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Letter From

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Nairobi, Kenya

In the year 2000 I landed home, for my mother’s funeral, and found myself in the small steamy office of some security official at Mombasa airport. I did not have a yellow fever certificate. A group of red-eyed bureaucrats had cornered me as I picked up my luggage. I tried to plead, using my mother’s death, patriotism, Kiswahili, hand-wringing. Ah bana, please, I said, head tilting sideways, Boss, Chief, Mkubwa, Mzee, Mamsap, Sir: but there was no yield. A long shabby man just stared at me, smiling. So I reached into my pocket and gave him one hundred dollars. Then I walked away, leaving them smirking behind me.

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