This letter is a continuation of sharing the story about our house we nicknamed “The Fortress”.
Before I dive into this part of the story I must give a brief history to help you somewhat understand why things are as they are. I am continuing to learn about the culture of Africa myself so this explanation is brief and simplistic.
Most of Africa has been privatized. What that means is it that instead of paying tax to the government (which the people we have talked to feel is corrupt) to provide services to all, individuals pay the manager of the service as if he owns it. Also, there are many laws but no consistency to when or how they are enforced; some of the laws are enforced one day and then not the next.
How this is dealt with in everyday life is seen differently given the situation. However, when it comes to the Kenyan who happens to live in a home as nice as ours there are multiple safety measures put into place to protect it and safeguard the people living inside. Instead of paying taxes for police to protect their homes and neighborhoods they try to find trustworthy people who they can pay to be security guards. These security guards provide around the clock protection. Then, they build their homes with many gates, doors and locks with the goal of keeping people who intend to harm or cause destructive out. Hopefully, this explanation helps clarify why “The Fortress” has the set up it does.
Our estate is enclosed with a 12 foot wall. This wall is constructed haphazardly with cement and brick that is topped off with either barb wire or cut glass. To enter the estate we must pass through a gate with a security guard (see picture at the top). With comings and goings we do not need to show the security guard any identification other then our smiling face. Initially, we were introduced by our AIM host to a couple of the guards. Now when we enter the gate we just wave and smile. The house we are staying in is located about the length of a football field from this entrance gate.
Each home in the estate has a 12 foot driveway that stops at a gate. There are a variety of gates throughout the estate but you see that our driveway stops at a 10 foot steel locked one.
On the other side of this gate is a small cement yard where the car is parked along with an outdoor table, two chairs and a couple of plants.
After a brief walk of 6-7 steps through this area there is the actual front door. At this door the multilayer experience continues before we can actually step foot inside the house. First there is a rod iron gate with a pad lock. Once we are inside that gate there is another wood door that is dead bolted and requires yet another key. With this final door and lock we are officially inside the house. Whew!
However, the locks, doors and iron gates do not stop with the front entrance. The tiny yard in the back that is enclosed by a 10 foot cement wall topped with barb wire requires another locking and unlocking experience. First, we need to unlock the pad lock on the rod iron door that opens to the enclosed porch, walk across this porch to yet another locked door. And, there is an additional key that unlocks the shed in the yard. Also, at the top of the stairs to the second floor there is a steel door that we lock each night before going to bed.
Now after a week of locking and unlocking “The Fortress” keys and locks are starting to become a part of life here. It takes an additional 5 minutes to leave the house and then to reenter it. Heaven for bid we forgot something and have to start the whole process over. I do want to add we feel safe in our home. These safety measures are all part of living here in Nairobi.
These are the keys used to enter the front gate, the front doors, the back doors, the shed in the back yard and the steel door at the top of the second floor stairs.
“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord. “He is my refuge and my
my God, in whom I trust.”
Until next letter stay safe as you move about your home, city, state and country.