Around the World in 20 Drinks: Kenya

Our 'round the world extravaganza reaches Africa for the first time, with middle-distance runners, strange pre-drink foodstuffs, and an old favourite...

Feature by Myles Edwards | 05 Nov 2012
  • Guinness Kenya

In Iten, Kenya for 3 months of altitude training, we spent a fair while researching the food and drink that would be on offer to fuel our training. Ugali featured heavily in all of the travel guides and was largely attributed to being one of the main factors behind the worldwide dominance of Kenyan distance runners over the past few decades. Surely we would be foolish not to eat it? Ugali is made from maize flour and cooked with water until it forms a dough-like consistency. The traditional method of consuming ugali is to roll it into a lump using your hands and then dip it into a stew of vegetables or meat. I can only describe it as a dry, bland doppelganger of mashed potato

As with the food, drink is a whole different ball game in Kenya. Obviously as we were training to further our respective running careers, alcohol was not on the agenda for the whole of the 3 month trip. Pubs were scattered all over the place but you could be forgiven for not noticing them as they were more like a garden shed or garage in appearance.  

On St Patrick‘s Day, we met up with a couple of other Irishmen and went for some dinner. One of the first things to spring to our attention on the menu was Guinness. I should have known that going out on St Patrick‘s Day with three Irishmen was never going to be a quiet night. We soon found out, however, that this was no normal Guinness – it was at least twice as strong as your normal pint, and served in what can only be described as a flask-like bottle. It turns out that the black stuff changes depending on where you are in the world, and that the Kenyans love a strong drink.

Numerous flasks and whiskies later, we ended up in an Eldoret nightclub, where we were the only 'Mzungos' (the term Kenyans use to refer to white people), dancing away until 6am the next morning. Somehow, we all still managed two training sessions the following day. Maybe there is something in the Guinness...


As well as being a middle-distance runner, Myles runs a PR company offering photo, film, and design services.