Thursday, March 17, 2005

Lunch with Sir Clay

Sir Edward Clay was the guest at the Nairobi Central Business District Association (NCBDA) 1st quarterly luncheon of 2005. He first came to Nairobi in 1970, and is now the UK’s High Commissioner to Nairobi 30 years later. He’s been in the news a lot lately and the lunch was eagerly anticipated - following his crusade against corruption that makes a mockery of the government’s ‘war on corruption.’

He didn’t drop any bombs today, but he dismissed claims that Britain was losing business in Kenya. He said that Kenya’s economy was improving, despite the bureaucracy and corruption, and also encouraged everyone to read the just released, Commission for Africa Report as well as the government’s Economic Recovery Strategy that was released in 2003. And of course threw a few barbs at the government’s non-war on corruption.

About the lunch
- A week ago, I vowed to get organized especially around official events. I got my invitation card the morning of the luncheon, but when I arrived at the Stanley Hotel Ballroom at 12:30 sharp as indicated on the card, I found a very empty room.
- Basically, it still pays to be late in Nairobi: the chief Guest arrived at 12:35, the function/soup started at 12:55, dining room was full at 1:10, lunch was served at around 1:15 and the function ended as soon as Clay left at 2:15 p.m.
- No one wanted to miss Clay’s speech. After lunch, and while the NCBDA Chairman was speaking, half the room rushed to get dessert and so they could be comfortably seated by the time Clay started.
- To save time and get back to their offices, guests ‘shortened’ the plenary session from a planned 45 minutes to 3 minutes by not asking questions. Only one question was asked - a rambling jumbled question by ‘a freelance journalist’ who wondered if Europe was so pure that it’s Ambassador’s could not help but preach governance to poor Africans (even African Ambassadors don’t criticize their host African counties)
- We miro’s are still learning: At my table, we ate properly with knives and up-turned forks while odiero’s and chute’s used single forks and their hands to eat their chicken and lamb. Later we (miro’s) also up-turned our forks and used our hands to eat more comfortably.

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