The early part of the day was spent preparing for the afternoon’s barbecue, with everyone making themselves busy moving tables and chairs around, and chopping and slicing fruit and vegetables. Quite a feast was created, with Kibe manning the piece de resistance that was the barbecue, big enough to hold the whole goat leg, the ribs, marinated chicken and dozens of sausages – I wondered how many people we expected (it turned out not a many as I thought, but quality over quantity).
We were expecting guests for 1pm we were told, but 1pm came and went and no sign emerged. The aroma of the cooking goat was causing physiological symptoms, but I forced myself to be patient, this was to be a relaxed gathering after all. Finally, guests began to arrive, firstly Okech, a loud and confident veteran artist, who’d had a lot of experience working in the UK and US, and who had known Syowia since she was a young woman, having met her on a residency in Chicago twenty years or so ago.
We had some great conversations and, it seemed, Okech had become a bit disillusioned with art, though clearly had buried passion. Our wide-ranging conversation on the power of the arts to connect people and bring about change had us all animated. He said he’d like us to meet up and do something together while we’re here, we’ll see what emerges.
We also spent time with Syowia’s father, an 80-something paediatric surgeon, who is something of a leader in the field and still performs operations from time to time, despite his advancing years. We talked, ate, and drank beer until well after dark.
Just when we thought the evening was over, some drama took the stage. It seems that Okech’s ageing Peugeot had, bouncing along the dirt track, lost one of its wheels and sustained some damage, rending it undriveable. Problem-solving ensued and Syowia and Ciaran shot off in the pickup to assist. Mechanics were called, and a jury-rigged fix was completed. We later learned that the car had broken down further on its journey, and a tow truck had to be called.