Nairobi National Museum

On Thursday, Monica and I decided to visit the Nairobi National Museum which is in downtown Nairobi.  I made it into town, to find that Monica was on African time.  So I stood waiting for half an hour at Accra Road – a very busy “bus station” (read: a weird, bustling market/matatu stand).  The recent grenade attacks have left Nairobi slightly on edge.  There’s a definite increase in armed police, military and security patrolling the streets, and all big shopping malls.  However, standing there at Accra Road, I couldn’t help but think that with the sheer amount of people going about their midday business, it would be very difficult to stop an attack in such a busy public place.  These thoughts were compounded, when I received a “terror update” sms from a reporter friend of mine- “Bus blown up and showered with bullets, all on board killed”.  I obviously assumed this was in Nairobi (it later turned out to be in Northern Kenya)… but it was the first time since being here that I felt a tinge of panic rising inside me.

Anyway, we headed over to the museum, which I have to say deserves top marks.  A very modern, clean, beautiful building houses very interesting exhibits on Kenyan wildlife, Kenyan traditions, archaeology, photography/painting, and a little exhibition about HIV sufferers.  It was all very interesting.

In the grounds, one can visit the “snake park”.  A little garden filled with reptiles, where all the most poisonous snakes of Kenya are displayed in big tanks (thank goodness).  Tortoises randomly wander around the centre of the garden – there’s a huge amount of them.  Much to my (childish) amusement, two tortoises started mating right in front of us.  I have NEVER seen anything so funny.  It was like something out of a comedy sketch… we were all crying with laughter.  Immature, I know.  The snakes were very interesting… as it turns out, the infamous BLACK MAMBA is not black at all.  What a disappointment.  It was named black mamba because it has a black tongue.  Slight feeling of anticlimax really.  It is actually a nondescript grey.

Our guide was really very knowledgeable.  Students guide tourists around the park, and I have to give credit to our guide who was an extremely clever and nice chap.  He was alarmingly cool about these deadly snakes though.  About spitting cobras – whose venom paralyses you or stops your heart – he said, “don’t worry if you get spat at, just wash your eyes with some water, it should work”.  Showing us a different snake, I asked him: “Is this snake deadly?” Answer: “Yes, but not so much”.  When we asked whether to run when we see a deadly snake, he said “No, just stand still – snakes don’t have too good eyesight”.

We headed home after the snakes, and it was with a slight sense of nervousness that I found my bus (please don’t blow up).  On getting to the door, an armed security guard scanned me with his little wand.  He then asked me, with an entirely straight face, “Are you Somalian?”  I couldn’t help myself but act sarcastic (I would probably have been arrested in the UK for this). “Yes, I am”, I told him, “How did you know??”  The man paused, looking at me.  He then steps aside to let me on the bus.  “I don’t think I believe you, I think you might be British”.  Kenya has clearly rolled out the big guns of security then.  Nothing gets past these guys.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: