On Thursday night I found myself in one of those settings where I felt totally “at home” – even more than I normally do. Those of you who are TCKs (Third Culture Kids) know that this can be quite a feat.
The Africa Cup of Nations was on, and I looked around the room. True, I was the only white guy in the room, but all but two of us were “foreigners.” 3 Sudanese, 2 Malawians, 1 Cameroonian, 1 Ugandan, outnumbering the 2 Kenyans. We all had a blast! Peter, my Cameroonian classmate, suffered many heart attacks, but ended the night rejoicing. Unfortunately (or fortunately as the case may be) I was too tired to stay up and watch my favored Elephants get trampled by the Egyptians (4-1). The evening reminded me of how often watching football (of the other kind) gave me an “in” back when I was in the US. I still follow the Washington Redskins though I haven’t seen a game of theirs since we left DC over five years ago.
Having spend most of my childhood in school environments in Congo (then Zaire), Liberia and Ivory Coast, being here at NEGST in Kenya is about as close to “home” as I could be anywhere – an academic community drawing people from all over Africa with a smattering of mzungus [technically “Europeans,” but basically “whites”] and Asians mixed in occasionally.
My kids are getting an ideal upbringing. The student housing block is swarming with kids, and their Kenyan primary school is within a 100 yards of our apartment, so all three kids (aged 7, 4, and 20 months) come and go by themselves. Kiara’s four best friends are from Kenya, Sudan, Cameroon, and Congo. Liam (20 months) can run around playing in the grass with kids his age all he wants. If I can’t see him out the window and go looking for him, someone can always tell me where he went. Worst case scenario, he would wander up to the main gate (about 1 km away) and have to be brought back by a security guard. Fortunately, this has not happened yet, but it does make us really grateful for the safe environment we live in now.