March 19, 2017 Staff Login

Jason’s Journey

Our Creative Director Jason Harris sends us a journal entry. 

I am here in Chuka, a county in central Kenya on the east slopes of Mt. Kenya. This is a snippet of a journal I am keeping about this trip…..

I don’t know if the locals here in Chuka refer to Mt. Kenya as a Woman or a Man. What it is first and foremost is a mountain, a broad titan that spreads across the vista with its peak shrouded most of the day in towering cumulus puffs, like a grandparent with secrets; after circumnavigating it for several hours, I took to referring to the mountain in my head as ‘the great unknowable ‘. I would imagine that on some satellite photos, the topography of the mountain changes daily…based on the mountains whims, not anything within the realm of human explanation. Yet at the same time, it is clearly benevolent to those who live in its shadow, as there are countless farms yielding every manner of bounty on its verdant foothills.

The most absurd fiction peddled to our imagination is that Africa is this vast land of animals bereft of people. I cannot imagine the falsehood laid bare anywhere more strongly than in Kenya, a place sold to the white world as a giant safari park that happens to have a city (Nairobi) on the edge of the park. Kenya is a nation of Black People, with a colonial residue as only could be rendered by the insufferable British. There are Indians, as well as evidence of the Chinese incursion; a whole swath of buildings on the route from Jomo Kenyatta airport sport Kanji phrases and names. 

Kenyans dominate the scenery. They are beautiful peoples. I saw a dude transporting a dresser on the back of a motorcycle. I saw multiple dudes pulling carts, loaded down with hundreds of pounds of building materials. I saw countless Women trudging with bags, shovels, sticks, babies, or life in general arrayed in various manner on their backs. I saw septuagenarians riding bikes up and through the foothills of Mt, Kenya, some inclines steep enough that cars were straining. 

In Baltimore, we share the stoop; in Kenya, we share the shade. Scene after scene of folks sitting on the ground, clustered inside the forgiving shadow of a tree or bush. Cattle being herded on the side of the highway by men. Lean soldiers in their smart green uniforms walking cool and proud, long ass machine gun dangling at their sides. Men carving furniture, tinkering with Motorbikes; Women cutting trees, everyone hawking water at various towns in the middle of the street. Highways where traffic slows because of people crossing. Alive and getting it….one way or another. 

I love and miss most of you, and I am trying my best to represent our best.     
P.S. – I am never ever ever ever buying a mango from Safeway ever again.