NANYUKI, October 14 – “Hey, want to try someplace new?” my sister asked on Saturday before whisking me away to a very white and wooden establishment skirting one of the edges of Nanyuki town.
I hadn’t been to Nanyuki for a while and was looking for new places to do and more action to see!
We took a right turn off the Nanyuki-Meru road just a few hundred metres from Nanyuki town, and after snaking through idle bush-land for about one minute, we met up with the sign ‘Kongoni’ pointing left, ushering you into… lots of trees!
Its hard to see the place from the tiny parking lot cut out on the side, but up the brief pathway you stumble onto it all at once – a barn-like structure that you’d expect someone to throw some hay off the top of.
It was a cool evening and so we headed straight into the box-like structure, ignoring the thatch-roof tables and benches spaced on the compound outside. Even though there was a fire-place outside, the bar straight ahead was well lit and as it drew me in, I turned around to see an array of paintings that looked… real.
I kid you not! Kongoni’s owner Edwin Anderson explained to me that the near-breathing heavy stroke paintings were developed by a friend of his from the UK using real photographs, but with an imaginative twist that splayed in the dramatic colours he uses.
I was proud to recognise most of them; Marvin Gaye, Prince, Bob Marley, Mohammed Ali, The Beatles, Michael Jackson… I guess ‘Mr Anderson’ should have had pictures of ‘The Matrix’ somewhere in the vicinity but he instead settled for the old classic ‘Pulp Fiction’, and mainly Mr John Travolta and Mr Samuel L Jackson.
I was ready for some food. And honouring the fact that my clansmen believe God made it rain chicken in Bungoma when he created them, I asked for a grill of the same with some fresh salad and potato wedges to go with it.
The same God who reigns over Bungoma was in Nanyuki that day too!
I can still remember the way that chicken tasted, and how crunchy and juicy the salad was. “We grow our own vegetables here. We even rear chicken, ducks, geese, turkey and rabbit. Just for the customers,” said Mr Anderson – the soul brother – with a cheeky smile.
Sh130 bought me a Smirnoff Ice red and my sister had one too, and needless to say we left the place late. My magnificent mind had by that time accumulated a lot of information; including that somewhere among the many trees was a camping spot furnished with hot showers close by and five quaint cottages where each resident would have to cough up Sh2,500 to spend the night and eat breakfast. Camping is Sh500.
Near the five cottages is a slightly bigger one which Mr Anderson tells me is his humble abode. The 50-something father of two said to me, “I was born in Nanyuki. I moved to the UK several years ago and was running a restaurant in Camden, London for 12 years. I was ready to come back home.”
I agree, about the home part. Home is where the chicken is.