A Stranger from Kiambu

by Feb 10, 2022Observations0 comments

“It´s a beautiful day, Its a beautiful morning, I´m coming home, Its a beautiful day, memories are calling, I´m coming home” by Sasha

The song kept playing in my mind and I was excited to be flying back home after so many years. My bags were filled with presents for my family and friends not forgetting the milka chocolate and Haribo for the kids.

There is always this inner connection to the place where you grew up and spent your youth. The schools you attended, the church your family went to, the places you played “cha baba na cha mama” with you comrades, the kiosk and mama mboga you were always sent to and most importantly, your favorite hiding spots.

While waiting for my connecting flight to Nairobi, I learned that this inter-african connection was not always a happy one and that not everyone had the excitement of going back home.

a starnger from kiambu
Photo by Sergey Pesterev

I was already tired from my flight from Frankfurt Main and was walking through the terminal at Bole International airport when a young lady stopped to ask me where I was heading to. I found it Kind of weird to be asked where I was heading to, so I politely asked her what she was looking for. “I am looking for Gate 14 A” she replied. I am not sure where it is but guess its straight ahead, I am also heading to gate 14 A. I replied. She seemed relieved by my answer.

She was´nt sure if gate 14A was the correct boarding gate to Nairobi neither was I, but that is what was printed on my boarding pass, so I steadily walked straight ahead while pulling my hand luggage behind me. I scanned the 14 A seating area and decided for a seat facing the runway.

Due to covid-19 measures, every second seat had a tape restricting anybody from using the seat. She followed me and took the next possible seat from mine. She removed her facial mask and looked at me friendly, smiled and asked me where I was coming from. “Frankfurt”, I responded and her eyes lit up. I reciprocated the question and sparkle in her eyes vanished. Her facial expresion was a mixture of disappointment and sadness. Not wanting to appear too downcast, she smiled and said “Sudan.”

Sudan! I exclaimed, was´nt there a civil war over there at least for the southern part. She explained that the civil war had ended a few years back and that she had found a position as a home management assistant. She was´nt satisfied about how she was treated and so after around eight months she was flying back home.

I dint want to dig deeper into this strangers personal life so, I just listened. Well, she continued, I would go work in Qatar or Dubai. People easily find work there and there are many agents who can assist with the application, she continued. I just nodded and was really concerned if she was aware of what happens in these countries.

I had read an article on The Guardian about labour exploitation on immigrant workers in Qatar who mostly come from Asia and Africa. Based on the kalafa visa the worker was bond to the employer most of who misused this right and become abusive and exploitative. I did not have the heart to tumble her dream so I kept the Information to myself. Who knows, perhaps there were good employers in Qatar and majority did not always mean all.


I was seated facing the glass fasade that gave way to a nice view of the airports comings and goings. Not wanting to dig deeper, I opened my backpack and took out the apples, carrots and cucumbers I had washed, neatly cut and packaged the day earlier and shared it with her. Maybe a gesture of comfort trying to reassure her that I felt her disappointment or maybe I just wanted to share my apples.

Boarding time arrived and we parted ways.
Stranger from Kiambu! I trully hope you find whatever it is you are searching for.

By Nessa.


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