the BIGGER picture


Just a glimspe. Susan's Perspective.

The New Girl In Town: Just Remember Everything Will Be SAWA

If you haven’t had a chance to read and be inspired by the incredible words that Michael Nigigi pens, take my word for it, check out his blog A Day In A Dog’s Life Michael asked me to contribute on his latest entry, so if you haven’t stumbled upon it yet, here it is.

Have you seen The Bigger Picture? Well it’s one of the blogs that have inspired me and given me pointers in writing my own. I am honored to know the owner of this blog and she happens to be a good friend. I have taken time to study her work especially in writing and photography. My conclusion? She is gifted. Meet Susan Wong, a Chinese Canadian who has travelled the world extensively. Wong is a traveller, writer, radio personality, photographer and fashion designer. When she told me she was on a flight on her way here, I didn’t waste the chance to request that she write me a blog note while on the plane. Today was her first day on radio (Capital Fm 98.4). She was good!

By Susan ‘Lucky’ Wong

My body ached and my head throbbed from exhaustion.  Coming up on 20 hours of travelling time, jetlag was definitely catching up to me.  As I flipped through my colourful Kenyan guidebook in a desperate last attempt to absorb as much information about my new home, the captain spoke over the intercom and informed us that we were descending into Nairobi, and moments later the flickering city lights welcomed us.

Mesmerized by the enchanting lights and the new adventures that awaited me, I reluctantly closed myguide book and put it away.  I realized that no amount of homework could really prepare me for my relocation to Nairobi.  I suppose the best preparation was to put aside all expectations and just humbly enjoy every moment, adventure and opportunity that crosses my path.  And with that mindset, I penned this journal entry to myself just before the plane touched down…

Dear Self,

Young Lady, you are no stranger to Africa, Kenya, Nairobi or the challenging task of relocation.  With that said, ignore those butterflies in your stomach; stop thinking about the ‘what ifs’ if you had made another choice; and tell your Mom’s chanting of “Nairobbery….” In your mind to hush!

Undoubtedly there will be a lot of challenges ahead.  You will face challenges that seem impossible to prevail.  You will meet people that will challenge who you are and the core of what you’re made of.  You can do this.  Remember that you’ve been blessed with this opportunity to follow your passion and perhaps answer a call.  There are amazing people that are waiting to support you.  Be bold. Just be you.

Don’t forget about the lessons you’ve learned in the past.  And yes, you’ve learned so much in Ethiopiafrom the past few years.  Take everything with a grain of salt.  Trust people until they give you a reason to not trust them.

Enjoy yourself and don’t forget to explore the diverse restaurants in town!

Don’t fret.  Chin up Girl because everything will just be Sawa.

Voice over the intercom: “Welcome to Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.  The temperature outside is 18 degrees and expect a light drizzle …. Thanks for choosing….and we hope you have enjoyed your flight.”


Filed under: Africa, Kenya, Life, Music, Photography, Thoughts, Travel, , , , , , , ,

The Truth is Often Stranger Than Fiction

Recently I was informed that a good friend of mine in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia had been thrown in jail for a crime that he did not commit. Allegedly, my friend was charged with vehicular homicide of a street boy. If you are not familiar with the Ethiopian justice system or the jail accommodations, let’s just say they are the epitome of “unforgiving”. From what I have been told, my friend was at a bar watching a football game on the other side of town during the time of the accident. Witnesses also have said that the car that hit the boy was a white Jeep whereas my friend drove a black truck, which had no dents or damage. Out of the 4-5 million people in Addis Ababa, the police only knocked on my friend’s door. Fishy might you ask?! Sounds like someone influential wants him out of the way if you ask me!

On another note, my former roomie has dedicated her career to working with causes that fight injustice throughout the world. After her post in Ethiopia, she continued to challenge herself and took up another one in Darfur, Sudan. She has recently returned home to the US after being held captive for 105 days.

As for myself, I’ve had similar experiences while working in Africa. No, I have not been kidnapped nor slept in an Ethiopian jail cell; instead I was stuck in the middle of 2 battling influential businesspersons – corporate warfare is a bitch and way more volatile in a country such as Ethiopia where things can just “happen” or people just “disappear”. Think about China 25 years ago. I was lucky to be able to move on unscathed.

I think it’s easy for others to criticize the choices that my friends and I have made. Some would even accuse us of bringing it upon ourselves and sabotaging our careers. Friend #1 is a respectable entrepreneur and engineer who chose to leave his career in Europe to return back to his roots in hopes of giving back to his people – literally “building” a future for the community. Friend #2 is not crazy for going to Darfur. Yes, that region may be plagued with conflict and violence; but it is because of people like Friend #2 that those places and people have not been forgotten by you and I.

We are not stupid nor naïve for believing in opportunities in Africa. We may run into brick walls here and there. And yes, bureaucracy still hinders many businesses and development projects on the Continent. However, opportunities also exist and they are tangible. We can all do our part to contribute to Africa’s continuing prosperity. As the impressive lone female African head of state, Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf likes to say, there are no poor countries, just rich countries that are poorly managed. Through ambition, hard work, determination, perseverance and sheer luck; it is possible for dreams to become reality.

Musician Judith Franklin reminded me of Shirley Horn’s “Here’s To Life” today. Shirley truly sang this song with every ounce of her soul and her lyrics…well, nothing less than inspiring. End result, absolutely stunning.

No complaints and no regrets.
I still believe in chasing dreams and placing bets.
But i have learned that all you give is all you get, so give it all you got.
I had my share, i drank my fill, and even though i’m satisfied i’m hungry still
To see what’s down another road, beyond a hill and do it all again.
So here’s to life and all the joy it brings.
Here’s to life the dreamers and their dreams.
Funny how the time just flies.
How love can turn from warm hellos to sad goodbyes
And leave you with the memories you’ve memorized
To keep your winters warm.
There’s no yes in yesterday.
And who knows what tomorrow brings or takes away.
As long as i’m still in the game i want to play
For laughs, for life, for love.
So here’s to life and all the joy it brings.
Here’s to life, the dreamers and their dreams.
May all your storms be weathered,
And all that’s good get better.
Here’s to life, here’s to love, here’s to you.
May all your storms be weathered,
And all that’s good get better.
Here’s to life, here’s to love, here’s to you.

Filed under: Africa, Ethiopia, Life, Music, Photography, Sudan, Thoughts, Travel, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Through My Eyes


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