Written by QQ
Last weekend, a bunch of bored Kenyans and myself were hanging out with a Malaysian girl we had all just met. After devising a plan and a destination we headed out. We crossed the road while oncoming traffic zoomed by, dodging a car here, a truck there, getting to the other side, breathless yet flushed with the thrill of courting danger. The Malaysian was still on the other side, at the traffic light, waiting for the cars to stop, and for the little red man to turn green and let her know it was safe to cross. Her ineptitude at crossing the road was hilarious to the rest of us. ‘Haha, were being so Kenyan!’
Later, we picked up 4 more guys, squashed them into my two-door, small
ish Vauxhall Corsa, and drove to the cinema. The car was quite crammed and from the outside, it didn’t look like there were people in there. Instead it looked like there were pictures of people plastered against the windows. The Malaysian continually worried about being stopped by the police for driving an overpopulated vehicle. My good friend chuckled it off by say “Don’t worry, this is just what us Kenyans do all the time.”
What a terrible first impression she must have had of Kenyans. Which begs the question, what do foreign nationals think of when you announce that you’re Kenyan? What is the first thing that pops into their heads?
There’s the usual stereotypes: that you can run, that you are an illiterate monkey from Africa, that you are poor…etc. But sometimes, quite often actually, there’s absolutely nothing. Because truth be told, most people just don’t know the first thing about our fair country. You see, we generally have Carte Blanche. If you meet someone who has never been to Kenya, and knows very little about it; other than its lions, Safaris and beaches; well, you can be anything you like. Your first impression to them is their first impression of us. You can associate just about anything with being Kenyan. Once you’ve waded through the stereotypes that are already there, what stereotypes do WE reinforce?
Now this is where the stupidity begins. Mostly from my experience, we portray Kenyans as being: people who drink a lot (yes, this is true), people who like eating meat (also true) or people who drive really, really badly.(very, very true)
Evidently, I’m not disputing the above facts; I’m just wondering why we never portray more positive things. Most Kenyans are generous, kind, peaceful, friendly and welcoming. Good hosts. Loyal friends. Why don’t we disseminate these aspects instead?
Maybe it’s because positive stereotypes just aren’t fun to repeat. We all love saying that British people are uppity, French people are rude, Germans are precise, Nigerians are thieves, Jamaicans are always high and Americans are….always looking for stereotypes. But maybe it’s because no one attributes the positive aspects of themselves to being brought up in such an awesome place like Kenya. When in reality, we owe our individual greatnesses to our beloved country.
Be Kenyan. Be proud.
Editors Note: Q is the newest writer on the DR Roster. She’s UK based Kenyan with a very full passport and is probably smarter than you. No, really. She’s a genius. Welcome to the team.