Finding my voice on African soil

Kenya. The word alone conjures such spectacular images. It is a vast country on a huge continent that has brought out the writer in so many others, and yet it seemed to seal my inner voice that pushes me to write firmly shut.

The pure magic of a Kenyan sunset

It wasn’t so much writer’s block but more a case of writer’s doom. I rarely want to write about the negative or the real struggle, and I was struggling so instead I kept quiet. I wrote a bit about the challenges in the beginning, but to be honest, it felt too hard or insensitive to dwell and chew over them in a public forum. I respect writers immensely that are raw and honest about what they are going through, but for me, it just felt like this voice of depression and struggle wasn’t me. I didn’t know how to even start to write in that voice, it felt like a scared, vulnerable, occasionally angry voice had hijacked my creative microphone. I didn’t know how to process what I was seeing, from the extreme poverty to the sheer difficulty level of operating in such an inefficient and sometimes harsh environment, especially being in the weeds starting businesses and trying to build something meaningful.

Two young males fighting for status and position and of course lady elephants in Samburu National Park

Everything I put down on paper just felt either too depressing to share, of just me moaning or like glossed over bullshit.
For the first time in a long time I didn’t want to take pictures or document and share my experience, I just wanted desperately to blend into the background. For a white girl, who was for the first time living in a small very rural village with only one other white girl at the end, this is pretty much impossible. I craved anonymity in a way that I have never craved anything else, except the constant need of adventure and good champagne – even in tough times my passions stayed true!

Roadside entrepreneurship is amazing here, everyone is hustling for a better life

All that said, after almost three years in Kenya now and I wouldn’t take it back for anything. Without question, these have been some of the hardest years of my life thus far. I had never felt so disconnected from friends and family, had never had a more mentally or emotionally draining yet extremely rewarding job, and have never worked so hard to make basic progress in daily life. Others have done it better and longer than me, and I give the biggest hats off to them, they are the true rockstars.

A typical house in Isebania in Western Kenya, two families would usually share this one building.

But this isn’t a blog about the bad or me whining about weeks without water, power cuts, personal safety fears or safari ant attacks, this is a blog post to announce that I am ready to use my voice again. Whether it is talking about finding the love of my life here, our journey to make our lives the best possible, figuring out my passions, digging deep into who I am, and all of the adventures and rocky bits along the way.
Sometimes you fall head over heels so fast for a place. Albania captured by heart in a mere few weeks and walking the Camino del Norte in Spain still comes to me in my dreams. Kenya took awhile for me to do anything other than want to escape.
Last year I began to come to grips with my feelings about this uniquely Kenyan way of life and even though my inner writer’s voice feels pretty creaky from unuse, it’s time to dust it off, apply some WD-40 and start to tell my story about life in this country and continent that are full of savage beauty, intense hope, some horror, true strength, and so much humor!

What happens when a wildebeest walks alone Masai Mara (Photo collage credit by Greg Tift)

Here is the challenge I have issued to myself to get my writing groove back, over the next six weeks I am going to publish a blog a week. I warn you now, I am not really sure what shape things are going to take or what kind of meandering I might do, I am just going to write from the heart and make no promises to you except this one – I will be authentic and vulnerable.