‘- In December I'm going back to Kenya, would you like to accompany me for a couple of weeks?’ ‘- Sure!’
That’s how it started. Not a further question about what, where, how, nor why. What was important was to leave for Africa, getting out of a European reality that was marked by political disillusion and disaffection, beers and cigarettes, contrails and chemtrails. A chance to test some hypothesis, to experience differences, to enlarge my comfort zone, and to take plenty of pictures. Photography is what made me say yes without a moment of hesitation, without a single doubt coming to my mind.
The preparation of the travel gravitated from shifting my attention on avoiding the emergence of expectations to dissolving the ones that had already gone through. 'Focus on the here and now: you're not in Kenya yet, and there's plenty of things you want to do before that.' Challenging and, of course, not a 'perfect' outcome. But what is perfection, and why should it matter anyway? Keeping the mental focus made every other detail come out as orchids in a placid lake.
A short stop in Dubai to catch another plane and contribute to an illusory economy, and we landed in the 'modern' Kenya. I look at the sky: not one cloud in the sky, not one trail of an aeroplane. The hot sun turns our clothes obsolete, while the traffic jam keeps us into ordinary madness. I breath in deeply a mix of smog, dust, and fresh air and I can bear the taste better than I could in Italy. On the plane I met an Indian-Kenyan young man who explained me how helpful it was to have a car in Nairobi, but I still think that two wheels are more than enough to move around a place where rain appears rarely. We are very near the equator, so days have the same length almost all year round and season are not as sharply divided as they used to be in Europe. No solar plants around, nor solar cells on building. Electricity is centralized through a huge dam on the nearest lake and sold to nairobians; clean water too. Also here there's much space for improvement.
We got lucky, and we will have travelled in Kenya during the mango season. Or at least it will be such for us! For the next two weeks, we will visit Christian souls that got in contact with Christina as she volunteered already many years ago. Few days on one of Nairobi’s hills, few more days in a neighborhood of one of Nairobi's slums, a week closer to equatorial forest and to a greener side of Kenya, and back to Nairobi for a few more days before leaving for Italy. Every person we met on the way is doing its best to create a positive impact, yet each is doing it differently. A school is being built right next to a medical ceter, which serves as the main income generator to keep the construction going. A water and sanitation system has been built and deploys water to three different counties. Many mothers, fathers, children and lonely souls are still being blessed and guided towards a Christian life.
It's impressive how the closer I got to the forests, the further away I felt from the jungle. Not the jungle we keep in our imaginary reservoirs anymore, the green wild forest where you got to be careful not to step on a huge snake or some dangerous plant. No, now we need to look at the 'modern' jungle, the one made of steel, and tires, and bricks, and gas, and trucks, and traffic lamps, and phones, and people... People walking every day from the slum to the center of the city, either to work or to find one. People looking for space and appreciation. People looking for a purpose, whether meaningful or meaningless.. Walking on the highway, a river of souls starves from freedom.
I still have to really figure out what modern means to me, but as a practical concept it surely has several in-built contradictions. From the most evident ones to the more subtle ones, contradictions imply or even emphasize a modus operandi known as 'compromise'. To put it bluntly: you say something, you do the opposite, and you achieve an in-between outcome that is only partially satisfying — or dissatisfying — either way. If your goal is what you say or what you do, you only taste the feeling of achievement, but cannot get a hold to it unless you do another compromise, this time with yourself. You tell yourself that something is better than nothing, that both sides a little bit happy is better than both unhappy. You tell yourself that life is contradictory, and so it is inevitable to live it in compromises. You lie. You turn your eyes outwards where they need to be directed inwards. So do the opposite, again. Is life really contradictory, or is it us that live in a contradictory manner? Is it contradictory to a plant, or an animal? Is it contradictory to an atom? And is it contradictory to a planet, or a star?
To me, life is not contradictory at all. It becomes so only when you decide to live your life as a constant compromise, when you abide to a zero sum game romantically called development, lately disguised as democracy, modernization maybe, or why not humanitarian assistance, but nothing more than a sick game where one has to loose for one to win.. And so I think to my self: Do I want to play this game? Do I even have to?! Well.. NO, not really. I prefer playing on with a camera, and I bought my self a ukulele.