15-Nov-2010 -- As we were in Kenya for three separate activities, all of which revolved around Geographic Information Systems (GIS), a confluence visit seemed like the perfect capstone. The first activity was a 2-day hands-on GIS and GPS workshop at the Esri East Africa GIS office in Nairobi, the second was attending and presenting at the annual East Africa Esri GIS conference, which was held this year in Nairobi, and the third, which we were doing today, was to visit the first of 4 universities to promote and support teaching and using GIS. We were en route to Jomo Kenyatta University to make a presentation to students in the geomatics program and to meet with faculty and discuss their needs and possibility for partnerships. Would we make it to the Confluence in time and still be able to make our meeting?
Our route took us northeast from Nairobi, along Thika Road. This road is the site of Kenya's largest transportation project at the present time, and for miles and miles, the road is one long series of bridge abutments, bulldozers, barricades, and construction workers. Suffice it to say that it was slow going, and we were rapidly running out of time. Despite the construction, a large number of people were standing beside the road, walking beside the road, and buying and selling things along the road. Amazingly, we did not see one accident, not even a fender-bender. Despite the high speeds and lack of lanes and traffic lights, everyone seemed to have an innate sense of how close was too close. To avoid some of the construction, we traveled first northeast from Nairobi along some back roads, passing coffee bushes and canvas-covered frames housing flowers for cultivation and sale. We were making good time until we reached Thika Road, where the construction caused delays. We passed many interesting buildings, a few of which I have included here.
However, we had a whole class of students, professors, and deans awaiting our arrival at Jomo Kenyatta University, and we did not wish to keep them waiting. In the end, we ran out of time to make it all the way to the Confluence. At our closest point, I took some photographs of the natural vegetation, and then we hastily set off for our meeting with the fine faculty and students at the geomatics department at the university. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit there and our discussion about spreading GIS and other geotechnologies throughout the campus, for teaching, research, and educational administration such as campus safety and infrastructure mapping.
All in all, it was a wonderful day in Kenya even if we were not successful in reaching the Confluence. Asante sana!