Two days earlier i had set foot at Népliget, bus stop of the bus 901, Könyves Kálmán körút, in Budapest, Hungary, under a stifling 36 degrees-Celcius heat; and that after a 16-hour bus ride from Frankfurt, across the Czech republic and Slovakia. Six of my Kenyan friends had already arrived a couple of days earlier-and more efficiently-an Egypt air flight from Nairobi to Budapest, via Cairo. I was visiting Hungary for the second time in 3 years. But i would never have been prepared for what awaited me this time round.
I have been around now, on planet earth, for slightly more than two and a half decades., during which time (before 23/07/2010) the closest i had ever gotten to a high-ranking politician was through television, when i watched political talk shows, or those other shows that people call 'the news'.
|President of the Republic of Hungary, Mr. Pál Schmitt|
The bus ride from Piliscsaba, to the parliament buildings in Lajos Kossuth square, on the banks of the Danube, cutting across the morning Budapest traffic, seemed very short. Adrenaline was rising.
|The group outside the Hungarian parliament, before the grand entrance!|
As the guide explained away the significance of the fascinating and seemingly strange things we were feasting our eyes on, i kept wondering to myself,probably to distract myself from the impending meeting that i felt ill-prepared for, where they trained guides and cabin crew and others in this kind of profession, to speak the way they do-almost like machines-and always with standard words and smiles.
|Inside the parliament chambers|
I am a very poor dancer. So when my group decided they were going to make their grand entrance into the President's-elect office singing and dancing, i gleefully volunteered to take charge of the handy-cam, to record the proceedings. I followed our Hungarian friends as they were ushered through the door in single file, and went ahead to shake the hand of a smiling, tall, athletic-built man standing in the centre of the room. The President-elect, Mr. Pál Schmitt! My friends followed, dancing and singing, while Mr. Schmitt watched seemingly bemused. Then totally unexpectedly, he joined in the dancing! This would hardly happen with President Kibaki, i thought to myself. Finally, the group ended their entertainment session with the popular 'Jambo' song, which has the refrain 'hakuna matata', Kiswahili for 'no problem'.
|President Schmitt joins in a dance|
|Presenting the fly-whisk to President Schmitt|
|the Presidential 'address'|
|President Schmitt proudly displays a gift from the Kenyan group|
Isn't it amazing to have a head of state as a friend!!