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kenya smallSometimes I feel like a secondary illiterate: I learned to read in school, but thanks to Stargardt I can hardly use it when I walk through the streets.

When I finished my first assignment in Kenya, I introduced my successor. The very first time we were walking together towards the shopping centre, I noticed again how much I don't see. My companion asked me questions like, "Oh, there is even an optician; is he good?" or  "There is something written about a bakery; do you know it?". I walked down the same street for four years and never realized that there was an optician. Because the telling store window is missing, and the store only draws attention to itself with its sign or name painted on the wall. (also sees What can I buy here?) And I smelled the bakery occasionally, but I never felt the need to find out in which back building it is located precisely. Also, I always bake my own bread.

I then imagined that walking through the streets must be something like this for an illiterate person. Many coloured signs and writings on walls, but their information is not accessible. They become mere ornaments of the street. There was once an art performance where they took down all the advertising in a busy commercial street for a while and covered the lettering on the walls and windows. The street immediately became quieter because all the stores did not compete for attention. Well, for a stargardtien, the streets are always quiet - at least visually. The acoustics are another story.

This article is part of the series "Stargardt in Africa".