About Me

My photo
She is as deep as an underground tunnel and bright like a full moon on a warm summers night. Her purpose in this world is to challenge the impossible and conquer the undefeated. The world is her fortress and its satiny caress leads her through her life's journey. Embrace her, for her soul is but an open book, a mystical adventure waiting to be discovered...

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Africa Meet America

The travel to Africa was, as expected, quite a long flight but it was worth the start of what will be a multi-faceted adventure. As we become mature in age, friendships are a little more scarce to develop but in this case, life prevailed and the opportunity presented itself for familial relationships to develop during this journey. I spent 10 days in the Motherland with the following amazing people: Quinetha Frasier (CEO of The Global Foundation for Education and Economic Mobility - GFEEM the organization hosting the trip), Katisha Kinnebrew, Kenya Dunn, Rob Owens, Chenequa Mathis, and Tomeka Chappell. Of the six (6), I was only acquainted with two (2) but by the end that was no longer the case. We arrived at Palicina in the wee hours of the morning after sitting on a tarmac in Paris for nearly three hours. A period that I apparently slept through. This quaint little hotel tucked away just outside the busy streets of downtown Nairobi was the epitome of beautiful landscape, comfortable amenities and a sense of home while visiting a foreign land. Though we were all exhausted from the 20+ hour expedition, it became very clear that we had finally made it to our long awaited introduction to Nairobi, Kenya. My inability to sleep and decadence led me to draw a bath in the suites cozy jacuzzi. The fragrance of lemon grass and warm bubbles helped to ease my excitement so I could take a rest and awake to see Africa during normal daylight hours. Until then, ZZZzzzzzzzz..... 

My first breakfast in Nairobi consisted of fruit, eggs, sausage, toast, potatoes, and freshly squeezed mango juice. I didn't see breakfast being a problem here at all! Our first stop on the adventure was at Pam oloo Couture, where owner, first lady and fashion extraordinaire Pam Oloo was there to greet our group. It is here that we found beautiful fabrics collected from all over the globe and a talented tailor, John who had individual consultations with each of us. From there he would fit us for the most fashion forward posh Kenyan pieces. Pam and her team are located in the most adorable storefront boutique. We had the best time modeling clothes, looking at Pam's designs and getting measured for custom made clothing from Kenya. Check her out on the 'gram, pamoloo_couture.


After our private fitting, we went to a local store called Carrefour, the equivalent to a CVS on steroids' and got into a little retail trouble in Woolworths the equivalent to an H&M, which was located in a mini-shopping mall. Attached to the mall was a local restaurant chain called Java House. They had the best food, coffee and souvenir coffee mugs! Before we knew it, the day had come to an end. We took advantage of the jetlag by turning our temporary living quarters at Palacina into a hospitality suite. We talked, ate Kenyan KFC (yes, Africa has the equivalent to DoorDash too!), had a jam session compliments of Afrobeats and played cards until we could no longer keep our eyelids open. If today was this dope, I wonder what tomorrow will bring...

After breakfast we met our drivers Fadhili, Edwin and we shall not forget Peter the Great in the parking lot of the hotel. We shared laughs about yesterday's activities and split up into each of the cars. *It is important to note that having drivers didn't mean we were ballin' out of control, it was safer to have experienced drivers who understand the rules of Kenya's roadways, it was super convenient to have locals taking us around the region, and more importantly, it was another way to support keeping hardworking people employed. On our first activity of the day, we were heading to an Animal Orphanage called Impala Sanctuary. A Kenyan Government sponsored park, "Kenya Wildlife Services maintains Kenya's wildlife and administers National Parks space- over 10 million acres of the worlds greatest wildlife areas." The orphanage is home to animals who were abandoned by their parents or whose parents were killed by predator's in the wild. These animals will live out their remaining days in this park because they would unlikely survive in their natural environments. Before entering the park, it was required that we utilize the handwashing station and have our temperatures checked. I was thoroughly impressed with the extreme precautions taken to reduce the spread of COVID-19. For the duration of the trip, we would never enter a place without our temperatures being checked and hand sanitizer being pumped into our palms. We had the best time visiting with the animals, taking pictures, and learning from the park keepers the story of how and when each animal arrived at the park. These men were dedicated to the well-being and care of these animals, knew each animal by name and were proud experts of animal handling. The highlight of this experience was Tomeka being sprayed with lion urine while attempting to take a selfie in front of the lion cage. I snapped a picture of her just after it happened and lucky for her she was wearing a hooded rain jacket. Did she have an inkling that this would be her fate??? Apparently, there would not be a cat in all of Nairobi that would come near her with her cloak of lion urine. Too funny to describe with words or a photo, you most certainly had to be there!!! Might I add that the lion's name was David, see a photo of the culprit below. In addition to the urine shower (David was just protecting his lioness), a lion and lioness are always placed in pairs in a cage. Let's just say one couple was not shy with putting their love on display for our group to see and hear even while on the other side of the orphanage. 


As we exited the orhanage, we were met by members of the Maasai Tribe. According to Kenyacradle.com, the Maasai tribe is among the top five (5) tribes found in Kenya. They are Nilotes, a member of any several Indigenous Black people of the Sudan and Eastern Africa. The Maasai's econmomically sustain themselves via livestock (cattles, donkeys, sheep, goats, camels, etc..) and they traditionally can also jump really high! In the photos below, you can see them wearing beautiful bright wraps, handbeaded African jewelry and carved wooden sticks.

We jumped in the cars for a very short drive over to Bomas of Kenya where we would have lunch. Before we did that, we had to have a dance contest in the parking lot based on whose car had the better Afrobeats playing. We took a few pics, recorded a few videos and then headed towards our catered lunch in a very unique covered outdoor dining/event facility. It was never a straight shot with this crew!! It was here where the love of chapati was born. A delicious flat bread that can accompany any meal and for every meal, with the exception of breakfast, you would find it beautifully organized some where on my plate. Oh joy....*Remix* "We like Chapati".... After lunch, we went on a very cool tour as part of Bomas where there were real life replicas of traditional homesteads of Kenya's tribal communities. This was a self guided tour, however we had staff persons accompany us and provide in depth explanations. There were twenty three (23) homesteads displayed, most of which we were able to see. I learned that President Obama, whose father was African, is of the Luo tribe, Kikuyu people are very business oriented and that a friend of our group, Margaret "Maggy" Wanjiru Ndungu belongs to this tribe. I walked away with a very clear understanding of how polygamy worked within the tribes and why it worked as part of tribal tradition(s). The number of wives and children were indicative of success and wealth. Families lived together as one sharing responsibilities and upholding individual roles within the familial hierarchy. After the tour concluded, we headed over to where locals were selling items anywhere from jewelry, wood carvings/art/instruments, clothing, sandals, etc. After a little bit of retail therapy, we headed back to Palacina to get ready for dinner at Honey & dough, an incredibly adorable roof top restaurant in Nairobi. This would be our first experience dining in a restaurant outside of the Palacina and it was such a wonderful experience. The staff was accommodating and patient with our large group and the food was well prepared and tasty. We had limited time for evening activities as there was still a strict curfew of 10pm in place due to COVID. Being out after 10pm could result in fines or even jail time if caught without proper documentation, so we weren't willing to risk finding out what would happen to us as visiting Americans. In celebration of upcoming birthdays, Que arranged for a surprise dessert plate to come out to the group that also included kudos to Maggy for being such a great help to us during our visit! My birthday is coming up in July, Rob has a birthday coming in August and Fadhili refused to be left out because his birthday was at the end of May. I believe this is the start to us referring to each other as "family". Breaking bread together is a significant practice that creates very strong bonds between people from various cultures. When Africa met America, it was the most organic experience a mind could ever imagine. At this point in the trip, I have no idea what day it is so I stop trying to keep up with a calendar. I have somewhat adjusted to the time however, I am still making it to bed after 2am based on my preference to play cards and write in my journal.

Before getting started with the days activity, each person in the group received a request from Stephen Takyi, a Ghanaian student who GFEEM has sponsored to tour Kenya with our group. He requested to interview me specifically on my experience and dedication to a strong focus on empowering women and the impact visiting Africa has had on me. Kenya and I paired up for our interview and the others did a panel interview to better utilize time. It was such an experience with Fadhili in the background acting as videographer, audience and cheerleader. There were times where Kenya, Stephen and I had to avoid looking in Fadhili's direction to avoid laughter. The conversation was rich and reflective. During dinner later that evening at Dee Restaurant, Stephen shared that the opportunity to come to Kenya was a once in a lifetime opportunity. One that he would cherish for the rest of his life. I am always enamored not by who you stand before me as but what it took for you to get here. Stephen's story is one of strength, love, resilience and an undeniably bright future. Sending prayers for heartfelt blessings to this young man and his family. May whatever he desires in his heart come to fruition and bless multitudes. 

We traveled over to Center Market in Nairobi for a shopping experience that I will truly, never, EVER, forget. This place was filled with people everywhere selling everything from food to sandals. If I wasn't a strong negotiator upon arrival, I was definitely pretty polished by the end of the experience. Bartering is a must when shopping in the market but my goodness was it exhausting. Shadrack had no idea the kind of American women he was dealing with because we definitely gave him the business when it came to negotiating our prices. Some members of the family were more aggressive than others of us but I shall not name names.... Que & Chenequa. The poor man was wiping sweat from his brow when we left. Sorry not sorry! 

There were TONS of opportunities for dancing on this trip and we took full advantage ALL of them. On two occasions private dance parties were arranged for the group. While in Mombasa at Travellers Beach Hotel & Club, local Kenyan artist Apesi performed poolside and he taught us a few moves during his performance. While in Dasani Beach at Leapard Beach Resort an Afrobeats party with DJ Blaze had us all over the dance floor trying out new dance moves and singing our favorite Afrobeat hits at the top of our lungs. If only I could freeze these very moments to relive them in real time whenever I desire.

Giving Back & Giving Thanks -
This trip as a whole was a rewarding experience, however there were some extra special moments that reminded me of the importance of giving back. Finding ways to support the efforts of others and learning about the true meaning of community service is universal. Philanthropy Day with Deaf Haven and Queen Mother was a wonderfully fruitful experience as members of our travel family assisted with packing boxes consisting of cornmeal, rice, flour and laundry detergent for the deaf community in Nairobi. What a beautiful display of community for a group of people who are often overlooked. Here we also met Sylvia representing Hali Halisi, a mobile app for the hearing impaired. She shared that she has no hearing impaired family members but saw a need and wanted to be the person to address the needs. See the clip of her interview below. 

On another day, we were able to visit the Mikindani Royal Kids School with Ms. Rachel (Teacher) and Mr. Moses (Administrator). I have my moments of being bashful and having to speak in front of these young women was one of those moments. Each member of our group was asked to introduce themselves and share information about our background, hurdles we had to overcome and words of wisdom and encouragement for the young women to hold on to. I think the sharing about myself part is what got me a little nervous. When the spotlight was on, I had to put all fears behind me and speak truth to power. I spoke to the girls about having accountability partners if  they desire to achieve their life's dream. We all need people in our corner who will call us out when we need to regroup, comfort us during times of disappointment and sadness and cheer us to the finish line. We have to learn to invest in each other as there are several ways to make it to the finish line, the questions is which route is meant for you and who will be there with you along the way. The foundation provided the girls with basic feminine products to include sanitary items and essential toiletries. The students, teachers and administrator were thrilled about the donation and genuinely grateful for what, you and I with our privilege, may often be taken for granted. Some of the students live on campus while other commute. For one student, only a few hundred dollars would cover their tuition for the year. The staff was so dedicated in encouraging their students. Mr. Moses knew the career goal of each student. That is genuine care and interest in helping his students achieve their destiny in this life. Katisha came up with the great idea of collecting our hotel complementary toiletries items for the girls. Let's be clear that doing for others is the epitome of lifting as we climb more than it is charity, a word often misused.   

 - We left Diani Beach early morning, where our temporary living quarters were at the Leopard Beach Resort, in route to Tsavo East National Park where we would lodge at Tsavo East VOI Safari Lodge for the night. We participated in a morning tour of the Safari, braked for lunch, went back out before sunset and then again the next morning in route back to Diani Beach. During the safari we saw beautiful animals in their natural environment. I was expecting animals to be hanging out everywhere but that was not an accurate assumption. Tomeka snapped a photo of the entire crew napping in between animal citing's and suddenly popping up as if we had never dozed off when we got word of an animal appearance. Tomeka was the only one who managed to stay awake because of her coffee intake! We drove around in a ninja turtle van replica with the top open and sliding glass windows on the inside. I forgot to mention that we were visiting Africa during what was considered their winter, the equivalent to Fall in South Carolina. Temperatures were lower in Nairobi than in Mombasa, yet it got pretty cool while on the safari tour. As we were heading out of the safari the next morning, the ninja turtle van got a flat tire. In the middle of the safari! With wild animals present! We were asked to exit the van to reduce the weight. While our guide, Omar was tinkering with the tire, and drove it over a rock to get the flat tire off, we decided to play dress up with Rob (the fun of being the only male in the crew). Chenequa wrapped him in her new African wrap, he found himself a dried up branch for an additional prop and we made him jump to pay homage to the Maasai tribe while we snapped pictures for our gratification!! Tomeka and I discovered we could turn ourselves into cartoon characters on snapchat and went to town with selfies!! Here is the best part, Omar didn't adequately prepare us for his DEPARTURE!!! He mentioned that if an animal approached us that we shouldn't freak out and run for cover in various directions. Instead, we should look the animal(s) in the eyes and two step our way into the van. After his words of wisdom, he packed the tire in the back of a truck that came to pick him up and drove off leaving only the turtle van (filled with Americans) and safari dust behind. Needless to say, we got our hind parts in the van and closed the door the second he left. We used this bonding time to our advantage. Que pulled out the snacks and we discovered that Katisha was the only one of us who had internet access so we played the game for the culture for a little over an hour until Omar returned with a new tire. 

Kenyan Food & Drinks I had no complaints about the food as most of our dining experience, with the exception of breakfast, was buffet style. This way, we could choose what we wanted to try. Lots of soups (beef stew, lentil soup, goat soup, etc.), many chicken, lamb, fish, beef and pork options, mixed veggies (carrots, zucchini, broccoli, green beans) rice, potatoes, chapati, naan, ugali (corn flour ball that you take small pieces of and dip in soup), fruit (watermelon, papaya, mango, guava, pineapple). Kenyan red full body wine was very good and left such a pleasing taste on the palate. I am not a beer drinker but tried the Tusker Lager and it was surprisingly light and refreshing. I enjoy a good apple cider and found that the equivalent to the American Angry Orchard would be the Kenyan Tusker Cider, which became a popular choice among the travel family.
I have never laughed so much in my life. The personalities that came together on this journey I believe were truly predestined. The ability to travel with a large number of people is not always an ideal situation but we did alright. This trip was designed to introduce like minded individuals to the beautiful continent of Africa and to expose us to potential business partnerships that could pipeline from the States to Africa. I have already placed it in my heart and mind to partner with Kenya Dunn in developing a conference for women and girls. It will take a minimum of 2 years to build the momentum we need for favorable participation but I rarely shy away from what may seem, from a distance, impossible. I am so blessed and forever grateful to experience what some can only dream of. Until the next time, kwaheri Kenya. See you again in two years...



  1. Ken, what a tremendous recapture of your Kenyan Experience. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for sharing these beautiful images and vivid words

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.