I hurriedly lock the house, making a dash seconds later to the agreed rendezvous, obviously am not a morning person, I sigh. No sooner I arrive than my ever speeding boss pulls over. We join Nanyuki – Meru highway cruising at over 100kph, he is constantly on phone finalizing on logistics and racing against time. Destination Turaco Farm, an export horticultural firm, the starting point venue of Day 2 rally.
This was two weeks ago, when Mt Kenya region had honours of hosting the seventh round of this year’s FIA African Rally championship, the 62nd KCB Rally held at the picturesque, humongous farm fields, combined with alluring grazing wildlife. Nanyuki was the nerve center and being a relatively slow town, was awoken with buzzing sounds on this long weekend. Excitement from the deafening exhausters was evident from all and sundry. Batian view which overlooks the iconic Mt.Kenya, about 2 kilometers from Nanyuki town, serves as a spectators’ site as well as the award ceremony venue, was filled to capacity. It is one place that brings together the paupers, middle class and the very affluent to mingle freely together. Music, beer, stylish ladies, youngsters documenting every unfolding via I-pads and smartphones; and mad fun were all in galore, dramas notwithstanding. Not even the light showers could dampen the spirits. Kids danced their hearts out at the sheer close glance of helicopters. Meanwhile catfights from visibly drank ladies over a not so bothered chap caused a stir to many who had thronged the event. On other typical days, Batian works as a deserted, valley endowed grassland for the local inhabitants.
A day would commence by setting up tents which ordinarily is not a cup of tea for everybody. We had to learn the whims pretty fast though. My colleagues who were all ladies in fact did more technical work of putting together the timing system; I found that to be incredible. It’s during the long breaks that we were to prepare lunch. We had to light a jiko, funny enough, a few young men from the private farms assembled by to offer help if need be, shied away from preparing nyama choma. I found it weird and hence had to take the challenge under the watchful eyes of the ladies. Nobody complained afterwards, so I assume my job was above board, thanks to the pragmatic ‘tutorials’ my late dad inculcated in me, early in life.
Arguably Laikipia is the second county after Lamu endowed with many vast ranches. Unlike previously when rally cars would transverse through village roads and occasionally get distracted by oncoming traffic along the highways, this time round things were different. Much of the competition took place in private ranches with controlled spectators’ sites and closed roads, which ostensibly is what the rally fraternity has been agitating for. The World Rally Championship emphasizes of these preparations for Kenya to get the green light of hosting the global circuit again. While flagging off the cars at KICC, President Uhuru Kenyatta said his government would work towards ensuring that the Safari Rally returns to its prestigious status of the old days.
As life becomes more expensive due to soaring inflation and what have you, further worsened by lots of negative stories happening across the country, it’s very fulfilling when one takes a break to savor what is there in life to celebrate about. It’s on this note, that my boss who is a well-connected guy, at least in this town, who also happened to be one of the organizers, invited a couple of my colleagues and I to be part of the ’junior officials’ in this well attended event. Speaking of the organizers, they work more or less like a cartel; drive well-oiled machines, are deep pocketed and seem to be what I would term as the crème of Laikipia County. Members cut across all races; majority being white settlers in Kenya, Asians and a few natives (read Africans).
Motor enthusiasts had a field day cheering their favourite drivers for the three days. Cut throat competition was witnessed between Carl Tundo and Baldev Chager where the latter would emerge as the overall winner. Veteran driver Ian Duncan a big gun in this spot dropped from the race on day 2, making it a big blow to his fans. Mitsubishi Evox was the common car outpacing the popular Subaru machines, perhaps for its powerful engine. Some teams seemed more prepared than others as some were more friendly and courteous than others. At the end of the day, I got to learn a skill or two, laughed my heart out, met old friends as I made new ones; which is all that is needed for all rounded self-growth.