Goddammit. I post a righteous <a href=”https://www.balloon-juice.com/2011/04/27/why-does-peggy-noonan-hate-america/”>rant</a> about the world thinking Americans are all insane and then half an hour later the entire United States goes stark raving birther-mad just to prove me correct.
Anyway, it was the 5th of August 1961.
Keith and I had been in Nairobi undermining the more moderate sections of the Kenyan independence movement because Jack Kennedy wanted to piss off the British. It didn’t take much work in those days – either to undermine the more moderate sections of African politics or to piss off the British. Death of Empire and all that.
We’d had a very successful couple of weeks, but it finally came time for us to leave. This pleased me no end, not least because Nairobi was a pustular, pestilent shit-hole that even the Brits didn’t want. Dust, dirt, disease and not a decent bar in the entire place.
We arrived at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport mid morning. Well, it was called an international airport but frankly it was just a room with one desk with two angry black men behind it which served for both ticket sales and check in. There was a goat tied near the door which they used to hitch to a cart for moving the luggage to the plane.
We lined up next to the goat to check in. I immediately noticed the young couple at the desk in front of us because they were a mixed race couple – he was black and she was white – which was still quite unusual at that time. He was trying to book airline tickets all the way through to Hawaii, which was causing untold confusion, while she was fussing over the most adorable tiny brown baby. It had huge ears, but a lovely smile. She kept calling the baby Barack, which I remember because I thought it an odd name.