2020 started on a high, typical of new years and new decades. I was getting drunk on my own Koolaid because this is the year I turn 30 and it finally seemed like with all the trauma I went through in 2018 and 2019, this was going to be the year of the silver lining. Much to my chagrin, 2020 has brought with it disaster after disaster, disappointment and tears and the biggest one being uncertainty. The world shut down before our eyes in March 2020 and it seemed for a moment like we were stuck in the eye of a tornado whose vortex is spinning in slow motion.
I stayed at work being willfully optimistic that the year would turn around and things would go back to being normal and I would turn 30 with the rachetry that the big 3-0 deserves, however, looking out the window of my 3rd-floor office in Riverside Drive in May made me realize we were living in the new normal. This is probably what life is going to be moving forward; masks, social distancing, failing economy etc. Instead of the anxiety that had characterized the past few weeks, I began to feel a sense of calm, probably around the fact that this thing (COVID) wasn’t really going anywhere and the best way to survive it is to just build your life around the new normal.
I’m scrolling my feed on Twitter in the last week of May and my friend MK was going on and on about New Normal and this secret plan he had for Madaraka day.
For 7 days he is tweeting and raising my curiosity and his partner @TheFlyingKenyan refuses to tell me what the plan is despite me using my best tricks to find out… (Rolls eyes).
Day 5 of the bits, pieces and suspense, MK runs a competition on his IG and says whoever wins shall get to participate in the secret day activities. I love competitions (more on this later) so I answered the questions perhaps an hour after despite thinking that all slots had already filled up.
Pssst, click on the questions to get the answers, do not be a lazy twat!!
7. What’s your secret superpower? We’ll need it to complete the mission successfully. What is yours? Tap into it always!!
I was the first to answer all questions correctly (no surprises there) and consequently the winner of the competition and so I received the much-awaited invite to see what the surprise was.
I have to be honest, the exhilaration of participating in a competition and winning was soon overtaken by my introversion and my overwhelming feelings of loving the great indoors and I started to feel like perhaps I shouldn’t go to the surprise full day thing. Not knowing what it was made me also feel like I really did not need more uncertainty in my life. The care package from Genteel_Ke and Peperuka World changed everything! It was the cutest t-shirt ever, some fridge magnets (that I have to now hide when I have guests) and some facemasks delivered straight to my house. It really did reassure me that this was going to be an amazing experience and all of a sudden I was ready to do this full day surprise.
D-Day comes and at 5.30 am a van picks me up at my gate.
I took this Nightscape just before I boarded and off we went to the heart of CBD after picking up Lady Grace with the Felt Fedora and Clench, the resident Turnup Minor.
At this point, we still didn’t know what the itinerary was and I was keeping my mind open to the possibilities.
The van stopped outside the ministry of Health offices, which is the Nairobi City View Point which A. I didn’t know existed and B. Is a really cool spot to capture the city skyline.
My entire tribe of friends was there; MadeKarubiu, Dash, TheFlyingKenyan, Mo, Reece, Nyingi, Clench, Mike and a few other people. Wasn’t I glad to see all these beautiful people! Hugs were inevitable, laughter was inevitable and it had the makings of a small reunion. My heart was full of love and warmth. My T-shirt was the butt of many jabs, “Ungovernable” was the caption on it because apparently I cannot be governed, as evidenced by pictures that I shall not share at this time.
The next few hours were a flurry of activities: we took a tour of Uhuru Park, learning our history which is very insightful. Everything you think you know about Kenya and Nairobi is a lie. A few minutes with ChinkuTravels really opened my eyes to a lot of things I was previously ignorant about.
At Uhuru Park Lake, we had a boat race. It was the first time in the park and on the boats and I really want to go back. Clench and I spent our time on the water bumping our boat against unsuspecting riders like Maureen who was very afraid of falling overboard.
Then, we had a long race from one end of the lake to the bridge side and MK thinks he won the race but really it was Clench and me who did. The election was disputed, votes were stolen in favour of our opponents and therefore we must return for a rematch. Breakfast was served by Amalie of Tandika Mkeka, and it reminded me of my days at the coast… the katlesi was all so heavenly. I have been meaning to order a bucketful of them but I am going through Intermittent Fasting to lose all this quarantine weight.
After the park we headed to GP_Karting in Langata where we were divided into groups to race and whereas all my friends impressed me with their speed, Dash and Mike did so poorly with both of them coming last and instead of taking their L’s started to blame their carts for their dismal performance. MadeKarubiu was a strong racer and Dash has challenged him for a rematch. I will be back with this tea when he looses again. Haha!
We did lunch after then headed to Ololua Nature trail for some games. One of the things that this session taught me was that you really must cultivate a lot of confidence in life because TheFlyingKenyan was so confident doing the wrong thing that the people who were doing it right were a little confused. My ribs really hurt from all the laughing. The contactless Teambuilding by MartoMarto was so much fun, I quickly discovered a lot of us have zero hand-eye and ear coordination. Some of the songs are still stuck in my head and I sing them to motivate myself whilst doing house chores.
Guri Guri Guri Ramsamsam
It was now the end of the day and we had to get home before the 7 pm curfew. As I walked into my house that evening, my heart was full of love and warmth that I had shared with this tribe I found in 2018, the memories we shared in the past and these new memories we are forming as we all come to terms with our new normal.
This tribe of people have been my fam since 2018 and despite having been through the most, finding time to tour the city and laugh amidst this whole situation was more than I could have asked for this year.
So what does freedom mean to me? Freedom is finding your Tribe: Finding people you can do life with and loving them as they are. Freedom is Travel: Getting to see the world and learning culture and history. Freedom is Love: For yourself, for your fam, for humanity and all creatures of the universe. Freedom is choosing happiness even when the world around you is falling apart.