Author Archives: Joy Owango

The Nomadic Urban Swara-KENYA – The (in)famous Ngongathon

NGONGLadies and Gentlemen, this is your Captain speaking. We are approaching Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, it is a beautiful morning with clear skies and temperatures of about 28 degrees and if you look through your windows, you will see the beautiful undulating, Ngong Hills, which , means ‘knuckles’ in Maasai.

This is the soothing Disneyfied sound of every Kenya Airways captain as you land in Nairobi.

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The Nomadic Urban Swara-ZANZIBAR

ZNZ 1The East African coast, and I say this with confidence from Mogadishu (oh yeah, I was told I looked very ‘womanly or really feminine and grown up …., when I was wearing a niqab’, it is one of those statements you hear from men and you wonder, where on earth did you get that from… anyway A for effort!) to Maputo has in common…. Beach boys! For reference, I was given stony silence on attempting to run on the Mogadishu coast so I took a walk (http://urbanswaras.co.ke/running-tales/the-nomadic-urban-swara-somalia/) hence my experience with the said boys.

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The Nomadic Urban Swara-SOUTH AFRICA- JP Morgan Challenge

Joy at JP Morgan Challenge2015South  Africans  have  this colloquial  high-life term  called  Phuza Thursday, loosely translated  from Zulu meaning Alcohol, but in a sentence it denotes to Drinking Copiously and  Thursday is pretty much reserved for this.  So, after 4 days  of board meetings, I was deaf in one  ear and a bit cross eyed from the presentations  and  when Thursday came, the office was abuzz because it was  Phuza Thursday.

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The Nomadic Urban Swara-GHANA

Running in AccraWhoever came up with the adage Ignorance is Bliss is a genius! And trust me it has everything to do with my run in Ghana this week. Now let’s rewind 48 hours before I left for Ghana … I went hiking up the Aberdare ranges on Elephant Hill. Not only was it tough, forcing me to sleep on the way twice (don’t underestimate the strength of a 10 minute power nap), but I had to pass through two types of forests and use paths used by elephants. As adorable as they are, and I support the Hands off our Elephants campaign… passing through their routes was rough. So that was Saturday through to Sunday morning and that night I flew to Ghana.

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The Nomadic Urban Swara-CAPETOWN, SOUTH AFRICA

IconicTableMountain

Coutesy of wikipedia.org

I have reached that age in life where I no longer put candles on my birthday cake and dramatically opt for a firecracker and my parents have handed me over to my aunties and grandmother to ‘talk to that modern daughter of yours’. To have discussions on, ‘it’s okay to bring anyone home, even if he’s white’ (and that was my grandmother lol)

So what has this got to with running? Well thanks to Mitch ( for the newbie Swaras, Mitch is one of our star runners and mention an Ultra marathon, particularly the Two Oceans Marathon, the verb to the sentence is Mitch as the noun is Urban Swaras), my running route in Capetown was the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.

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The Nomadic Urban Swara-UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Arizona 2Allow me a moment of   village excitement. I was in the US (… and I have this toothy smile as I say this) !!!! and in typical I believe very African fashion, every time I mentioned that I was going to the US, I was asked to come with something or visit one’s relative or I was introduced to someone who will ‘take care of you when you are away from home’. So why is it that I never get such treatment when I go to other countries, what are they chopped liver??!!

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The Nomadic Urban Swara-NIGERIA

Jos - NigeriaAh Nigeria… In the five years I have been traveling to this country one thing is constant. It never disappoints with the manic chaos and melodrama. Mention Nigeria and one feels an overwhelming sense of emotional overdose. It has one of the highest literacy rates in Africa, despite this the melodrama is infused within individuals. So your average Nigerian has two Masters or Doctorates, he is very spiritual and goes to church or the mosque, will drive the latest car in the market, conscientiously follows his cultural leaders (Obas-Kings), plus will swear in the belief and existence of witchcraft! That is a lot and I ALWAYS have a stupefied look when I converse with my Nigerian colleagues! And yes there is never a dull moment in this country, it is your cinema and you will have the proverbial popcorn in hand to watch drama unfold. And you thought the Kardashians were interesting?!

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The Nomadic Urban Swara-RWANDA& ETHIOPIA

kigaliWith absolute  lack of imagination, it was  truly a tale of two cities . Unlike Charles Dickson’s version, which, focuses on the major themes of duality, revolution, and resurrection , mine focuses  on two cities with similar topography and every runners nightmare (Kigali and Addis Ababa)

It was one of  those days, where  I had a 12 hour stopover in Nairobi before gallivanting between  two countries and yes I ran  in both.

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The Nomadic Urban Swara-BOTSWANA

botswana - run

Kgale X Country And Trail series race

So, it’s official the universal uniform for runners is  spandex,  and the brighter the color the better  and it is that uniform that creates some sense of familial bonding regardless of race, color or nationality . And  it is  in this spirit , that , after I landed in Gaborone, checked in my hotel and  changed into my running gear and started running in the streets. 2 kms into my run, I saw a large group of people  running in spandex and I took a chance.

So, I joined them.

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The Nomadic Urban Swara-SOUTH AFRICA

sandtonEh!! Tho yaye! ( Loosely translated to Oh… My word !).At this point allow me to go native.  Asking for directions in Africa is a palaver , regardless of  region. I will give a tale of two cities in South Africa.

1)      I am not a technorati, I  stuck to my $10 practical  thief proof phone for 5 years, until I actually got an Iphone two months ago as a gift, which, I must say I just charge and continue using my trusted  development phone .

2)      That goes to say stuff like google maps is  an  exciting new technology, which, I honestly never use, but stick to asking directions

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