Mal d'Afrique

A KENYAN WEDNESDAY

I love Kenya because i don't want a fake life

The choice of a (former) globetrotter

08-06-2022 by Marco Bigi

Why do I love Kenya and want to live there?

I have always been a globetrotter, first for work and then, when I could afford it also for pleasure. Ever since I was a child, from my first picnic on the Ticino with my parents, I have always suffered from a strange disease, Fantastichitis, the symptoms of which make me fantasize about moving to live in the place I visit, whether it be Rezzago, 50 km from my native Milan (where I have spent my strange last 8 months), or Papeete (Tahiti) 16344 km as the crow flies (where I would gladly have spent at least 80 months).

After discovering that I share a passion for travel with my wife Lara, we traveled together from the Caribbean to Japan, from the Canary Islands to the Seychelles, from the Maldives to Australia, perfecting the cure to Fantastichitis with that hindsight that, after so much dreaming, makes you say, "Beautiful yes, but I wouldn't live there."

And so in the summer of 2010 we spent our first too-short vacation in Kenya, including a safari at Tsavo and visits to friends, including Freddie (I already knew him from his days as a journalist in Italy) who offered to be our guide in and around Malindi. We felt lost in the contrast between the wonder of the savannah and the rawness of everyday African life, between the smiles of the children and the box-breaking of the beach boys, between the blue of the sky and the garbage on the streets, between the sense of freedom and the barbed wire on the walls. We left the final verdict pending and returned to Italy, where we had work to do for a couple more years.

Now almost immune to Fantastichitis we collected the photos of Kenya in our tenth photo album and threw us both back into the whirlwind of RAI work.

In 2012, I felt the need to prepare a plan B, sensing the imminent collapse of job stability in TV, and told Lara that I was thinking of going to the Canary Islands (which we had visited a few years earlier, guests of a musician friend who worked every night in hotels) to see if it might be a suitable place for us.

Lara, unexpectedly replied, "No, a crowded place with skyscrapers on the beach no, rather Kenya!" I was interjected but took her at her word and began a long email correspondence with Freddie starting with this question, "Can you tell me why everyone gets motion sickness in Africa and we didn't?"
Freddie replied, "If you come here you are my guest and I will explain it to you, in fact, since I have to come to Italy in June to sign a publishing contract, I will pick you up and we will fly together to Kenya."

And so it was.

I spent a couple of months with Freddie who took me around, introduced me to his Kenya, introduced me to the "pole pole" philosophy in which I fully recognized myself, we started writing a show complete with original songs, enjoyed delicious eats, wandered around looking for the perfect sunset. Almost without realizing it, by now I too had fallen squarely into the African Sickness, the only cure for which lies in spending as much time in Africa as possible, because away from that continent a nagging nostalgia begins to grip you.

The fact is that by the time Lara (infected well before me) joined me in August, I had already signed a lease for the spartan cottage next door to my mentor's, and from there, laughing and joking, we spent an average of eight months a year for ten consecutive years in Malindi.

Why do I want to live in Kenya? What a question... I don't want to live in Kenya, in the sense that it is not a fantasy: I live in Kenya and this is a reality, the result of a choice (and not of luck as many sighing people tell me). In all other places I pretend to live.

TAGS: mal d'Africanostalgiavivere in Kenyalettori

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