Nairobi: Something Great is Coming About

Diary of a very special week in Kenya

Nairobi: Something Great is Coming About

by Giampietro Parolin

110711_Nairobi_Cuea04Unexpectedly, the year 2011 offers me two trips to Africa. The first, in January with the announcement of the EoC in this great continent, is a total discovery. Now it returns with new challenges. The short course at CUEA (Catholic University of Eastern Africa) is the result of an agreement done only a few months ago. Its realization projects that desired future in the real present.

The trip, after the first flight from Venice to Rome, presents an unexpected cancellation on the morning flight to Nairobi. I have to wait until evening for the new flight. In peace, I accept this change of program considering the much more uncomfortable trips of students who will come from some remote corner of Africa.

The first step is at Mariapoli Piero, the little city of culture of giving, about 40 km. from Nairobi. In the middle of the night, the driver, to whom I could hardly speak because of the tiredness and sleepiness, brings me there! I arrive at 4:30 in the morning and rest until 9.

At half past nine I share my professional experience with a group of professionals from the outskirts of Nairobi and some students who came110711_Nairobi_Cuea02 from other parts of Africa who also came to attend the course at CUEA. Sharing experiences and exciting facts, I discovered the red thread that bound every moment of my life up to now. I thank God for all these enriching opportunities of meeting people, cultures, countries.

Sunday night we are in the city. The sense of family is strong and I really feel at home. The mosquito net of the bed has now become part of the normal way to sleep! So the big day arrives. Monday morning we are at the university where the course on Social Accounting and EoC starts. There was a very warm welcome from everyone. Charles Besigie, the local tutor, guides us Africa with wisdom (that of relationships) in the diverse world of CUEA. The rector, Dr. John Maviiri and the Dean of Economy, Dr. Aloys Ayako, to bring their welcome and encouragement for the new adventure.

The class of brave explorers is made up of fifteen students from four African countries (Kenya, Rwanda, Cameroon and Burundi). They are joined by Professor Betty Njagi from the faculty of economics, who is very interested in the course. The class alternates between moments of lectures with group work centered on business activity. It is encouraging to see how much each one is giving everything in this course: the French-speaking group of Burundi chooses to mix with others and the mutual support is evident among all so as to fully understand many new concepts.

110711_Nairobi_Cuea01Day after day the experience grows. The dialogue continues outside the classroom with students and professors during coffee breaks or meal times. The interest in the EoC and its cultural roots are very deep. The afternoons are time for rest (with some intense jogging at 1800 m above sea level!) and further discoveries. One of the students of the course, Michael Owino, a Kenyan born near Lake Victoria, accompanied me to the Nairobi National Museum. And so with him I retrace part of the history of his people (the Luo tribe, one of Kenya's forty-two). I think of how important it is today to face the challenge of keeping together our local identities with the need and the beauty of the world united.

Thursday night, a big party in town with the students, teachers and friends. I am greatly moved with the exchanging of gifts… and we experience many forms of communion! My course ends Friday morning to pass the baton to Giuseppe Argiolas who is about to leave from Italy. The students are very happy and satisfied and... also the professor! We are already planning projects for the future. A week in Africa so short and so dense, spectators of something greater that is to come about.

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