Monday, January 17, 2011

Short Xmas trip that changed how I feel about Maputo

I took unexpected and last minute 10-day holiday on Xmas eve to Nairobi to spend it with a dear friend I haven't seen in years. I swore few years back that I won't set foot on Kenyan soil again after couple of bad experiences with thugs and corrupt police officers. My previous trip there was in December 2004 and I spent most of the week in a hotel, couldn't be bothered venturing into the city. My disappointment started at the airport when I was picked out of the queue by an immigration officer, I assumed it was coz he recognised I was a Somali. I asked what I had done wrong and he said he just wanted to ask few questions. After few minutes of silly questions and terrorising the content of my bags, he discovered no reason to keep me in the room. I was fuming with anger at the thought that Kenyan authorities still treated Somalis as criminals.

So, I went on this trip in December 2010 looking forward to seeing my friend but dreading the thought of revisiting Nairoberry. However, a pleasant surprise started at the airport. I found a Kenyan-Somali immigration officer at the airport, for once there was a Somali on the other side of the fence. Also, I didn't get picked from the line this time and I got a visa in 5 minutes! So far so good. I took a taxi to my friend's flat and was amazed by how clean the city seemed, at least the trip from the Jomo Kenyatta Airport and my friend's flat.

The pleasant surprise continued for the duration of my stay, I found Nairobi has changed radically and for the better. There were lots of new bars, restaurants and places to hangout. A city with vibrant social life and I met few friends I knew in London who have all moved back to start a new life in Kenya, very exciting!

Then we went to Mombasa for the new year and met more dynamic young Africans, and what a city! I think I chose the right place to be born, that is for sure.

So, after all the people I met, hearing everyone around me speak English, all the projects and business ideas everyone is planning, I was so inspired and something in me realised that maybe, just maybe, I was subconsciously missing something in Maputo! A city with limited opportunities and an uphill struggle to achieve the smallest of goals. After that short trip, I got back to Maputo to find it impossible to get back to my old rhythm. I lost the magic, maybe left it on the plane, I had for this city and my first reaction soon as I got off the plane was: Shit, I don't want to be here anymore!!! It is a sudden and shocking revelation and I had no idea where it came from.

I got back to the studio the same day to do a show and did not enjoy it at all! Remember that I only started this radio job 3.5 months ago! Yeah, things in my little planet change real fast. So, I had a chat with my boss and informed him that I was not really happy at work and I wanted to make some changes if I were to stay on. For starters, I was not enjoying co-presenting the breakfast show with him, our styles are radically different and the listener can hear when co-presenters are not jelling. I also felt co-presenting with my (much older) boss and the station owner limited the space for me to develop my own style. His age would not be an issue if it didn't highlight our radically different approaches to presenting and music taste.

I already know what is coming and have known it for a while. It was an amazing opportunity to work in the first and only English radio station in Maputo but this particular radio station is not for me!

So, end of the road again for both radio and Maputo, for now. I think I have had so much fun banging my head against the wall in this city trying all sorts of things, from enterprise, to bank work and now radio DJing. Time to give another African city a try.

Next stop: Johannesburg!