By Kahengeri Mwihaki
- Kukopa kopa
In America salaries are paid twice a month. However bills (car payments, gas, electricity, insurance, credit cards, cable, phone etc.) are due any time of the month and once cleared, there are those who have little or no money left for recurring expenditure like fuel, and food. In the Kenyan spirit a brother or a sister will approach you asking for a ‘soft loan’ to cater for the immediate need. This comes with a sworn promise to repay on payday. While the googly ‘woishe’ eyes makes a compelling case, it is advisable to give cautiously because that will be the last time you see the borrower. And the end of friendship!
- Worst business partners
When looking for a potential investment partner(s), Kenyans do not make the best set. From wanting to get rich overnight, to trying to cut corners in an environment where big brother is always watching, you can be sure that business partnerships last a short period of time. More importantly, an ego, anchored in a ‘know-it-all attitude,’ because heck we are all made equal by fact of being in Diaspora, is the surest way to the downfall. There are women groups where the partners have resulted into fist (cat) fights to settle differences because the partners cannot agree on anything.
- Mushene aka Gossip
You just need to tell one person something confidential and you can be sure the news will travel faster than sound does in water. You can be sure, that for the news to be saucy enough to hit the airwaves across the states, the carriers will embellish, tantalize and sensationalize the ‘mushene’ in order to perhaps be revered for being in the know! You are free to think of names of such people 🙂
- Kenyan food
Regardless of how long a Kenyan has lived in America, you can be sure that any Kenyan gathering must have mukimo, chapatis, poorly-made pilau, beef stew with carrots, over-cooked cabbages and other Kenyan delicacies. In a state like California, where diversity means a multitude of cuisines, for example Mexican, Korean, Thai, Peruvian, Italian, Japanese, Nigeria (fufu oh); there is a near-zero percent chance that a Kenyan will forego the Kenyan delicacy for Japanese sushi, Peruvian chicken fajitas or Mexican tacos.
While Kenyans in Diaspora are always critical of government appointments that does not reflect the diversity of tribes in Kenya, the tribalism in Diaspora is arguably lethal than in the motherland. People make friendships based on tribe and invitation to parties, in most cases, is determined by tribe. While discussing Kenyan politics, you have to approach the discussion with caution, since conversations always take a tribal angle. Surprisingly, and for example the Kikuyu community is also split; with evidence of simmering animosity between Kiambu-Kikuyu and Nyeri-Kikuyu
- Free loading
Kenyans love free stuff. If you have a business, they will demand ‘Kenyan discounts’ on top of whatever discounts you are offering other customers. When you go out to a party, some will never offer to pick the tab. In other unfortunate cases, some will pretend to be in a hurry to leave once fed, without leaving a cent to cover their expense. If you dare ask them, they will retort “wewe uko America.”
- Binge drinking
At the sight of alcohol, and free alcohol at that, Kenyans will go crazy, and drink like there is no tomorrow. You can be sure that a good number will not be able to handle the alcohol, and “mwaura’ becomes the order of the evening.
- Hanging out in gangs
Most Kenyans do not know how to enjoy their own company or to be in company of other nationalities and will always be seen tagging along in groups of 3’s or 4’s. never mind that they interact with these other nationalities in places of work or in their neighborhoods, but will seek company of a fellow Kenyan who lives miles and miles away, just because!
Most Kenyans have the mentality that they can get a service or a job if they use the connection of another Kenyan. Yet, they know too well that the system in America does not work like that! Moreover, in a country where internet connectivity is way superior than in the motherland, there are Kenyans who will find it difficult to hit the search engines, and will instead seek help from a friend for things they can do by themselves!
Some Kenyans push the ‘scare your neighbor’s’ mentality too far. From taking unnecessary loans to fund trips to Las Vegas, rent apartments in posh addresses, drive state of the art machines, they do too much to make others think they are doing too well.
- Mpango wa kando struggles
For some reason, most relationships are tried and tested by the temptations that lurk within and without. The ‘jump-offs’ are readily available and come in many variations. From Caucasians to African Americans; from Caribbean to Asians and fellow Africans there is a lot to choose from. It goes without saying that a Kenyan man, perhaps because of Obama effect, is always in high demand. Your guess is as good as mine on divorce rates among Kenyans.
The writer lives in Albuquerque-New Mexico, USA.