"The first time I came to Kenya was in 1987. I
had just finished three years of work as a
community organizer in low-income
neighborhoods of Chicago, and was about to
enroll in law school. My sister, AUMA, was
teaching that year at this university, and so I
came to stay with her for a month.
My experience then was very different than it
has been on this trip. Instead of a motorcade,
we traveled in my sister's old VW Beetle, which
even then was already ten years old. When it
broke down in front of Uhuru Park, we had to
push until some joakalis came to fix it by the
side of the road. I slept on the couch of my
sister's apartment, not a fancy hotel, and often
took my meals at a small tea-house in
downtown Nairobi. When we went upcountry,
we traveled by train and matatu, with chickens
and collard greens and sometimes babies
placed in my lap.
And most importantly for me, I discovered the
story of my father's life, and the story of his
father before him.
I learned how my father had grown up in a
tiny village called Alego, near Siaya, during this
period of tumult. I began to understand and
appreciate the distance he had traveled - from
being a boy herding goats to a student at the
University of Hawaii and Harvard University to
the respected economist that he was upon his
return to Kenya".