My 8 day stay in the Nordic, you can as well call it Scandinavia or simply Norway officially begun. I have in the past been blasted and chided by friends over my obsession for bread especially in the place of a good meal say Ugali, Rice and the likes ,had they known bread is actually served on dinner tables in Norway, they (you) would be glad that I have been rehearsing for this particular period. So yes I was going to have a lot of bread for my entire stay not for breakfast as is common back home but for a main meal, surprising isn’t it? In fact my Kenyan compatriots ganged up with Ugandans and Tanzanians to whine about it.
Our first day to the last day of our official engagements was very insightful and interesting. It was such a humbling experience interacting with people of different races, colour, nationalities, sometimes trying to learn bits of the different languages and even attempting to communicate with some who couldn’t even utter a word in a language that I understand most. They helped me get a glimpse of their countries, I got to know a little about Nepal, Bangladesh (and particularly a participant from this country and her struggles with time difference and the effects on her sleeping patterns), Zambia, South Africa, Madagascar (their difficult-to pronounce long names), Brazil, Colombia (obrigada) among others. We would step out during breaks over tea or lunch to bask on the dodgy cold sunshine, we would take a lot of pictures, sometimes we would try and go near the shores of the frozen Lake but it gets extremely cold as you get close to the Lake, you can actually literally freeze. In the evening we went out for team building activities, walked on snow trails, sometimes we would deep ourselves in the Jacuzzi or flex our hands and legs a little bit in the indoor warmed swimming pool.
I love how precise and accurate weather forecast is done in Norway. So one evening someone announced that it was going to snow the following day. I quickly went online to confirm that and indeed it began snowing as it was forecasted. I was really fascinated to behold the sparkling white fragments (they call that snow) falling from above like rain and slowly filling up the ground and into layers and layers and layers and others landing on trees and mountain tops. That’s when I really got to grasp the analogy of snow that God refers to when he talks about cleansing us from sin. Within no time the entire area turns white and sometimes greyish from the firmament to the ground. Again I got to appreciate the aesthetic value that the blue sky adds to our earth, the earth really appears ugly without the blue cover over our heads. You get the feeling that the entire heaven has spread a blanket over the entire earth and locked all exist routes above and below.
After a 2 day stay in remote Hurdall on the shores of the frozen lake, time had now come for us to take a road trip to the city of Oslo for a day’s long young leaders’ conference at Vulkan Arena on the outskirts of Oslo City centre. We got to a cold Oslo about an hour or so later right on time for the conference. We met a host of other young people from across the world that had come for the conference dubbed ‘breaking barriers’. The conference was very insightful, amongst the most well organized conferences I have ever attended-well managed time (Norwegian time, In Norway time is of essence, every second counts) the incredibly seamless manoeuvres and transitions between sessions, good lighting and sound. I got a front row seat very strategic spot for my photography. Natalie Becker a former South African Actress who has appeared and starred in several movies and films was in the house as the moderator for the conference. I had read about her in magazines way back in the days and now she was a few steps from where I am seated. Laila Bokhari State Secretary MFA was also in the house, she has Pakistani roots. Young people from across the world including refugees from Syria shared th
eir experiences on how they have been able to break various barriers from racial, geographical, religious barriers among others to cause an impact in their societies.
It was lovely getting to bump into other Kenyans on the side-lines of the conference Tanzanians as well some of whom reside in Oslo. It’s such an exciting feeling when you get to meet your homies out there in the foreign land. At the end of the conference all of us were charged and ready to venture out there to cause change.
Owing to our very tight schedule, we were not able to explore Oslo beyond the precincts of Vulkan. Our host Tom and about 5 of my colleagues from Brazil, Tanzania, SA, Bangladesh and Madagascar were scheduled for another meeting for the remaining three days miles away from Oslo. We then quickly got into a taxi operated by a gentleman of Asian descent to Gardermoen an hour or so away from Oslo (It’s interesting that the airport is that far away from the city centre, compared to JKIA which is about 20mins from the CBD). Our able driver got us to the airport for our Scandinavian Airlines operat
ed -SAS flight to the West Coast city of Aalesund and thereafter to the port town of Ulsteinvik, home to some of the wealthiest folks in Norway.
I will tell you more about my venture deep into Norway and the feeling of being not so far from the top most and coldest part of the universe, the North Pole in my next episode…..