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.


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

  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