On the Edge of Lake Victoria
“Stop man-handling the muzungo. Show some manners!”
It started with a mail from a Kenyan Couch-Surfer in Kisumu. “Welcome to Kisumu”, was the subject line, “it is my greatest pleasure meeting you … if you have some time and you think of coming then you can call me”. So I did.
I hadn’t heard of Kisumu, which seemed like a good idea to go and find-out what it was like. Two days later, following a rickety, day-long bus ride, I found myself in the Western Kenyan city that lies close to the Ugandan border, on the edge of Lake Victoria, named so by John Hanning Speke in honour of our queen in 1858.
We climbed into a matatu and drove out to his little village, several kilometres from the city. Several hours later, after feasting on fresh tilapia fish from the lake, we were in a very “local” bar, with a band playing. Philip convinced me to get up to dance, which I failed to recognise as a bad idea.
Not only was I exemplifying the White Man’s lack of dancing ability, particularly to this Luo rhythm, but being the only muzungo there, attracted quite a lot of attention from the local ladies. As the singer was telling them to behave themselves, and “take their turn, one at a time” in between songs, my face was glowing red as I watched Philip’s amusement at this spectacle. He knew what he was letting me in for, and he was encouraging them.
It was late when we arrived back at his home, passing the Masai guards who are famed throughout Kenya for their honesty & loyalty. “They make the best security” I was told. I wish I’d had them on hand earlier in the night.