Running in Nairobi with Lamu on my Mind

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That day, Monday 15th June started off in the middle of the night, like all other days. After jumping out of bed, flicking on my laptop and brushing my teeth, I sank into my maroon chair and relaxed for a few seconds. I thought about the maroon chair I was sitting on. It had quite a story behind it. As did my smooth work table. I closed my eyes and thought about that story.

It was April, 2012 and I wanted to travel to Lamu Island to begin another life there.

You see, I love to throw a few T-shirts into my rucksack and hop onto a bus, train or plane. I have been doing so ever since I finished High School.

I traveled all over Kenya: to the serene Rusinga Island in Lake Victoria, the ancestral home of Tom Mboya the independence icon; to the rugged Ringiti Island, a small rocky Island in Lake Victoria; to a Ugandan Island in the same lake whose name I can no longer recall; to Kaikor, deep in Turkana’s arid terrain; to Imola, where Formula 1’s San Marino Grand Prix is located; to the orderly Bonn in Germany; to the historic Italian city of Rome; to the Italian island of Sicily in Southern Italy; to the incomparable Mahe in Seychelles; to the sizzling Port Louis in Mauritius; to the inimitable Soweto in South Africa and to many other destinations around Africa and the world.

One of my travels had taken me to Lamu Island in the far north coast of Kenya. And I had fallen head over heels in love with the place.

In 2011 on New Year’s Eve, tragedy had struck Lamu when a passenger boat capsized and killed more than ten people. This, coupled with recent Al Shabaab attacks in the area, had drawn me back to Lamu Island in mid January 2012. Officially, I was there to report on the two stories for Radio France International. But I also wanted to reconnect with the Island. After working on the stories, I made a spontaneous decision as I am wont to do sometimes, that I would return to the island after a few months to settle there.

But before doing so I wanted to start an online radio station whose offices would be in Nairobi. When I started Sasafrica Productions back in 2005 while still in my twenties, the vision was to ‘unveil Africa.’ Time was ripe for an online radio station that would do exactly that. I was calling it AfricaSauti (voice of Africa). Its main reporters would be my long time friends Cathy Nanzala and Joan Aroni together with Charity Wangui and Johnson Muchiri, who I recruited through Brighter Monday. It was a very enterprising and talented team. They found the office in Ngara and even found a great deal for that maroon chair, computers tables and other office furniture. When we closed shop about a year later, that maroon swiveling chair plus one of the tables ended up in my home office.

All these memories were running in my mind when I started my dawn run at the Rhino Stretch. In order to give myself extra thrust, I imagined that I was running along the beaches of Lamu, with the waves roaring besides me. As such, the honks of Kangundo Road’s vehicles were replaced by refreshing roars of waves. This propelled me to run on in more relaxed fashion.

On a few occasions, fatigue would banish the Lamu thoughts and I would slow down to one of my ‘rest walks,’ as I panted like crazy. But that morning’s run proved to be a more relaxed one than others. That’s why when I reached Whitehouse and saw that I had run an average of 6.05, I was quite shocked. This was my best ever run outside of the Sport Club! Interestingly, two days later on Wednesday 17th June, my average time was exactly the same.

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