We are at the end of another year, and as I grow older these years seem to fly by.
But oh what a year it has been for The Emakoko – for the first time in the lodge’s lifetime, we have finally got our heads above water. Perhaps it is the COVID lag with the rush to travel, or perhaps the first world has finally begun to understand that life is precious and short – so live it.
On the downside, globally this has been a very difficult year, the war in Ukraine is continuing and the world is diving into a deep recession that is affecting millions. COVID continues to ravage communities and in particular China, appears to be battling the most.
At home, we have suffered immeasurable loss. In conservation we have lost some of the country’s greats; Richard Leakey and Charles Njonjo, Colin Church & Mark Jenkins – four of Kenyas most prominent conservationists. Added to this – Mwai Kibaki – Kenya’s third president. All these men were remarkable men who were passionate, dedicated and devoted so much of their lives to their country.
Internationally football says goodbye to not just a footballer but a cultural and social phenomenon Pele. This year will too be the year that we said goodbye to one of the longest serving sovereigns, having been queen for 70 years and 214 days – Queen Elizabeth.
I happened to have travelled to the UK in late August and we stayed in Windsor, each morning I would run the Long mile (by the way, the most beautiful run in the world) one way the run is to the copper statue of George 3rd……sadly not one of the greats, famous for losing the American colonies and his mind (but that is another story) and the other way is running back towards Windsor castle. I have done this run now 43 times in my lifetime and I get lost in imagining on how little has changed over 952 years in that 2.6 mile stretch. You can almost picture the Henrys, James and Georges who would have once galloped that final stretch ‘home’, it truly is remarkable that not much has changed.
Many times I have run towards the castle and the flag has not been up, but three days into our stay in Windsor I was delighted to see that the Queen was home. Her stay was to be short-lived and two days later, after the August bank holiday, she made her final journey to Balmoral and then she was gone, leaving a an enormous hole in our great monarchy and also in our hearts.
For any of you who know Anthony, he is notoriously clumsy and has crashed his way through life breaking many a things and injuring a few people (I was recently severely injured by Anthony but that is another story which I shall write about once I have forgiven him). When he was at Manchester Met he was in the officer training core (OTC) and information came through that her Majesty was to visit the barracks (Circa. 1994). The OTC were in a flurry of excitement, as anyone would be, and it was decided by someone of power that under no circumstances were they to have anyone with an accent other than the Queens English speaking to her and the Duke of Edinburgh. After much scrutiny of the soldiers, Anthony was hand picked to do the job, however there was debate as to his ‘bull in a china shop’ demeanour may be a threat to the monarchy……..The officer in charge decided with the rules in place to ‘keep your distance’ that there was no apparent threat to the monarchy.
The security team must have got wind of Anthony’s antics and decided lat minute that it would be better to have Anthony show the prince around and not the queen, she would be kept at a distance. The Prince Asked Anthony ‘Why have you joined the OTC”, he must have been expecting a response of to ‘Serve my queen and country’ – but instead the Prince was told that ‘I joined the OTC for beer money’………….The prince was so taken back but found this comment hysterical and fell about laughing at Anthony’s honesty.
Speaking of Kingdoms closer to home – our furry friends are also battling it out. In the middle of the year we saw the end of the great Sirikoi who had to be destroyed having shattered his jaw in an enclosure trying to get out of the cage when he was taken to have an injury fixed. He was the son of the great Mohawk and they were two of the great lions of this park who seemed to have ruled the area since the early 2000’s.
As of 2022 we have six large male lions that are more often than not walking through the park using the road networks, they do not move off the road for anyone and many videos posted of people driving past them – not that unusual generally but very common in the national park. These are the big boys and the bad boys.
For the #Metoo movement out there – you will be pleased to know that this is a ‘matriarchal population’ and it seems that girls rule here in the city. Although Mpakasi and Kitili are the top of the food chain, they have met their match with our girls Solo and Nala, for anyone who follows the Nairobi Park feed, you can keep track of our fearsome females there. One of the boys decided not so long ago that he would approach the girls and see if he would get lucky. For those observing, it was similar to what the 1980’s night clubs were like, where ladies danced around their handbags and every now and again the opposite sex would break up the circle and ‘get in’. For our beautiful male, he did break into the circle but was promptly beaten up, bitten and spat back out onto a dusty road in front of his mate…….if lions could roll around with laughter I think his mate did. Needless to say, they both scampered off to the water hole!
This year has been particularly dry for East Africa, for us we seem to be in a rain shadow and the November rains have evaded us completely. In fact Nairobi National Park is the driest I have ever seen it and there is immense suffering from not only the wildlife but also now the livestock which have literally run out of food. I have never seen the landscape so desolate, with reports of rain all around us I can only hope that we will be having a wet start to the new year.
I have spoken to many people in the industry and this seems to be one of the best years of all time for many. We can certainly say 2022 has been just that and we are so grateful to our many guests, some of you come back over and over again. But also, we are so grateful to our team, without whom The Emakoko would simply be just a hotel. Our team bring soul to the buildings and make The Emakoko sing.
With regards to the four legged member of the team Of course, we cannot fail to mention them. Carlos / Carolina – those of you who have visited know who they are, they have performed every night this year without fail. There continues to be a ‘battle of the biscuits’ between our Bush Babies and our Genets almost every night, and during the day our roses have to be defended against the never-ending attack of the Hyrax army. Nothing ever changes there.
On the lodge side – We have managed to complete a full refurbishment of our ten rooms and will start on the private house and the main areas early in the new year. We hope too, that the lovely Rose Lloyd Owen will be coming back to work with our kitchen before May. On the ‘green side’ of things, we made a pledge (or our daughter did) to plant 1000 trees this year. Not only did she plant 1000 trees, but she collected, germinated, planted and distributed over 1800 more by the end of this year. Amazing to see the idea grow and flourish!
So that is all from us at The Emakoko for 2022 – We look forward with enormous positivity and hope that next year will be as good, if not better. We also look forward to seeing our guests come back again and also to meeting new ones!
So to all of you, we wish you a wonderful, happy, healthy and enormously successful 2023.