoyed walking around the centre of town to different places.

And then – last Sunday – before I flew back to Europe I took the opportunity to visit that landmark of Nairobi that it Uhuru Park. Furthermore, it was Labour Day, so I went down to see the  celebrations. There were not many people there (somebody told me more people attended the Ocampo 6 prayers some weeks earlier), and the mood was not either festive, nor angry. The complaints against high fuel and food prices had partly been met when the government announced a tax break for kerosene and diesel, so people chose to stay home as there was not much more to get. Also, the announcement of 12% minimum wage increase is not much when compared to the 25% food inflation since January, so there was nothing to celebrate either. And, to signal how low-profile the celebrations were, neither President Kibaki, nor PM Odinga attended the meeting.

In any case, even without the political charge, it was a lovely day, and many people just went down the park to enjoy the day with their families – so people selling face-paints, balloons, photographs and fun-rides (in ferry-whhels, cars or even a camel) did have something to celebrate.

And I took the opportunity to see some of the colourful floats workers had put together for the occasion. Here’s a small slideshow (I’m not a good photographer but I hope with these images – and the small descriptions – at least you can get an idea of the celebrations).

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