Tuesday, September 22, 2009

23 (random) things I love about Kenya (Part 1)

As my time in Kenya continues to develop, I am realizing that there is so much about this country that I love: people, places, plates, smells, sights, sounds, and a whole bunch of other things that don't begin with P or S. The list is so expansive, in fact, that it would be impossible -- or at least extremely overbearing (for the reader) -- to share every single one in full detail.

So, in order to unveil a few of these random fascinations -- without having to commit to a full blog entry on each one of them -- I've begun to compile a list. And because I am entirely positive that the list will only lengthen within the next 4-5 months, let's consider this part 1…

23 (random) things I love about Kenya
  • I love the way my shoulders and elbows have sparked lasting friendships with other Matatu passengers, as the conductor stuffed some 18 people in a bus that comfortably sits 10-12.
  • I love the way Bob Marley, Jay-Z and artists whose names I can't yet pronounce vibrate entire Matatus to life.
  • I love the way Matatu drivers breach sidewalks, invade ongoing traffic, charge single lane roads and honk war cries to pedestrians, all in the name of defeating 'jams.'
  • I love the way I always write Matatu with a capital M, even though it’s a common noun.
  • I love the way a visiting pastor recently compared God to a Matatu driver: finding a way when there is no way.
  • I love the way the pastor first made a disclaimer about the methods of Matatu drivers.
  • I love the way mango, passion fruit, pineapple and avocado taste alive.
  • I love the way my Kenyan mother makes chapati and githeri (beans & maize), and always has black tea and chai to prepare us for our 7am departures.
  • I love the way she prays with us, even when we are already 10 minutes late.
  • I love the way my Kenyan brother looks irate every time I so much as suggest a critique of Manchester United.
  • I love the way my football team (CT United) performs celebrations after scoring a goal, out done only be the likes of Usain Bolt.
  • I love the way the bathroom door at my office reads Engaged when the unit is occupied.
  • I love the way very important public figures are willing (dare I say eager) to accommodate requests for a meeting, even when there seems to be little t0 nothing in it for them.
  • I love the way every phone conversation (informal or formal) begins with an inquiry into your well being, even before the caller identifies himself.
  • I love the way 4 year old children in Mathare rhythmically and crisply shout: How are you! from across the road, marrying their developing mastery of the English language with their excitement to display it.
  • I love the way the same children proudly proclaim: I am fine, thank you! when the question bounces back.
  • I love the way I feel as if the entire country studies the same TV programs at night (think American Idol, times 7).
  • I love the way the Government gifts public holidays at random (I've enjoyed two, so far)
  • I love the way a street vendor called me Barack while walking by him on the street.
  • I love the way every article in the Daily Nation about Obama reminds readers that his father was Kenyan, as if it was possible to forget.
  • I love the way the Gitanga and Muthangari Rd Daily Nation representative humbly and radiantly greets me every morning.
  • I love the way the Daily Nation consistently has at least 4 pages flowing with football.
  • I love the way that this list could occupy the entire Sunday edition of the Daily Nation, and still be incomplete.

3 comments:

  1. As do I. Especially the children, so proud of there English. And everything about your host family.

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  2. Oh my Benje!!! Reading your list took me back there, you're an amazing writer. What I love, is that a lot of those things could be hard and irritating, but you look at them as a blessing. Be safe in the taxi rides, and enjoy some chipati and beans with avacado for me <3

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