It is been a year in my new corporate job and I have been enjoying it. The diversity of clientele is what I like most. I must admit I have a little weakness for those originating from Africa and for a reason – I am tied by blood and education to the continent and each day I spend out of it, I am preparing for when I will come back to it.
I could hardly hide my inner child explosive joy when Boss 1 and Boss 2 as I like to call them decided I was ready for my first business trip to … Kenya! I pretended I was super cool with the news but inside my chest, my body was dancing the african samba on Papa wamba’s rythmes.
The result of these three days bounding with Boss2? Too many clients meetings to which our lovely driver Jacob (note 1: please ask me for his details if you ever plan to visit Nairobi) was fighting the dense traffic of Nairobi to get us to on time, an incredible story of a phone which disappears and hides under the car seat, a fire drill which obliges us to discover the wonders of Uber in Nairobi, various unexpectedly cashless services and facilities and more and more.
The most welcoming part of the trip were the gardens of the peaceful Fairmont The Norfolk colonial style hotel in the upper side of downtown. The birds and bats singing for us and flying above our heads are bigger than anything I have been so far.
Behind the hotel, a commercial street – nothing touristic – to get the best Kenya printed fabric. The owner was surprised at the white chick challenging him on the origin and quality of the Nigerian prints. I have also challenged the price but left more than I was convinced off on the table as it is part of Ashante Design philosophy to share the wealth with the populations back home.
Most of the business families we were visiting are in Westlands. That’s where you will find the Sankara hotel where we went for lunch and drinks and the Js Fresh Kitchen Musical restaurant (Mayaki Street), the most beautiful surprise of the weekend! Don’t miss this young Kenyan talents platform if you ever go to Kenya.
The last day, tired but eager to make the most of our trip, we head at 6:00 am at the Nairobi National Park and manage to even see 3 lazy lions getting a tan, tones of girafes, a hippo and many other wild animals. Felt like being in the Lion King Disney. Don’t forget your warm clothes if you are doing the trip in winter. We literally froze! You can feed the giraffes at the Giraffe Center and if you are clever and organised, you can even book a night over at The Giraffe Manor and have one of these majesties come and steal your morning croissant from your plate!
This trip reminded me to be and stay humble. The success of these entrepreneurial families, the succession and growth concerns they are facing, the sectors they vet in… every word coming out of their mouth is a gold mine to digg in. The learning possibilities are endless, and I am like a child in a toys shop!
I am proud to see my people so polite and well educating, smart and strategist about their moves, concerned by their national economies but already expanding regionally
I grow up raised in the dry and sunny West Africa and was in love with its people… East Africa made my heart swing… I wonder now which part of it will win me definetly, or maybe I should just go back to our nomade traditions and travel Africa tirelessly!!!