Monday, November 19, 2012

For My Kenyan Readers

It's recently come to my attention that I have a Kenyan fan-base.

That's a pretty hefty exaggeration.  In fact, it just turns out that some of my colleagues googled me, leading to a discovery of Zero Degrees South, and subsequently, to several awkward face-to-face interactions designed to let me know that said discovery had been made.  For example, "Good morning, Sarah.  I know what happened last December."  It took me several rounds of, "What? What happened?" before I finally understood.

Anyway.  I've written a couple of times about how living abroad in Kenya can be surprising, funny, weird... and wonderful.  That's run-of-the-mill stuff for someone living in a cross-cultural environment and is a big part of why living overseas is appealing to me.  But, since I've spent time writing about what I find different/new/weird about Kenya, I figure, all's fair: I should share a few facts about my homeland that might surprise Mr. Kweyuh or anyone else who may have discovered this site.

1. You already know that Americans like to keep dogs as pets instead of purely for guarding the house. But, you may not have known: dogs are often allowed to sleep in the same bed as their owners.

2. In America, we like to pretend that things are more equal (and they almost certainly are) between the sexes.  Men can cook; women can drive.  Men can stay home with the kids while women go to work with no social repercussions.  But, the truth is: if left to their own devices (i.e. no mothers, girlfriends, sisters, etc.), all bachelors in both countries are still likely to cook instant noodles for every meal.

3. In the summertime, most of us take our tea ice cold with no sugar and no milk.

4. We don't have roundabouts on our roads.  As a result, we don't know how to use them and that may account for any panicking you might have seen an mzungu driver undergo while driving in Kenyan cities.

5. Most Americans don't farm.  At all.  They might have a small garden plot of tomatoes, but almost nobody grows the food they eat.  It's not even like an "I live in Nairobi but my family has 3 acres back home" things.  That's partly because, for the most part, we don't have historic homelands like Kenyans do (or, if we do, they're in Europe, Asia, Latin America, or Africa and we haven't had contact with that branch of the family in a hundred - or 2 or 3 hundred - years).

6. That brings me to another point: lots of Americans don't know what "tribe" they're a part of.  Or, they only know part of it.  I claim to be Dutch heritage but my grandparents (and great grandparents) were German, English, and French too.

7. We learn to drive when we're 15 and licensed when we're 16.  In some places kids can drive as young as 14!  So, if you're ever in the farm states in the middle of my country - watch out! :-)

8. The average age of marriage in America is 25 for women and 27 for men.  The average age of the mother at first birth is 25.6.  So, save your lectures.  I'm not as old or as weird as you think.

9. We have winter.  And it's cold.  I know you think that it's cold in the rainy season when it gets down to like 13 degrees (55 Fahrenheit), but for us, that's a beautiful day.  Where I'm from, it gets so cold that rain literally freezes when it hits the ground.  Sometimes colder.

10. We call football "soccer."  And we don't care about it.  Instead, we go crazy for American Football, which, in truth, has nothing to do with feet outside of occasional running.  It's played primarily by throwing and catching a weirdly shaped ball... with your hands.

Hope you've learned something and gotten a good laugh.  And for my American readers - well, there you have it.  We're weird/strange/different too.  Ain't it grand?

It's true.  He's been on my bed.
Photo Credit: George

1 comment:

  1. Bookmarked and on my reader! Write more often. Hope TZ is great.