Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Peculiar Kenyan

Its great to be back..updating my blog! This afternoon i went to the StoryMoja Hay Festival (which according to the organizers, is Kenya's leading literary event), at the Railways club in Nairobi.
Several events were taking place concurrently in different marquees, which meant i had to make a choice as to which one to go to.Scanning quickly through the day's program, my attention was drawn to a forum hosted by Pauline Odhiambo, a journalist with a local daily, and Sunny Bindra, a management strategist, popular columnist and author of 'The Peculiar Kenyan'.
Left to Right: Sunny Bindra and Pauline Odhiambo at the StoryMoja Hay Festival

For several years now, Sunny has been writing in the Sunday Nation newspaper.  'The Peculiar Kenyan' is a collection of Sunny's perspectives on the peculiar things that happen only in Kenya, or are uniquely Kenyan.This afternoon's discussion was on this new book, 'The Peculiar Kenyan'. I would like to share with you a few of these 'peculiarities'.
  • Kenyan judges still wear white blonde wigs, a tradition that was supposedly inherited from the colonial times. Problem is, British judges discarded their wigs long time ago. Why on earth are our judges still clinging to theirs, making them look like ridiculous father Christmas figures? Very peculiar!
  • Only Kenyans start a sentence with the words 'Me i...' Whether it is meant for emphasis, is not clear. In a conversation you will hear, "Me i told him to go away" or "Me i don't go there nowadays". Another strange use of language, peculiar to Kenyans is when someone walks into a meeting in the morning and greets those seated "Good mornings!" Exactly how many 'mornings' are being referred to? Peculiar!
  • Only in Kenya do we have traffic lights and traffic police working to control traffic and all at the same time, but usually issuing conflicting directions. Automation and labour working together! The lights turn red, but the traffic police officer is motioning the motorists to keep driving! Why spend money on setting up traffic lights if the police are going to be controlling traffic? Peculiar. Very peculiar!
  • Television news anchors in Kenya speak in a fake British/American accent, and end up looking like they will dislocate their jaws the very next moment. Apparently, they are 'coached' by their 'news managers' to speak the way they do. Tragedy is, kids are now mimicking their style of speaking. Why cant they just speak naturally like Kenyans? For heaven's sake, when the British and Americans read Kenyan words, they make no attempt to sound 'Kenyan'. Why should our news anchors? Peculiar!
  • Only Kenyans accept to be treated contemptuously by matatu crews. They will drive dangerously, charge twice or thrice the normal fare, because it is raining, and Kenyans will not protest. Until there is a grisly accident, and the next few days will be dominated by analysis of 'road rage' on Kenya's roads. Then it it will be back to business as usual-until the next accident. Very peculiar! 
  • Lastly, i could not buy a copy of Sunny's new book because the shipment was delayed at the port of Mombasa. But we carried on discussing a book that only the author and the moderator of the forum had read. Kenyans are quite a resilient lot. Maybe this is not peculiar...or is it?
Sunny's book is intended to be a humorous way of looking at ourselves as Kenyans, having a good laugh, and later, reflecting on the little things we can change, to make our society a more hospitable place to live in.
Sunny Bindra's 'The Peculiar Kenyan' is a must read. Watch out for news of the book launch and get yourself a copy. Better still, be a peculiar Kenyan, and wait for someone else to buy it...then you can always borrow!

1 comment:

  1. I like the Judges' wig part. Manze those guys look as ancient as the trial of Edmund Campion!!! We make an interesting Kenyan family with our numerous peculiarities..don't you think? ME I think your blog is fun....