On Thursday morning, January 20, 2011, the Kenya Quilt Guild received quiltmaking visitors from overseas, courtesy of Jim West’s Sew Many Places.  Accompanying the 50 tour participants were quilting superstars Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims, hosts of The Quilt Show amongst all their other many activities.  What a great time we had!

The event was hosted in the East African Women’s League headquarters at WEAL House on Bishop’s Road in Nairobi.  Our guests, who were lodged at the luxurious Nairobi Serena Hotel, arrived promptly at 10:00 a.m. Pulling up in three shiny new buses, the safari participants debarked and moved into the hall and auditorium of WEAL House where they were warmly welcomed by members of the Kenya Quilt Guild.

With the entire group assembled in the auditorium, a few small speeches were given.  Margaret Odera, resplendent in full African dress, shouted “JAMBO!  Karibu sana!” and issued a customary welcome to Kenya to our guests.  Then, our Lady Chairman, Jasvinder Phull, greeted the visitors on behalf of the Kenya Quilt Guild.  Gill Rebelo, our resident quilt and East African textile historian, spoke briefly about the history of the “Settler Tapestries” on permanent display in the hall.

Alex and Ricky jointly spoke about how delighted they were to be visiting Kenya, and about all the fun they have working with quilters from around the world.  They presented all members of the Kenya Quilt Guild with a gift subscription to The Quilt Show.  Our members were delighted!

In return, the Guild presented Alex with a lovely African necklace that we know she will enjoy wearing with great pride, and Ricky with a traditional African “finger piano.”  What better gift for a talented musician and entertainer?  Ricky promises he will be playing it on his next album!  To Jim we presented a lovely ebony “mother and child” antelope sculpture.

The participants of the tour enjoyed proper Kenyan hospitality, taking tea and coffee with us and feasting from a table loaded with cakes, samosas and all kinds of other “bitings.”  They wandered leisurely around the building, viewing a fabulous, although hastily hung early that morning, display of quilts made by our members.  There were about 45 quilts on display, both indoors and outside, so there was good reason to keep moving about.  The visitors introduced themselves and chatted with our members, and vice versa, and a truly good time was had by all!

The buses departed at about 12:00 p.m., and we were sorry to see the party break up as all good things must come to an end.

Thanks go to all those who loaned quilts for display, brought food to share, helped set up the space and quilt exhibition, and especially to Dena Crain, whose idea this reception was, for organizing it with Jim West.

We hope Jim’s safari tour group will enjoy the rest of their time in Kenya as much as we enjoyed entertaining them yesterday morning:  “Safiri salaama!