SAMMY (31)

Dark clouds are packing above the Bishop Muge Subukia Secondary School while the students are working on their chemistry exam. 

The road and the towns are not that different in Kenya in comparison with Uganda: the other drivers are as crazy, the towns look the same, a bit more plastic bags along the road and the occasional pothole that grabs your attention when you’r dozing of. Somewhere after Eldoret I meet Sammy when I stop to eat some peanuts. He’s a biology teacher and wants a ride to his school. When we arrive at the bishop Muge Subukia secondary school, he invites me in.

What strikes me are the two soldiers who are guarding one of the classrooms.

I ask Sammy if he teaches young delinquents. He laughs and shakes his head. “No! These kids are doing their national chemistry exams. Tomorrow it’s biology practical, I still need to prepare the exam, that’s why I’m here”.

Seems like serious business to me. The soldiers have to prevent students and teachers from cheating. The higher the percentage of students that pass the exam, the more students will come to that school next year, which means more money for the school. That’s why it’s interesting for students and teachers to cheat. And that explains the controlling presence of these soldiers. It all seems a bit drastic to me.

Sammy tells me that about 80 % succeeds. Those numbers might apply for biology and chemistry but definitely not for history. My historian heart starts to bleed a bit when I see the map of Europe before WW I in the teachers room.

a ‘special’ history map

Than again, could I draw the whole of Africa in perfect proportions? I’m satisfied about one thing: Belgium triples the size of Holland on this map.

We drink some African tea and discuss the difference between private and public education in Kenya. “Having a school can be big business” Sammy tell me. “Africa has a very young population and every parent wants his child to get a proper education. A lot of parents give the little savings they have to education because they know that it’s their only way out of poverty”. Passing through Uganda and Kenya you see schools everywhere, so I understand a bit what he’s saying.

I leave Muge Subukia secondary school and continue my road to Nairobi. The plan is to avoid Nairobi and to stop before this hellhole (I’m sorry for the name, but that’s just what it is). I’m driving through an unexpected landscape. When I was planning my trip through Africa I never expected to ride through this. It’s a beautiful green scenery, full of pine forests. It almost feels like I’m driving through the black forest.

the black forest in Kenya

180 kilometres before Nairobi, somebody taps on my shoulder, when I’m checking my GPS. It’s a big Kenyan guy, called Lawrence, who’s guiding a motorcycle tour. They’re a group of three. Each of them is riding a KLR 650, just like mine. He proposes to ride along with them to Nairobi. I accept, because it’s nice to ride together especially when the roads are a bit boring.

So that’s how I get stuck in the pouring rain in Nairobi traffic during evening rush hour. This was the one thing I wanted to avoid by all means. On top of that we also loose Lawrence’ group members in this torrential traffic. After a while we find everybody and end up in the warehouse of Lawrence Motorcycle Company ADV.

Lawrence of Kenya
Lawrence waiting for the return of his lost flock 
Found one! Maciek is back!

Entering the warehouse is a bit like entering a candy shop. Every possible big motorbike you can imagine is in that warehouse. Suzuki, Kawasaki, BMW, Honda,… I get a little tear in my eye just thinking about this magical place. I’m soaked and I feel miserable, but still I feel like I’m in heaven. I try to convince them to let me sleep in the warehouse, just for one night. But due to security reasons that’s not possible.

What motorcyclists would describe as heaven
Anybody wants an extra KLR 650?

Lawrence gives me the address of a fairly cheap hotel. I will not write too much about the hotel, or about the food or the price. I just want to forget… Here’s a picture of the view from my room, just to give an indication. (small remark: the staff was very nice)

Hotel room with a view on the … well shacks. 

In hindsight it would have been better to stop before Nairobi, but then, where would have been the adventure, the unexpected encounter? Isn’t that what this trip is all about?

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