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Kenya in Africa, Kenya in me

Kenya in Africa. Born in Africa. Kisii man from Nairobi. I don’t meet him in Africa.

I meet my Kisii man from Nairobi in Berkeley, California. Ain’t easy being an African in USAmerica.

It’s over a decade later when I am in Kenya in Africa for the first, second, and third time. Nairobi. Mombasa. Nairobi again and two more times in transit.

Nairobi is my first stop in black Africa. I am ashamed that I cannot get the first 30 seconds of “Circle of Life” from the Lion King out of my head for the first five or so days of my trip. It’s already playing in my head on landing on the tarmac at Jomo Kenyatta Airport.

Eventually, it’s replaced with another horrible song about Kenya, the Weebl video about Kenya. This earworm is only slayed after I actually see lions in Kenya.

None of these have anything to do with my actual experience of Nairobi.

Nairobi is easy, somehow. It is not the pairing of chaos and poverty I expected. There is poverty, yes. Evident.

Everywhere. But no chaos and certainly little slacking. It is bustling. Some of the worst traffic I have ever seen, short of Lagos.

Nairobi has a militaristic feel and speaks a militaristic version of Swahili. Perhaps it takes that to control its surprisingly stable tribalism. 

The people are precise and things work well. I perhaps don’t realize this while I’m in Kenya in Africa, but in the rest of Africa in comparison shows me more about Kenya.. I yearn for the organized efficiency of Nairobi, and this is why I return – I begin using it as an easy hub.

A decade earlier the Kisii man says lofty things on Craigslist. Deep things. Not the first or last time I’ll mistake drunken ramblings for deep thoughts. Sometimes they are. Some great work produced under the influence of alcohol. Mine, even, sometimes.

I’m in my seedy Craigslist phase, he’s not the first or last. But in the middle of that phase I meet him out at Cafe Gratitude in Berkeley when that was a thing (oh I have much more story on that…). He claims to be interested in health. I note that he only drinks a smoothie. Says he isn’t hungry.

He’s broke.

Much of Kenya in Africa is broke, but at the same time they have the fastest money transfer of the most cash via their cash app M-Pesa. 

I see M-Pesa power massive business and competition in Nairobi. Everything from mechanics to vegetable stores. A weight bench becomes a gym. A cot with a tarp over it at the side of a freeway onramp becomes a hotel. People make money whatever way they can think of when there’s a secure system of cash transfer. 

The hustle is deep in Kenya.

Kenya was the country that popularized mobile money accounts in the early 2000’s, so much so that 96% of households in Kenya have mobile money access. Now that’s some penetration.

Speaking of penetration, he’s nagging me because I make him wear a condom. Says I wouldn’t make him if he were white. Brings up the Madman, because I said I didn’t use one with him. I try to explain to him it isn’t about race.

But it is, and it isn’t, and it is, and it isn’t, and it is.


Kenya is the first place I hear the word. The first place I am called Muzungu. So many times. 

“Muzungu hello”

“Muzungu how are you?”

“Muzungu no corona in Kenya”

“Muzungu give me money”

“Muzungu taxi”

“Muzungu come in my shop/restaurant”

Not about race. I am a very clear white walking dollar bill in Kenya in Africa.

Granted Africa is closer to Europe so usually at first they guess me to be a white walking fancy peso (Euro. I call Euros fancy pesos because I think it’s funny). Often they guess German, which offends me.

I get it. Fair. Tall. White. Muzungu.

The word can be used in almost any context, the emotion of the word is what gives it meaning, but alone there’s a simple, cute, connotation to it. Literally, it means “wanderer”. There’s an acknowledgment in the word of the relative softness of the white person compared to the African. Their need for protection, least of all from the sun.

No far stretch that in deepest, darkest Africa any Muzungu seen must be lost, in need of products, transportation, sustenance, and shade. 

Kisii man is my first African lover of more than one night. There’s no words for the difference between him and the USAmerican and European lovers I’ve had. He once tried to explain to me, how things are different in Kenya. There, he said, sex between men and women is just a given, and it’s just a matter of time. 

“So everyone is just walking around like hey, hey, when you gonna break me off a piece of that?”

He gives it a more playful, fun, natural description by far than I am encountering in the dating scene in California in the early naughties, and he embodies that.

He’s expressive, talkative, moves from his center, voracious, very happy to please me.  There’s something too eager in his sexuality, it comes off too comedic to really get me wet. Perhaps some deep USAmerican racism there, that his flair reminds me of a minstrel show and triggers discomfort. There’s plenty of good on the other side – he has no need to prove his gender or squirm around it. He is an African man. 

At first we have good chemistry and the sight of his dark coffee against my cream is hot and beautiful. Like a zebra.

I see so many zebras in Kenya they get boring. They’re just stripey horses.

Though it’s not really my thing, I see plenty of zebras when I go on cheap safari with a friend of my host in Nairobi in Nairobi National Park where I see three of “The Big Five”. These are animals it used to be fashionable to keep a list of shooting with a gun, but now it’s been converted in the name of conservation into a fashion of shooting them with a camera.

African Buffalo.

African Buffalo eating. 

Rhinoceros sitting.

Rhinoceros standing.

Rhinoceros penis.

More rhinoceros penis.


Lion balls.


Also lots of giraffes.

No giraffe peen, but did see two teen giraffes fighting.

Later on the train to Mombasa, which I call the “poor woman’s safari”, I see a few African elephants from the window. That makes four of “The Big Five”, even if I didn’t manage to capture any photos of African elephants. No leopard for me yet. Have to go back to Africa. 

I get so excited that any time an elephant passes someone on the train car points it out. Loudly.

“Eh! Muzungu! Eh!” they say, pointing out the window at the elephants. Why would I need any kind of guide when all of Africa is here to help?

And again race. Nationalism. Ethnicity.

In both Nairobi and Mombasa I am once again surprised to see so many people of Indian descent. No one talks about the Indian diaspora. They are everywhere. Africa. The South Pacific. The Caribbean. The Middle East. The UK. The US. Always surprised how ignored it is for being the world’s largest diaspora…

Kenya’s tea culture is strong, it being both full of folx of Indian descent and a former British colony and.

My host in Nairobi is Luo, and wrinkles her nose slightly when I mention my Kisii man of the past. They are competing tribes. I confirm her distaste by telling her that he indeed was homeless and an alcoholic

When I met him he lived in his car. Soon afterwards his car was impounded, leaving him on the street. Sometimes he’d stay with me just to have a place to stay. 

Still fucked me good during those times.

Hard to remember the details but I do remember him devouring my body. Finding different scents and tastes, suckling every piece of me. His broad lips sucking my skin gently. Nipples addressed but not lingered upon. His soft, wet, thirsty tongue rolling over my clit. The sucking, wet, gobbling sounds of him eating my cunt. For him, making me come was delicious. 

I remember his rhythm, his hips, my hands across them as he swiveled into me intuitively, gently. And I remember him gaining rhythm, chugging like a train as he would speed into the final stretch. Him announcing it always:

“Here I come.” 

As he pounded into me for his last few strokes. Certainly he was right that it wasn’t the same because of the condom. But he was circumcised.

At thirteen. Most of the Kenyan tribes are. Except the Luo. They take the incisors instead. Obama’s father is Luo.

And then there are the Masai.

Nairobi is the first place I see Masai. I did not expect them to be cowherding their way through Nairobi, but apparently some concession is made for them and they’re allowed to move their herds through.

My Nairobi Luo host owns a liquor store. Not some roadside shack, she is licensed and it is a room with a shuttered door. Full of alcohol made in Kenya, imported from other African countries, and imported from outside of Africa. For Africa, it’s an impressive shop, akin to any corner liquor store in urban US. 

There is a curfew due to SARS-CoV-2, so she often sleeps in the shop to allow herself to work late, but avoid being harassed or even delayed past curfew by those who enforce it just to get the money out of her. 

We all sleep under mosquito nets in her house. Maybe a Malaria vaccine will be the only good thing to come out of SARS-CoV-2 for Kenya in Africa.

Her nephew is gearing up to go back to school for the first time in a year. He’s bouncing off the walls. I’m sure the uptick in African warlords created by a generation of African children missing school for a year or more or forever due to short-sighted “global” SARS-CoV-2 agreements won’t have any impact on the white world, she says sarcastically and hopelessly.

Nairobi is the first place I witness kids that would usually be in school selling masks by the side of the road. 

In Mombasa, I see Somali refugees mixed with Mombasa natives. The refugees are teaching the other kids how to beg from any white people. I’ve only been in Africa a week and I’m already exhausted from anyone of any age asking me for money. Just stone cold no. 

The East Coast of Africa begs relaxation. I kick back in Mombasa and enjoy coconuts.

A Dawa or two.

Dawas are the mixed drink of Kenya. (My preference: 1 lime, 1 tsp brown sugar, 6 ice cubes, 2.5 ounces vodka, honey to taste)

Mombasa has color and life, it is diverse and has that blend of African, Arab, and Indian culture and flavors that along with the heat and the surf mesmerize me into a lull.

Lazy wanderings of cat-filled Mombasa Old Town, where I am staying in an Airbnb with no refrigeration and a faucetless spigot of a shower.

After a few days of this I get a Covid test and head back to Nairobi. A different world.

On my further trips through Nairobi for transit they check my yellow fever card since I’ve now been to other African countries. I see a local woman talk her way out of showing hers which she claims to have left at home. Another Tanzanian man does the same, saying he takes this trip every week. Formal, yes. Unmovable, no.

I frown thinking of the time that DH spent over 32 hours in a room here in the Nairobi airport. Failing to give a bribe at the right time or acting nervous when he had to reason to be. He attracts trouble. Kenya is not the most bribey place in Africa.

I stay in the airport Hilton Garden Inn which has a few rooms with “superking” beds, which are extra wide and ridiculous especially with the low thread count sheets that were appointed for a bed that size and against the context of Kenya in Africa.

My Kisii man and I are together for some months, just around the first Obama election. (Oddly making this my second political appropriate election time hookup.)

He used to work with his mother selling soapstone carvings imported from Kenya at ethnic markets in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her failing health, his alcoholism, and the rise of cheap Chinese knockoff competition ended that for him.

We have a brief plan to import soapstone carvings of Obama carved by Kenyans in Africa. I am sure it would have been highly successful, but working with a homeless alcoholic doesn’t often lead anywhere good.

Even when he can’t follow through on a brilliantly timed idea, he still fucks very well. He is also the only man who ever has really outfucked me, left me swatting him off and away. I wasn’t as attracted to him as his sex drive was high. There are other lovers I’d fuck all day every day. It was a good experience, for once not being the one left wanting more.

We’ve been fucking for hours. 

Sideways from behind, one foot on the ground, the other knee on the bed, following the angle of my pussy, curled fingers into my hips, pulling me back into him. Leaning forward over me like a runner at a crouch start he rails his whole cock into me. His muscles tense and skin gleaming teeth bared eyes wide he gets that fuck-crazy look men do and I expect him to tell me:

“Here I come”, but he does not, instead he sputters in Swahili and calls me “MUZUNGU” when he comes. 

At the time I don’t get the significance.

Maybe I never will.

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