At Safaricom

We went to visit the leading Kenyan company, Safaricom…

From left to right: Tony, Muathy, Sebastien, Irène, Margot, Swaleh, Dida, the Safaricom host, myself, Nina, Sarah, Leah, Otego

Karen Blixen

This post is dedicated to the lady who let me in at a Resident Fee even though I had no proof of it.

“I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills…”

Last weekend I went to Karen Blixen’s home. It’s located in Nairobi in an area called Karen… Guess why!

Karen Blixen's home today a museum

Her book Out of Africa is truly  beautiful and funny. You learn a lot by reading it recommend it: even if you’ve loved the movie with Streep and Redford, you’ll still think the book is really wonderful and way deeper.

I had imagined her house much bigger: it’s a cozy bungalow with mahogony wood inside the stone walls to moderate the temperatures. I was surprised to see some of the paintings she had done of her squatters: that’s the name given to the people who lived in her farm. As talented for painting as she was for writing.

From her place you could see the Ngong Hills which means knuckles named thus because of their shape.

The place is located 16 km southwest of Nairobi : at that time it took two hours to reach! The Prince of Wales came to dine at her table and you can still see the menu. In her book, Blixen describes her Chef Kimante as exceptional, unlike the way he is portrayed in the movie, and he would never forget the recipes and named them according to the context in which they had been taught to him “ Thousand night stars fish” for example.

She always used to wear two hats because she was afraid her brain would melt due to the sun…

Initially it had been decided that her husband and her would have a cattle farm, but her husband Baron Blixen changed his mind advised by the other “expats” and bought coffee plantations instead. In this particular area it was too high for it to grow properly. After divorcing, and losing her lover in a plane crash, she left Africa broke and desperate and focused on writing. She published her books under the name of Isak Dinesen.

For more info about the book click here

My favourite vegetable ever

ladies fingers

look at the beautiful star shaped vegetable…

I had tasted it for the first time in 2008 in India. The lovely taste of something melting in your mouth. What’s it called? ” Laydiezfingars” – ” mmm, I beg your pardon?…-“Laydiezfingars.” – I couldn’t get it. The indian accent was not helping either… at that time I was just beginning to understand tamil English…

“You mean “ladies’ fingers” I asked showing my hand. “Yes that’s correct….

Of course when I told my mum the name of the vegetable she had the same reaction. We thought we din’t get it properly.

Then in Singapore also the Chinese cooked it.. mmmmiam….

Before coming to Africa I had tried to show this to my aunts and see if we could find it in Spain for them to taste. But I didn’t even know the name…

When I finally managed to check the spanish name ” el gombo” I didn’t find it on the peninsula.

I check the areas where it was grown before coming here, to see if I had a chance to find it in Kenya…. Yes!

Here I found it in a supermarket owned by Indian Kenyans… the Gujarati people that I had met in Pondicherry which had made a lot of business inTanzania, were also found in Kenya. The only difference is that the ones in Kenya had not been asked to leave as the ones in Tanzania. All those Gujaratis  were still very rich nowadays in Pondichery. Or at least they wanted to show they were. Everyone remembered Doctor Raichura and his Mercedes…

Here this is called Okra…

Below is my first cooking experience…mmm let me ask how they do it in Singapore next time I get there!


A carp from Lake Victoria…

This fresh water fish comes from Lake Victoria. This lake is one of the collectively known Great Lakes of Africa, among which Lake Victoria and Lake Tanganyika are two of the most famous one. These great lakes are a result of a rift. The rift has created depressions which are filled with water, sometimes alcaline, like in the case of Lake Nakuru.

Other lakes such as Lake Nakuru or Lake Naivasha can be seen on this blog.

Lake Vitoria is named after Queen Victoria – like many other places in Easter Africa such as for instance the Victoria Falls This is subject to confusion because the falls are not at all located in Eastern Africa : they are located in Southern Africa at the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe. For now, Lake Victoria is a natural border between Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

But here is one of the delicious fish coming straight from the town by the lake, Kisumu. The lake, like most fresh water areas in Africa, is inhabited by crocodiles and the fishermen risk their lives to get this fish for us.

In Nairobi, ladies like this one, set up a stove and fry it for us. Prices rage from 700 to 1200 Ksh (Kenyan Shillings) depending on the size of the fish.



Warthogs…phacochère in French…

before coming to Kenya I didn’t even know the word, not to speak of the animal… not even in French… They feed on their knees… so funny….They look like domesticated wild pigs, they look like cartoon animals! I see families:  the mother and the playful kids. They are never afraid of us…

more info click on the link to wikipedia

Shimba Hills National Reserve

Shimba hills is located in the Mombasa area. It’s a National Reserve where elephants, giraffes, buffaloes, baboons, antilopes and sable antilopes can be seen…

If we are looking for a water point and we find this tree it means the water is not far. This tree needs a lot of water and only grows where it can be found. The fruit of this tree was used as washing soap as once opened it produces foam.

Foam tree

This palm tree is the only one with branches. Its fruit is reddish and it ferments rather easily – although I didn’t understand how- and once it ferments the elephants eat it and get slightly tipsy , just like in Jumbo. By the way this is a Swahili word meaning “ hello”.

This is called crocodile liana and you can easily understand why…

Also here Sable antilopes can be found: it’s one of the only places where this graceful animal can be seen

And here is a video for you to watch

Happy Kenyans salute Obama’s victory…

When I walked into the classroom yesterday, my students were just watching the results of the US elections… that’s how I found out myself…..

Every day the internet was really busy because of their interest in following Obama!

The Kenyans are so proud of Barack Obama’s kenyan origins. But some of them say he’s not kenyan at all as he only came here three times in total, most of the Kenyans really identify with him!

Weaver birds

Every day on the way to work I am so so lucky to see weaver birds at work. It’s wonderful to walk in Langata, listening and seeing all sorts of colourful amazing birds!

Usually the weavers’ nests   are taken  from them and used by other birds. This is why in India, I often saw their nests, but never the weavers themselves.

They constantly weave and work at their nests. The most skilled of all birds.

They are originally from the Sub-African continent.

I filmed these male Speke weavers one morning and this is what their chants sound like!