PART 2:Backpacking to Kakuma: Kitale to Lodwar

PART 2:Backpacking to Kakuma: Kitale to Lodwar
Reading Time: 8 minutes

You wake up to the saddest news: Mowzey Radio, the one half of the Radio and Weasel duo is dead.

Often you confuse who is Radio and who is Weasel. And you stupidly hope it is not the one you are thinking (God forbid) who has died, but the WhatsApp screenshot confirms your worst fears.

You remember a time in New York when you were so lonely, and Bread and Butter used to console you on your train to Downtown Manhattan on your way to New Jersey after another heartbreaking day at school. You remember your future wife dancing to Magnetic, and how 27-30-year-old women could shake their asses to Magnetic when it came out.

You Remember while living in Juba, back in April 2012, staying in a lodging run by an Eritrean, they would play their music that was too jarring to the ear and it was always a good breather when they played some Ugandan music for a change. You remember how you used to fantasize with Jackie of Obsession after you watched her in those Tyra shorts in Kubera Woli (still your favourite Radio and Weasel collabo, even though so underrated.)

And now Radio is gone. Another mindless death occasioned by a brawny bouncer who engaged his muscle more than he engaged his brain. 

You leave the bed. It is around 9.30 a.m. You have clocked in roughly three hours. You fix yourself breakfast, thankfully, there is peanut butter to fix the bread. Man, whoever who discovered peanut butter. He made the world a better place…

You sit down to write a column and a pen a quick tribute to Mowzey Radio, before taking an afternoon Shuttle to Lodwar. Just as well, your host arrives with your ticket and old notes for change. So old are the notes that remind Kitale is farmers’ town. The host, the famous Griffins has to dash for a meeting and so he tells you where to leave the key. Your shuttle leaves at 2 p.m. You decide to do a tribute to the fallen musicians, take a shower and do the rest of writing in Kitale town, which is a walking distance or Sh 40 for a boda-boda.


At Kitale town, you go to the bus station to confirm the booking and they tell you, the vehicle won’t be full until 3.30 or thereabouts, so you decide to get busy. You walk around the dirty old market wondering why so small Kenyan towns look annoyingly the same with nothing remarkable or memorable. As you dodge boda-bodas, matatus, and the flow of people, you see a crowd cheering and jeering. Apparently, some street urchins have captured a snake and are walking around with it, as it writhes in pain and desperation. And that is about the most exciting thing you see in Kitale Town.

You walk down to Club Edge, where the previous week you ate supper as you listened to Madilu. You order for their beef-ugali as you fish your laptop and work on a column due that afternoon. 

At 3.30 p.m, you walk up to the station and the shuttle is still half full. You go into an adjacent hotel, order for a litre of water, and you keep yourself busy on the laptop.

At 4 p.m, you come out and the lady issuing receipts tells you that the matatu has to leave even though not full. Your friend didn’t factor your height, when he picked a seat in the middle and when people gather to take their seats, you try to negotiate for an exchange but all the strategic seats are either taken up with a family or by men you wouldn’t even bother to request. You try to fit into your seat, it is not that squeezed, but it is an eight-hour journey.

It was impossible to believe that life can be extinguished in one fatal throw like that.

Outside, there is a woman, looks 26. Or 27. Beautiful in a Nilotic sense. An erotic dash of melanin. She has a bandana on. She is donning a long, grey skirt that flatters her hips and quite some good ass that reminds of something. Her black T-shirt top reveals a bosom so full, so desirable. She is desirably tall. She is in a foul mood. Equally frustrated that the shuttle is two hours late. Thankfully, she will be a seatmate. And every man loves that.

A quarter past 4, the vehicle pulls out of the stage, heads to the petrol station, but nothing seems to be getting done. The driver pulls out of the petrol station and off we go. Exactly a week before this day, you were here to bury a father-in-law to your brother and the route is familiar, all the way to Kapenguria, even though you didn’t quite reach Kapenguria.

Roughly, an hour you pull into a Total petrol station where the driver fixes everything, pressure, fuel, and people dash out to buy some fluids. Kapenguria looks big. Back in 1952, Jomo and the six other guys were sent to coolers here by the British, and you hope one day to visit that prison.

Past Kapenguria, you venture into a land of so many hills, ridiculously big, beautifully round, and the population grows scarcer, save for the school children going to fetch water.

The rippling hills are a sight to behold and you flush your phone to snap at them. Villages in the evening have a quiet aura about them, with the blue hue that defines Africa in the dryer parts. 

The lady next to you, smiles.

“You first time these sides?”

“Yeah, never seen anything like this…” you eagerly tell her, happy that she has at least spoken to you.

The radio is playing some nice music from Milele FM, only interrupted by the idiotic betting ads. 

“Yeah, even me, I have barely used this road in a long while, I always fly…” she tells you.

“So you from Lodwar ?” You ask her.

“Yeaah.” She said.

“How far from here?”

“We will arrive around midnight. Thank God the road is slightly better, up to Lokichar. Used to be worse, but with the discovery of oil, they have started making the road,” she explained.

The road she was talking about was badly tarmacked, but better than what it used to be back in the day.

Meanwhile, the hills were rolling. Some spectacular. Some memorable. Your camera could not capture in the fast-moving vehicle.

“The Pokots are funny, they build houses up in the hill, like the one over there, do you see it?” she said with a measure of prejudice towards the Pokots, they are not the best of friends. 

You try to look but can’t quite see. 

And speaking of the Pokot, they are the ‘baddest’ warriors in Kenya and they terrify every warrior community in the Rift Valley. In fact in this journey, you have the down country prejudice towards the up-country that you may be attacked by bandits, which is not uncommon. 

Talking to the lady actually felt good. Her previously foul mood was gone, and she had a relaxed look about her, so mature and composed, even though worry wrought all over face. You could imagine seducing her and ending up in bed with her by end of the journey.

About her. She works for one of the 6669 NGOs that operate in Turkana. Went to Moi University for her Sociology degree. Finished in 2015. Now she was coming back from Maseno where she had gone to register for her Master’s in Sociology, distance learning.

She told you all these, without the expectation that you will tell her who you are. You didn’t tell her. On the radio, the presenters were paying a tribute to Radio who died earlier that day and you enjoyed every song they did. Bread and Butter. Nakudata. Nyumbani. Magnetic. Kiboko changu (with Amani). Where you were (with Blue 3). It was impossible to believe that life can be extinguished in one fatal throw like that. No singer is/was more talented, with a syrupy voice and charming, if simplistic lyrics like Radio.

You tried striking a conversation with the lady about Radio, but she barely knew him. Moments later, you arrived at the famous Kainuk bridge, which often overflows, cutting transport from Kitale to Lodwar.

“When the banks break, the vehicles get to this point from Kitale and those from Lodwar stand on the other shore and goods are exchanged by people walking inside the river with the commodities,” she explained.  You have probably seen photos of people being carried across the river. There is a famous one of a police reservist being carried by a civilian across the river. 

You actually want her to sleep on your laps, but there was a Nilotic decency to her that was just sexy, or is it admirable.

It is nearly 6.30 p.m. and the DJ, is presently playing  Miriam Makeba’ Aluta Continua. Man. One of the beauties of traveling in the countryside matatus is the chance to listen to a song you last heard in 2003. Like I heard Nonini’s Daniela. And nothing beats listening to the Queen of African music driving through the Rift Valley. 

As dusk settled, the evening getting balmier, your feet began to hurt and the lady sensing your distress, allowed you to put your legs diagonally against hers. So kind of her. She was your soul mate, as you did small talk.

“After Lokichar, about an hour away, it will get hotter and the road will become bumpier,” she warns you.

Soon, you pulled a stop at Lokichar and the driver decided to add more passengers to the empty seats and you stepped down and emptied your bladder on the African soil, in the middle of the road, the best way to connect with your ancestors. All along you were wondering why didn’t the Turkanas and Pokots, move to the South where the pastures were greener and they would never lack food.

After Lokichar, indeed, the road became bumpier as the tarmac ended and you entered a dusty road. And it became hotter as she promised. Half the time to Lodwar, the vehicle didn’t use the main road. It meandered around the main road, using alternative routes and the driver was very skillful, considering he had not been to the route in like ten years.

The Turkana queen was sleep and she found solace on your shoulder and man, were you thankful. She was so at home and felt so comfortable and you felt more heroic than Jomo did when he delivered the country from the meddlesome Brits.

When the road got so bumpy and she knocked on your shoulder and was profusely but needlessly sorry, you laughed it off and told her, it is perfectly fine. The gentleman on her left was not so impressed. You actually want her to sleep on your laps, but there was a Nilotic decency to her that was just sexy, or is it admirable.

On the floor you could see some small peeling of a condom wrapper, meaning someone had sex in the room as expected. It makes you slightly jealousy but you are too sleepy. You take some quick shower and sleep.

The next three hours were torturous. The moon, which was the guiding light looked intimidatingly big until it disappeared altogether to some clouds and it became pitch black. Along the way, you met a track that was carrying fish and had broken down and the guys were staring at the rotting fish and disappearing profits. 

Basically, there was no road. As the driver beat around the bushes, avoiding what was supposed to be the main road. You wondered what kind of compass he was using. He swerved, left, right, and in every direction.


At half-past eleven, there was some sign of hope. You know that feeling when you coming to Nairobi from Western Kenya and you reach the Great Wall? You like it, especially when your shuttle starts running over the small bumps, kudut! Kudut! Kudut!

You could sense Lodwa was not so so far. Further afield, you could see some flickers of light and you were running into some vehicles. It took you another 30 minutes to approach a certain Lodwar bridge that is only one-way. By now, people had started alighting.

In your mind, you were forming the final pitch to the lady. How do you take her number? You told her where you were going to sleep and she told you,

“That is where the vehicle will stop. The last stop…”

No room for more dialogue. You tried more small talk, but she was tired and exhausted. Just about the time, someone called her and from the responses, that someone was probably her husband who must have assured her that he was waiting for her at the final destination. 

And as the vehicle pulled off, indeed a Toyota G-Touring came and she packed her bags and the few groceries she had brought along the way, the onions and the mangos and off she went. You hope to meet her again.



Your friend Eric Achira had arranged a room for you and paid for it. So you arrive, went for some late-night supper, and you check into the lodging. It is a good room.

On the floor you could see some small peeling of a condom wrapper, meaning someone had sex in the room as expected. It makes you slightly jealousy but you are too sleepy. You take some quick shower and sleep.

Tomorrow, you have a date with destiny. 


Read Part 1 here 

Backpacking To Kakuma Refugee Camp: Nairobi-Kitale (Part 1)

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