Why are you running around like that for?

Running through farmland near Nakuru, Kenya.
Running through farmland near Nakuru, Kenya.

About ten years ago, I lived and worked in a slum located in east Nairobi. One day, after a long period of inactivity, I decided to go for a run around our compound. Our enclosure was a tiny area overlooking the slums, a total circumference of less than 200 metres. Undeterred, I donned a pair of shorts and, under the cover of night, circled the centre and the yard.

Inside the main compound’s building were some youth from the slum, busy with meetings and rehearsals. From where they were sitting, all they saw were a pair of white legs streaking past the open door. Once these legs had done a few tours, they couldn’t help but ask exactly what I was doing. “Who are running away from Moire?” “Ye Wha?” was all I could reply. “OK, then who are you running after?”

Despite being raised in this fertile land of long distance runners, these Kenyan kids were still trying to work why I was running around like that. According to them, running had to have a purpose: either you were running away from someone, probably a cop, or you were running after someone, usually a robber. To be wasting energy, running around without a clear purpose – now why would you want to be doing something like that?

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