Written by Nandemu Barasa
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A Kenyan student at The Hague proudly displays a West fm branded T-shirt. He is among the many Kenyans living in Netherlands who are proud to be associated with Kenyan journalists on a media training. [PHOTO|Nandemu Barasa|West Fm]
It is exactly 10pm in the famous Hague city on Monday and the sun is still shining as if it is mid morning.
However, according to residents of the city, right here in the Netherlands, this is because of the summer season which makes it possible for the sun to be seen until very late in the night.
For those of us who are very new to the city and the nation at large could not believe it. Just how can the sun be still visible at this time of the day? If it happens back in my native land in Kenya, I bet there shall be interdenominational prayers organized across the country with many prophesying the second coming of Jesus Christ. Some will even take off to unknown places. But that is not the case here in Netherlands.
10 pm at night in Netherlands means it is 11pm in Kenya basing on the time difference where Kenya is ahead of Netherlands with one hour.
People here move very fast and everybody appears to be very concerned with what he or she does, just the same with Nairobi people.
Infrastructure in Netherlands is at its best. You cannot see any pot holes like it is a common study like feature with the Kenyan roads even in the capital city, Nairobi.
Road users follow instructions without much ado like Kenyans who flout traffic rules at will, anytime, anywhere and still want to be spared when caught. In this land, there are no traffic cops who reap from the motorists with great impunity but, make no mistake, you will be found should you break a single rule and you will be hauled to a court of law to face charges for the crime committed.
All the monitoring on the roads is done technologically and therefore there is no police officer on the roads to direct vehicles and arrest law breakers like the Kenyan style. Vehicles, motorcycles, bicycles, pedestrians each are given lanes on roads and marked with different colours. There are no traffic jams like other countries.
They argue that resources have been distributed to grassroots and therefore many people can work in town but stay in their home places. In addition to the roads, the nation has a standard gauge railway line and because it is electric, the train is fast but cheap as compared to road transport.
What one can interpret as laziness, here most of the things are done in a technological way, for instance tickets for the trains are obtained from a booth which requires you to press certain buttons and follow instructions before getting the ticket after inserting the coins in it.
Life at The Hague and Europe at large appears to be very expensive. For instance for the meals, a lunch time meal only costs 20 Euros which is an equivalent to approximately Ksh2500 Kenyan money but even the food offered can just be referred to as the appetiser.
Many of my colleagues in the profession who are with me here at The Hague are seen complaining that there is no food. In this case referring to Ugali but there is nothing they can do because that cannot be changed.
Back to the summer season, it was so fascinating when during our sessions one of us asked the instructor for the difference between night and day in Netherlands. It appeared to be a very funny question but I tell you many of us were really waiting for the answer.
Knowing that we were very anxious about the answer, the instructor took time to explain to us about the summer and winter seasons saying that during winter, days are longer than nights and the sun sets at about 11pm while during winter, nights are longer than days with the sun setting as early as 5pm.
Other goods in Netherlands are really very expensive. A 200ml Coca-Cola soda which in Kenya retails for as little as Ksh20, here it retails at 2.75 Euros which is about Ksh300 Kenyan shillings. Hotels are the most expensive and I am told for one night some hotels charge as high as 300 Euros. These are some of the hotels that the four Kenyan suspects in the Post Election Violence stay whenever they come here.
The four are Mr. Francis Muthaura, Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta, Mr. William Ruto and Mr. Joshua arap Sang.
Security at The Hague is high and you have to be seriously frisked before entering any building. At the ICC buildings, the security checks are intense; everyone has to be frisked thoroughly including the court officials. I am told Netherlands promised to provide the highest standards of security and that is why the ICC headquarters and courts were set up in the country.
Apart from ICC, The Hague also has the International Court of Justice, ICJ, and Tribunal on the former Yugoslavia. That explains why Hague to some corners in Netherlands is referred to as ‘the headquarters of international justice.’
Tuesday at night, I was privileged to meet two Kenyans who are students at The Hague who were in company with other Dutch friends having a drink in one of the hotels. They told me about their experiences at The Hague and how life is very expensive in Netherlands.
One of the Kenyans, a Luhya and to be precise, a Bukusu comes from Makutano, Kanduyi in Bungoma County; although she says she has been away for some time. She now cannot speak fluent Bukusu although she can attar certain words.
She was accompanied by another Kenyan who is also a student here. We were all very excited during the meeting because it is indeed very great to meet people from your country in a foreign country.
Mr. Nandemu Barasa is a Senior Editor at West Fm. He is also a senior political analyst with a keen interest in cultural research and analysis. He is also a senior presenter.
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