Friday, January 18, 2013

Kenya Post Card 1

I have been in Nairobi now for  almost a week, secluded in the very comfortable ILRI campus for most of that time. This is my first visit to Kenya.   In many ways the experience, at least environmentally, is not new - it is has all the familiar and enjoyable elements of the highland tropics. Much of the vegetation is very familiar with kikuyu grass and Australian tree species widespread.  Of course socially and politically it is far more complex and, thus far, beyond experience - see this TED talk for example.  That said, electioneering has begun in earnest for the Presidential and associated elections due in March. This is a significant moment for Kenya as a new constitution is being enacted with a new regional level of elected governance.

I have been impressed by the interest Kenyan's take in their politics - a contrast I feel to much of the apathy exhibited in say Australia or the UK.  Although highly disillusioned with their politicians they do not seem to have switched off. In contrast my first impressions, from an admittedly limited number of conversations, is that many are actively interested and engaged with developed views of how to make things better.

Our visit to Nairobi National Park early last Sunday was rewarding - we saw 17 species of mammal and many different birds including ostrich, two types of bustard, cranes etc. It was a rather surreal experience viewing these animals in an 'old natural habitat' with the burgeoning Nairobi skyline in the background - an example of the new 'natural'!