Kenyans are a uniquepeople; that is a statement we have all heard or used, countless times and there are a number of things that make us unique, some bad, some nice, and some hilarious. Here are a few of those things, but I know you can think of a million more.Bargaining — Kenyans haggle with everyone about everything. Even with the growth of supermarkets, you will still find fellows trying to bargain right at the counter, “Kwani hakuna discount na mimi ni customer?” The poor cashier never really knows how to answer to that. I bet they wish they had nyahunyos under their counters. This leaves me wondering how difficult it must be for those girls on K-Street every day. No wonder they are asking
for government protection.
Desire to be ordinary? Well, watch the news and you will wonder who mwananchi wa kawaida is. The price of petrol goes up and they interview motorists who, sitting in their big cars say, “Sisi kama wananchi wa kawaida tunaumia.” Hike the cost of kerosene and they interview everyone on the
streets and everyone says, “Sisi wananchi wa kawaida…” Ask a politician about this or that government policy and they say, “The government should subsidise the cost of doing business in Kenya. We ordinary Kenyans are suffering.” So who is ordinary?
‘Tunaomba serikali’ — This is what made me stop watching prime time news. A news item about a clogged drain comes on and the only thing a guy says is that the government should help. Honestly, a clogged drain! Why not fix it yourself and if you cannot, let the government unclog your drain while you offer to go fight the Al-Shabaab in Somalia!
Beer absorbers — Let us face it, we drink like nobody else, come rain or sunshine. Unlike the Irish, who leave a little beer in the bottle “for the ancestors”, Kenyans make sure that the bottle is dry. We even shake the bottle and peer at it against the light to see if there are traces of the drink that we
can lap up. As if that is not enough, we remove all the paper labels on the bottle so that we can get value for our money. Sheesh!
Magical umbrellas — Talking of rain, this must be the only place on earth where less than five minutes into the rains, there is a hawker next to you selling umbrellas for double the price.
How and where on earth do they get the umbrellas? I think they should be made weather forecasters.
Double the fare — This regularly happens with mathrees. Kwani just because there is some water coming from the sky you think it somehow magically translates into abiria having more
money? Honestly, why do you double the fare?
Pay before you eat — In many restaurants, you have to pay before you see the food. Too bad if it turns out to be tasteless because you will have to eat it.
Staring — Kenyans stare at anything; a naked madman fighting chokoras, a fighting couple, you name it. Try this and see how well it works: Stop and look up at a tall building for a minute.
Soon you will have a crowd of about 20 Kenyans staring into nothingness with you. Ask anybody in the crowd what they are looking at and you will hear the most amazing fairy tales, ever. I did, and I need a whole page to tell you the tale.
Church hopping — Here, people move from one church to another in search of miracles, and the churches come with preachers who cannot speak softly even when they are addressing one person. They must scream and use bull horns. And they preach about sowing seeds for miracles to happen. Well camouflaged conmen, if you ask me.
Snobbing celebs — The one thing about this country that I love is the fact that Kenyans will meet a celeb on the street and walk on unperturbed. At best, they just turn and ask: Huyo ni Tupac? And the person next to them asks, “Mgani?”
Business naming: People from central Kenya, renown for their business- minded nature, are the worst at creating business names. Combining the syllables of their names to come up with a business name is a common habit. For example, if Jimmy and Ng’ang’a decide to start a business, we may have a company called Jinga Enterprises. Or, if Mbugua and Wanjiru open an eatery, we may end up with Mbwa Hotel. Wazimu Beauty Salon might also be in the works for three enterprising ladies named Wairimu, Zipporah, and Mumbi. Another common business naming method is the Mama so and so model. Mama Carol, Mama Oti, and all those other Mama fulani wa fulani outlets. I always wonder whether the women’s other children do not feel a little neglected? Should we not be seeing more of Mama Carol na Wengineo Grocery store? Maybe a combination of all the children’s names would do. Like Mama Carol na Nancy na Cliff yule mtundu anayekataa shule General Stores. It is a mouthful, I know, but that way, all the children feel represented,
Everything, Makutano — One other thing I have observed is the huge number of businesses in Kenya with the word Makutano. If a visitor comes to Kenya, they may think Makutano is Kenya’s McDonalds. And with the many Makutano hotels, Makutano bars, and Makutano butcheries we
have in Kenya, I would not blame them. I doubt there is a town in Kenya worth its salt that does not have a bar or hotel or kiosk called Makutano something within its boundaries. This just shows lack of creativity among the local populace. Or may be it is just one of our peculiar habits; we know it’s boring, but…