The Professional Face of Africa

Nairobi as seen from the offices of Google

This is not the Africa I expected. I am ashamed  of the assumptions I came here with. I was expecting to find a continent, a country, languishing with its hand held out for help. The people here need some assistance – there’s no doubt about that. But, to paraphrase the song, “Africans are doing it for themselves.”

There are enormous challenges, to be sure. Overwhelming challenges. But Kenya today is bursting with talent. From the office towers of Nairobi to a cramped office in Machacos town to a circle of AIDS widows in an isolated village, I’ve met stunningly smart, professional and capable people. (I would love to poach some of them!)

To a person, the people I’ve met this last week are lucid about the issues facing Africa in general, and Kenya in particular. And, they’ve got a fair idea what they need to meet their challenges – if they can just find a place to get their foot on the ladder.

To hear a group of AIDS widows in a village 5 hours from Nairobi use words like capacity building, empowerment, sustainability and ownership to describe what they are doing in their community opens my eyes to what is possible here.

Tomorrow I hope to be able to tell you more about what women in the poorest villages imaginable are doing to help support the orphans left behind by AIDS. And how little healthcare information there is in their language to help them.