I’ve been laughing hysterically while reading the book, “How to Write About Africa” by Binyavanga Waninaina. This little, literary masterpiece takes a satirical look at the way westerners view Africa. Waninaina says in his book that when referring to Africa broad generalizations are good, hence the reference to the whole continent rather than the particular country where I am living. If you remember, at the commencement of this blog I stated emphatically that I am in no way an expert on Africa however today I feel differently about my position as a spokes person for the continent having lived here now for 3 months. As a newly self-affirmed expert, I think that it would be a good idea to share the laughable wisdom that I have acquired in my ascension to Africa-Yoda status.
Here is my own highly subjective list of expert advice on Kenya.
1. Ugali (looks like stiff cornmeal) -you must eat it. You can eat it with lunch. You can eat it with dinner. You can even eat it with rice but you must eat it-otherwise you really haven’t eaten.
2. The term “black muzungu” (muzungu means foreigner) is an oxymoron. Those who find themselves in this category live in an ethereal world.
3. If you are a black muzungu (ethereal, oxymoronic category mentioned above) and in the distance you see a missionary approaching, immediately let him know that you are a Westerner and he will assume that you do not need to be evangelized by virtue of your birthplace. White people in African do not need to be evangelized.
4. In addition to employing house help, a driver, a nanny a guard and a gardener you must also employ a middle-aged gecko to keep the mosquito population inside the house to a minimum. You must agree to house the gecko and feed it for the agreement to work. At any time if the neighbor’s house acquires more mosquitoes the gecko may abandon his place of employment in search of bigger and better work opportunities.
5. No matter how much the urge impresses upon you, refrain from breaking out in your best known traditional African dance (hands and legs flailing wildly in the opposite direction) if you happen to be in a club and you suddenly hear a 2010 World Cup song. The Kenyans will most likely be doing the Dougie http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dougie.
6. Speaking of dance, I have come to discover that salsa is the national dance of Nairobi and Indian chapatti and chicken pilau are the national dishes following closely behind (the) ugali.
7. The barometer for how well you drive is measured by the number of Matatos (crazy van drivers) you can enrage on any given day. Quincy has perfected this art. You must ask him how to acquire matato-enraging Yoda status.
8. Do not move to Nairobi if you are looking to express your blackness by wearing an afro, twists, cornrows or any hairstyle that resembles Kathleen Cleaver, Lauryn Hill or Erykah Badu. Wearing a wig is the professional hairstyle of choice-even if it appears to be on backwards or sideways during the mid week.
9. When asked about your life in Kenya, immediately mention Al-Shabaab, grenade slinging Africans (nice broad generalization), and contraband sugar by Somali pirates. This will keep frememies, in-laws and other unwanted guest from visiting.