Nomad talks to the NTV news anchor and reporter about taking the chaos of Nairobi head on, introducing her teenage daughter to the simple pleasures of Atlantic City in New Jersey and how drinking gallons of flower tea means that you never have to stop eating.
Where is home?
Home to me is family. I consider myself to have two homes. Nairobi, Kenya, where I was born and raised [until the age of 10], and the US because I lived there for a good 14 years. So home is anywhere where I have blood relatives or people who are so close that I consider them family. I am always homesick. But what I love is that if I touch down in the US, I can just flow [back] into life there. If I touch down here, I can flow into life here.
New Jersey is not one of those states that you brag about being from. I grew up in Atlantic City. It was constantly on resort mode, no matter what time of year. Really laid back. Just like Mombasa. I guess any coastal town or city has that feel. My favourite thing [about Atlantic City] was the boardwalk [promenade]. It was great because you had local entertainment. I loved the funnel cakes. The menace of the boardwalk was seagulls. You literally had to cover your food because the seagulls would come and take off with it. As an adult, I am [experiencing the boardwalk] with my daughter. She loved the beach. She hated the seagulls just like me. Her getting the funnel cake and having the powdered sugar come off on her nose, those are little joys for me.
I love the madness of Nairobi. When I touch down in Nairobi, I feel like I am living again. You just get used to the ridiculous traffic. The only way you can get through is driving like a madwoman. You feel that you have control. As much as that may be mundane for some people, that gives me life because there is never a dull moment on the road.
How often do you get out of Nairobi?
I work weekends so I don’t get to travel outside of Nairobi as much as I would like to. [My weekend is] Monday and Tuesday. Nairobi is working and I am resting. But the problem is [that] when you want to do stuff, people are tired. I am ready to go on a Monday evening and people are like, ‘let’s wind down, take it down a notch.’ I make a point of not thinking about news when I leave that studio. For us, it’s so hard not to work. Even if you’re home and you turn on the news, you are working. You’re thinking, ‘they could have taken that angle with that story.’ But I make a point to turn the TV off.
Best trip ever?
I would say in 2015 when my daughter and I went to Disney World. The first time we went she was like one year old. She forgot about everything. [This time] she was a lot older and at the age where she was soaking everything in. We went for a lunch at Cinderella’s castle and it was amazing. She met all her favourite princesses. And the food was great. What was interesting though, we were the only black people in that room. It was hilarious. But we had fun. We had a blast. To be able to give that to her at that age I count as a blessing.
Worst trip ever?
We were travelling to Atlanta [in the US state of Georgia] to visit a friend who works for CNN. I had just bought my iPhone so I was treating it like a newborn baby. We were at the belt, waiting for our luggage to come out. Then the belt stops. For a good 15 minutes, they have no idea what is going on. So one of the attendants comes and he’s like: “Anyone with a purple bag?” So I am thinking, I have a purple bag. Next thing I see it come up and the lock on my bag somehow got stuck in the belt and stopped everything. They had to cut it out. My zip broke. I had some wipes in my bag that were a bit wetter than usual so the liquid got into my phone, my brand new iPhone. I had to turn the phone off, let sit for 15 minutes. I turned it back on and the moment I did, [my friend] was calling me. I told her, “You have no idea what we’ve been through.” That had to be the worst leg of a trip but not the worst trip.
Best food trip?
China was amazing. It’s funny – you think you know Chinese food because you’ve eaten in all the Chinese restaurants. But Chinese food in China is totally different from the commercialised mess we get in different parts of the world. I really liked how communal it was. It brought people together. Some eating habits of the Chinese were quite different. There was this flower tea that they served throughout the meal. Why? Because you’re going to be eating a lot. It feels like an 18-course meal. Afterwards I was wondering how I was able to eat so much and not feel bloated. The tea. It was the tea.
As told to Mutio Keli