Crossing the Closed Kenyan Border
Today was the day. Today, against my better judgment, the truck left Jinja and headed for the Kenyan border. The Kenya/Uganda border is technically closed for security reasons, but we’d heard that they were letting tourists through. Upon our arrival at the border we could look over the customs gates into Kenya to see a political rally supporting Moi (the current dictator) going on. Wonderful.
We cleared Ugandan immigration and waited at Kenyan immigration and customs while their immigration dudes sorted through everything. He finally cleared the truck and we eased forward into a country deep in the throes of a political learning process. They were learning that democracy is (in my opinion) one of the better systems, but accountability in the process is always necessary. The rally going on was supporting the status quo and these people seemed to be getting into it – possibly because Moi’s government was the only one they’d known since most of their births. When the life expectancy of a population isn’t over fifty years and a majority of them is in the twenty six year age bracket, then of course they’d support the current dictator and keep the status quo.
Our truck was stuck behind the Moi vehicle (complete with loudspeakers extolling the virtues of the KANU party) and as a result, all the people dancing and screaming Moi support slogans were screaming them at the truck full of mzungus as well. Jenni waved at someone and made the peace sign with her hand, but that person who wasn’t a Moi supporter became visible angry and screamed at her. Moi’s sign during the election was the peace symbol and making that sign to the locals showed your support for the KANU party. After we drove for a bit Mike turned to me and said that the people weren’t happy – they seemed concerned.
No doubt – there were four major political parties in their first democratic election in twenty six years: the ruling KANU party, the DP (Democratic Progressivista), the FORD-KANU party, and the FORD-something (the FORD party had experienced an internal rivalry earlier in the campaign and split into two separate parties.) We were heading to Kisumu to camp for the night, but I was beat so I went to take a nap on one of the back seats. I kept getting awakened by the screaming groups of three hundred people all having a political rally of one kind or another. It just made me more and more nervous because when this many people become involved and they don’t agree with the election results then there could be political strife.
We drove towards Kisumu when this bus came barreling down the road, ready to pass us. Africa buses aren’t known for their safety standards ad this one certainly hadn’t passed any safety tests, for the chassis was messed up and the bus was cruising down the highway at a very jaunted angle. It looked as though it was almost cruising down the highway sideways – it’s tail was definitely not in line with the front tires. As the bus passed us its rear slid a bit and hit our side view mirror, shattering it, before heading off down thee motorway in a cloud of black smoke.
We finally arrived at our campground literally on Lake Victoria, where we took everything off the truck. We had another Kenyan registered truck coming to meet us so we wouldn’t look as conspicuous travelling around Kenya. I heard Mick was driving “Bush Pig” straight through to Nairobi the next day so I asked him if we could tag along so we could get our flight out of the country ASAP. No problems. It was our last night with all the people from our safari so we tried to spend some time with them. Boz had arranged for some smoking materials for KSh100, and when it came all of us – Rich, Jenni & I were amazed. It was larger then a pint glass and dense – all for US$3.00. We had our last session together, along with a majority of the truck before retiring to bed.