24-05-2022 by Freddie del Curatolo
A few days ago I met a young Kenyan boy who climbs perilous wooden structures more than twenty meters high for a living, obviously with no helmet, no net, and no harness of any kind.
When he saw me, he hoped I recognized him.
"Jambo, I am Kahindi!"
As I always tell so many, I explained to him that people are more likely to recognize me than I can remember them. "Like you there is no one," Rita Pavone sang, "fortunately," I would add.
Kahindi was one of the boys I had treated to a lunch in the village of Ganda ten years earlier in an attempt to give him a dream.
The ironic dedication of my book "Malindi Italy" was, "Dedicated to those sad whites who, even in Africa, don't greet you and smile at you even if you pay them, and to those Kenyans who, if you pay them even once, smile and greet you for life."
To make a long story short, it is worth telling what I had put in my mind in 2012.
That year there had been the first of many drought seasons to come to the Kenyan coast, the first symptom of the planet's climate ailments that are often more evident at the Equator.
The poor people around Malindi were at their wits' end.
But tourism was working well, the hotels were full for the summer season so, using my connections with tourist business owners, local and Italian institutions, I decided that I would hold a "Malindi lottery" that, through the purchase of tickets at various outlets in the city, would give over 1,000 children the chance to have school and board paid for 1 or more years.
Meanwhile, in the meantime, I would go around the suburbs taking their names, school results, learning about the conditions of the families and, through sponsors I had convinced, offer precisely days of rice, beans and milk to the underprivileged kids of Malindi.
Although I did not remember Kahindi as I did so many other faces, those days, those feelings of smiles, melancholy, shyness, forbearance, courage, resignation, boldness, dignity and hope will forever remain etched in my mind.
The final night of the Malindi raffle was held at the Coral Key Resort.
We gave away a total of 9 years of schooling and canteen to the winners and through the initiative, tourists and Italian residents of Malindi donated more than 5,000 euros that enabled me other social and aid activities. Thank you Kahindi for reminding me of one of the many experiences carried out in Kenya.
Someday I will write the story of my African life, but I will need a long, long time.
And neither history nor life will stop waiting for me.
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