First-hand Africa Experience| Blog 5 – The Stranger

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Original 2017-11-12

Basics of interviewee

The author of this article is Emma, who is a CIS volunteer since inception. The following is an excerpt taken from Emma’s diary during her work in Kenya.


Emma’s Diary

Get up early in the morning, hopping on matatu. I am rushing to the city centre, to meet up with colleagues before visiting a public school nearby.


Thanks for the traffic, it took an hour before arrival. I was the first, and my colleagues were still hitting the road. Found a place to sit, and wait a bit. After a while, there is this stranger, shaking but also walking towards me. I did not put too much on his greeting, though never did I know, he would be the character of today’s drama.


In the next half hour, he was sticking with me. He ran close and tried talking to me, totally disregarding my ignorance (and I was also wearing a headset). After a while, he even tried to touch me. I moved up and went to somewhere else. He kept following me closely, and murmuring along the way. I tried to understand his words but was in vain.


Even though I moved to a crowded place, he did not stop laying hands on me. I took off my headphone, stared at him straight and told him to stop. And of course, I moved again, this time to somewhere right between two men. He couldn’t squeeze in, though he was standing next to the man, and still keep shouting at me.


Right at that time, there came two policemen. I was about to go to them, though this idea was being put off shortly. That guy, he went straight and talked to the cops! I quickly turned my back (as expats we were often targets of cops, which also means troubles).


As the man passed, the local Kenyan standing next to me just asked, ‘Don’t you know this man?’. ‘Nope,’ I replied. ‘No worries, he would not dare to do anything as long as I am here,’ he said kindly. I reckon even for them, it is the first time encountering such weirdo. ‘Thanks!’ I felt somewhat more relaxed.


After a while, he came back from the police and talked to me again. It kept on until I finally meet up with my colleagues. Even when I entered a store, he would stand outside and wave across the glass. As my co-worker arrived, she went over and talked to him after hearing the full story. Yet at the end even such local Kenyan gave up. We gave up the idea of ‘negotiation’, and continued with what we were supposed to do.


Here, his story is coming to an end. When we got on the bus, this guy was standing outside to watch us leave, though I could tell he was pretty reluctant.



One of the most common questions I encountered, from my Chinese friends, is “Any ‘adventures’ in Kenya?”. And my mind always jumped out the picture of this stranger. Although it is a plain story without any plot nor climax, I still think it is pretty magical on its own.