The Kenyan superstar has been busy: performing, hosting live music gigs and running a driving school for women. He shares with us some anecdotes from his travels.
Everyone was running around in shorts and vests and I was thinking, “It’s so cold!”
I wasn’t ready for Boston’s cold. I’d been in London a year, where even in the dead of winter it didn’t snow. And then there I was, freshly arrived in Boston in mid-May.
The temperature was 50 Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) and everyone was in shorts and vests and I was thinking, “It’s so cold!”
The other big surprise was ordering a sandwich at Subway and discovering you’d have to say the kind of bread or cheese you wanted. I just wanted a sandwich!
But Boston was also very nurturing, unlike New York, which was intimidating. I fell into a nice community in Boston with my church and the Kenyans, and at the college: it was wonderful to be with all these people who were just as motivated as you and as mad as you were about the thing you’d come to study.
You’d be lying on your bed with the plains of the Maasai Mara right in front of you
There are two contenders for “most romantic trip.” The first: my wife Sheba and I went to this tented camp in the Mara run by &Beyond. You think it’s going to be threadbare, but the tents are safari chic and quite luxurious; they even took us on a balloon safari with champagne and you’d be lying on your bed with the plains of the Maasai Mara right in front of you. The other? Sheba and I didn’t go for our honeymoon until three years after we were married, when we went to Paris.
It was cold, but nothing beats Boston (other than Toronto, or Alaska). We’re both art lovers so we did a lot of museums and got to see the Louvre and the Mona Lisa [painting].
We spent so much time to get to the Mona Lisa because the line was so long and then as soon as you got to the front, people behind were trying to get you to move and you’re like “I wanna see it some more!”
She was like: “Shillings, c’est quoi?”
I never forget my passport when I am travelling, or my yellow fever certificate.Oh, and cash! My wife and I have landed in West Africa without cash. Even if the ATM is right there, you need cash to get your visa. We were stuck in Abidjan [in Ivory Coast] for 36 hours, and they only let us out of the airport after we agreed to take the immigration officer, her superior and the lieutenant to an ATM, take out money and give them [some] individually. Essentially a bribe.
West Africa, you gotta carry cash. And not shillings: she was like, “Shillings, c’est quoi?” You need dollars, euros, pounds…
Like a crunchy cracker with a bit of ash
I had my first prawn in Mombasa as a seven year-old. I was eating it and then my brother said, “Remember the thing you saw on the beach today? That’s what you’re eating.”
I was a little horrified. I’ve learnt to experiment a lot more with food and will eat just about anything. I’ve eaten those little hairy caterpillars that are green and black. Sheba’s best friend comes from Botswana and they sun-dry them. It’s crunchy and you get over it.
They taste like a crunchy cracker with a bit of ash, maybe?
He’s never seen black people
I showed up in London on my first day in the UK and I wanted to buy this jacket so I walked into a store and asked about it, and this salesperson starts to make fun of my accent.My friend who was with me burst out laughing and at that point, I was asked by a student whether we lived in trees. That was a bit shocking. You get a bit of that, but it’s not pervasive, at least not in the circles I’ve been in.
The first day in this mountain village in Switzerland, a man approached me and asked in French whether he could touch my hair. I’m like, “Well, he’s never seen black people.”