During the day, we scramble up kopjes, burnished bronze-hued outcroppings that rise imperfectly across the African landscape and add to the bush’s distinct otherworldliness. Normally, you drive beside the kopjes or stop in their shade for a break from the burning sun. This time, we leave the car behind. Winston and Denis tote picnic baskets, and we clamber up a crevice in the rock.
At last we stand high above the landscape, a patchwork of emerald and black stones below, the volcanic mountains just beyond. On a flat place, we dance around on the kopje and peer at some baboons, who stare back. We’ve offended them by invading their secret spot. As always, besides the three of us, there’s not another human being in sight. And once the apes leap across an impractical gap to another kopje to claim new territory, we are truly alone. We humans play, finding a smaller, rounded kopje that balances impossibly, as if stacked by supernatural beings. Frivolously, we take photos of each other pretending to push the rock, its location near the edge creating the illusion that we are actually moving it. Later, we settle onto an unfurled blanket. I sip from my silver chalice and chat with the Micato team; the baboons howl. When the sun finally starts to plummet, we all become silent, as a prelude for what’s to come. When it disappears below crimson ribbons, we cheer. The baboons have long gone.
Back in Nairobi, sorry to leave Africa and missing it already, I think of Ernest Hemingway’s words in Green Hills of Africa: “All I wanted to do was get back to Africa. We had not left it, yet, but when I would wake in the night I would lie, listening, homesick for it already.”
Lucky for me, Micato, the masters of the unexpected extra, has something in store that’s better than any sunset: a visit to Harambee Centre, the community facility in the crowded Mukuru slum.