Peter Durand

Nairobi Day 4: Kicking Around Downtown / Lower Kabete Road / K.I.A.

In Journal on February 6, 2012 at 2:33 pm
Today, we hired the Hersmans' friend, Kennedy, to drive us around town, starting with The New Stanley Hotel. This is a place of legend from the days of mustachioed aristocrats heading on big gun safaris from the back of convertible Rolls Royces. Hemmingway's crowd congregated at the Thorn Tree Cafe.
We headed up Lower Kabete Road to find the Kenya Institute of Administration where my father taught in a program for magistrates.
The road winds through old villas and new housing projects draped in shady trees.
There is still a tremendous amount of security for each house… barbed wire, electric fences, steel gates.
We were also searching for the house that my mother and father lived in back in the late 1960s. Our driver joked that perhaps it is here in the pile of recycled building materials.
I enjoy all the types of gates and fencing solutions full of ingenuity and color.
We found the Institute and decided to see if we could get inside to look around.
We were met by a grumpy soldier with a large machine gun who said that it was not possible to enter.
Another guard eventually heard mom's story, made a phone call, took my passport, and let us through to reception.
The assistant director took us back to his office and after hearing that Dad was involved in the early years of the Institution, made a call to the director of the museum.
The Asst. Director personally walked us to the museum past the beautiful landscaping, explaining to us the changes in the Kenyan constitution.
And lo and behold! My dad was spotted in a group photo hanging on the museum wall!
In this photo, Dad was probably 35-years-old. Mom remarked: "Hey! He was good looking!"
I was really choked up after all the years of hearing about his work, but never having a visual of what this place was like. And then to see that his work really did contribute to a country.
I feel very proud and amazed that this day came to pass.

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