They might be few in number, but members of the Guyanese community in Nairobi, the
capital city of this East African country – Kenya – assembled at the Sugarcane Restaurant, a Caribbean food restaurant, incidentally owned and operated by a Guyanese, to partake in an indigenous Guyanese dinner in celebration of Mashramani Day on Tuesday.
Led by the Guyanese Community’s matriarch in Kenya, Mrs Yvonne Muli, who first came to Kenya in the Year of the Floods (1961), there were the consummate Chief Executive Officer of arguably Africa’s most successful mobile phone company – Safaricom, Mr Bob Collymore; and first generation Guyanese-Kenyans, Court of Appeal Judge the Hon Justice Agnes Murgor, and topflight lawyer Mr Cecil G. Miller.
The star of the evening, and the person who made it happen, was Ms Kathleen Creavalle a Guyanese who first went to Kenya as a UN worker in 2002, fell in love with the country and in 2007 married one of its sons, Mr Chris Getonga. For the Mashramani evening she was draped in a shawl top that displayed Guyanese flag colours.
As the director of Sugarcane Caribbean Food, she attributes most of her success to her Kenyan husband. The restaurant is situated in the upscale Garden City Mall on Exit 7 off Thika Road Superhighway in Nairobi. It has been open two months now, and among those who would have patronised it in the short time it has been in existence is the country’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta and the First Family.
The Guyanese and their friends assembled at the Sugarcane Restaurant at 7 p.m. Kenya time, (which was noon in Guyana). A large Guyanese flag was on display. The guests were treated to a cocktail of cassava puffs, salt fish cakes and pholourie, to the background of calypso music.
Ms Creavalle explained that as a member of the Guyanese Diaspora who has lived outside of Guyana for more than 30 year, “Opening this restaurant has connected me to all my Guyanese roots, the culture and the food.”
Mr Kenneth McLean, who has been in Kenya for two years working for AMREF Health Africa, introduced the Guyanese menu, more so to their non-Guyanese friends who had come to support them. The guests were then led to dinner by Mrs Muli and Ms Creavalle as they swayed to the beat of Guyanese folk music for the buffet dinner of mixed vegetable salad, cook-up rice, metem, chicken curry and roti and puri, pepper pot, and plantains.
Story telling is very much part of the Guyanese culture. Living on Mother Continent was no exception by the Guyanese. Opening the bat was Guyanese Community’s matriarch in Kenya, Mrs Yvonne Muli who explained that Guyana was a country made up three counties, terming it the land of sugarcane and many waters.
“We are not very many and when you see a Guyanese anywhere, you feel very good; you want to make yourself known to them,” said Mrs Muli, whose Kenyan husband, the late Matthew Guy Muli, was a Judge and later Kenya’s Attorney General.
She was at one time a Director of the country’s national carrier, Kenya Airways – The Pride of Africa.
Mrs Muli was accompanied by her daughter, Justice Agnes Murgor, who is a judge of the Court of Appeal in Kenya, and son-in-law and prominent Kenyan lawyer, Phillip Murgor. In a separate interview she explained that her husband was instrumental in bringing a Guyanese lawyer, the late Cecil Miller who became Kenya’s Chief Justice.
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