The Face of Kindness V: Nairobi style

Some things give you small pinches of happiness, some things make you smile a little and some things just make your heart melt. Today I received an email of my wonderful host Njeri Mwangi in Kenya, she wrote:


The little ones have called out for you so randomly, they do not get that you have gone to a faraway land and won’t be seeing you in a while. So I play the clip of you doing your poems that night. Naila now knows to find it and play it all by herself. 


Naila is two-and-half years old, and the poem she watches me recite is probably about a monkey. I performed this small poem on one of my last nights at a poetry event called Sitawa Ignited. Njeri was so kind to record it with her phone, but I never dared to watch it back being a bit too self-conscious of my first try out and lack of practice (but nevertheless a great experience and if you ever find yourself in Nairobi make sure you catch a performance of Sitawa, El Poet and their many poetic friends).


Naila certainly became my friend this past month, and so did her older brother Nate of five (although we may argue over the remote control again) and her younger brother Jabali of one-and-a-half. They offered me something children do with so much ease: give you the best of their love without questioning who or what you are.


And out of all the things I thought I had come to Kenya for, this was the thing I had least expected, but turned out to be the providence of what I needed exactly: the warmth and care of the Mwangi family (certainly assisted by the excellent care of Josephine!) It was an overwhelming experience of love and confidence in the midst of their life which is quite often a roller coaster with more events happening in a day than most people experience in a week, or maybe even a month. They led me happily run along – even when I wasn’t all that happy all the time, being quite overwhelmed by all the impressions as well  – and gave me the feeling like I had always been there. They introduced me to tons of people, took me to events, made sure I got home safely at night, explained every question I had, their energy spend on me was tireless.


I can only conclude they have kept the same natural ease their children have inherited so well, offer love and care whenever they get an opportunity. And this is reflected in the people at Pawa 254. For some reason their spirits are aligned to create a warm welcome to anyone who takes an interest in their work. Of course there are issues, daily work struggles, stress of too many things to do, expectations towards each other that cannot always be met, and an office under reconstruction with a contractor that doesn’t really do his work properly isn’t really easy, but hey, that doesn’t deter them from organising a demonstration, receiving the CEO of google or organise a great workshop on political tools for activist, design some awesome graffiti’s, write critical political essays, receive endless media crews from all parts of the world and do interviews etc.  


This only leaves me to say, thank you great people of Pawa 254, but most of all Thank you Boniface and Njeri, keep up your amazing work for what you believe in and the great people around you  – you made absolutely sure I found inspiration in the most unexpected way and made this encounter with the face of kindness and love an unforgettable experience once again. It must have been the wind that carried me.


Ps 1 And yes, I’m totally aware I bought some of your children’s love with stroopwafels, but I’ll bring ‘bikkits’ any time they’ll ask for them and when you need some assistance to take care of them (again).

Ps 2 For those of you curious about the poem – see next post ‘Switch’

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