Mzangila

A letter to Kenyans Abroad

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A certain dude landed in JKIA on Thursday, jetting back to his roots for a thin vacation (how the cowboy said it), just two months. Two months! Thin! I thought he was kidding, or he even is, or even I am the dumber kid here not getting it. That aside, he is my friend’s friend’s friend. You see how I come into the picture? A fourth generation friend, to the lad. He is fairly 22, that is why he is a lad.

The first time our eyes met, I sensed something ectopic. His innumerable curses, of how cold it is here. It was and is still raining rakes and forks up in here in Central. His handshake is frail, a weakness you can notice from far without any contact, betraying him….lads don’t give firm handshakes, do they?

The evening of Boxing day found me at Sagana, going fishing, because the lad, now cowboy, said we should. The friend tagged his friend along, his friend tagged his friend along, and his friend tagged me along. What a friendship chain? Sounds more of a masterplan, to cover up for our nose for cowboys who just landed.

Five dudes, semi-naked, get a boat and go out fishing, barely comfortable because majority of the conversation is curled in little, scraggy english curve balls. A number of us are struggling with the lingo, we don’t want him to be left behind. He has quickest amnesia, he forgot swahili….after measly 5 years. Just five years, and what your swahili professors taught you for nearly 16 years is gone. Totally. Flashed out, down the toilet like an aborted embryo.

It didn’t take four days before he stuck up my nasal cavity and got me kicking for air. He is such a killjoy. As I sat somewhere, in a dainty joint, with the third generation pal who also got sick of cowboy, it hit me I needed to address this issue…

 

Dear Kenyans abroad,

It is high time we divide the chaff from the finest. As much as you are representing us abroad, and also contributing some dough to our economy, we have a few flaws we need to smoothen.

AIMLESS WALKS AND TRIPS

we understand that you are on vacation, and perhaps came along with Santa to give out Christmas gifts. We apprecitate that. But we ain’t on vacation. We will try our best to take you around to popular joints and places you have been dreaming of and saved up for all those 5 years, elephants, lions, maasai morans, you name it. But we can’t do that everyday. We have jobs and deadlines to meet, we have kids to get to school, mouths to feed, write ups to do, personal moments, girlfriends to take out (and you can’t be there, just two of us).

 

Getting a long face because we were on other activities instead of taking you to Mara River to watch freaking toads mate, is not an exquisite gesture. We are busy, and just because you landed from Dublin or Michigan or wherever doesn’t put life to an end. Life was going on even while you were away. Appreciate our efforts when we take time out of our busy schedules to take you to Maasai market to see maasai artefacts,shukas, regallia and culture, even when you end up buying nothing. Africa, especially Kenya is full of busy people.

SHIT IS EXPENSIVE

Hell yeah, two tomatoes cost the hell ten bob. I mean we are used to that.  Eating in the city restaurants daily is not for people like you. KFC, McDonald’s and the likes are not for you, not in Kenya. When you get into KFC and 4k sleeps away as you leave on an empty stomach with a pile of whines, know that there are people who eat there daily and never complain that they have been robbed. Everything is damn expensive, and we are used to it.

TRAFFIC

There is heavy jam on Uhuru highway, you haven’t been to Ngong Road ye,t where it snakes all the way to Ronga. And your eyes would pop out if you kept looking, in there you sleep, call all your friends, take snaps of the jam and upload them on fb for your peeps majuu to get the shit you dragged yourself into, listen to music, get tired and sleep and wake up again before you move another 50metres.

 

You should know we are proud. Vehicles. A lot of cars. All those belong to some individuals. The last time you were here only KBS buses existed. But now, people have grown filthy rich. And hey, the roads. They are smooth, isn’t that development enough? And the skycrappers? The malls?

If you get irritated, hit the road. No trains. No trams.

SPIRALING FINANCIAL NEEDS

No matter how much we earn, every time we have people from majuu we have to find new financial needs. Its what makes us typical. Suddenly we become broke. We understand that five years is a long time, and you have made enough dollars. We also know plain white that a dollar is far superior to our Kenyan shilling. On average, we know you are full, you have the dough, and you are the saviour to our recurring and spiralling financial needs.

The whole village will come to see you. You are their investment. Now, they are entitled to be given something, all of them. It is our Kenyan art of welcoming back our relatives, friends and strangers. And you have to pay for that energy, effort and time they will invest in you. Next time put that in your budget- The village gang.

CHANGE

Everything else has undergone a drastic transformation. What do you expect? Five years we couldn’t stand on top of Mt. KENYA till you return and implore us to climb down.

Dudes got married, girls got married, even your lovely ex whom you expected to suprise, people got kids, jobs got kicking, affluence caught up with people, electricity lit up majority of homesteads, up to the streets, people built castles. Life moved on. You did move on, didn’t you? Why then expect that things wouldn’t?

Well, the knives back at the village might have bent tips for multitasking as screwdrivers to unbolt radio screws often, but still we haven’t had stomach problems.

IPHONES

I had a cousin, a sunny bunny cowboy, of mine who couldn’t use his Iphone 5 in the streets of Nairobi because he thinks still people get hooked in the streets. A worthless gem all day in the pocket.

They don’t understand that we can even carry our expensive stereos and listen to them in the streets without fear of throatslitting business. People own expensive shit in Kenya, and they use it without fear or favour.

Why do you have to be paranoid about your fellow bros? What did they do to you that you can’t forgive them? They aren’t thugs. Even if they were, give him a couple of dollars and he wouldn’t care knowing what is in your pockey. They  are just hustling brother. Don’t they do that in Harlem? Don’t they hijack people, turn them upside down and get away with even their handkerchief? At least here we leave you in one peace.

BACK HOME

Your name is Ogucha. How is Ogucha associated in any way with US. You were born in the heart of Nyamira town, in some village. After five years you are resenting even your birth place. Did any of your folks originate from River Mississipi? They are all here, including your siblings.

This is your home kid, where people walked barefooted, drink uji right from the sufuria, while others drink milk right from a cow’s udder.

We may be crazy, and absurd, but that is what defines us. And we are your people, not the white man with his croocked nose. You belong here. The scholarship they gave you was not to brainwash you, but help you get a good education and return home to work.

So this shit about ….back home..should stop. Kwani where are you now? Hell?

Go east or west, finally your bones will be carried back to your cradleland.

ACCENT

Again we get it. That you might have garnered a different accent for sure. But why do you have to accentuate even swahili or kisii, as if indenting it with that accent makes us listen  better; worse than plain potato soup.

Leave it at Jkia or JF Kennedy. They will keep it safe for you. All that mire, we loathe it.

SHUT YOUR MOUTH!

We want to listen to your stories,the experiences, the education system majuu, the parties, and the lot. We want to listen it into the night. But sometimes we want to be silent. We want peace. We had a long day, one that can only be cured by inserting our heads in the freezer for a fortnight. But since we have come up with an even easier way to heal, don’t try to kill our invention, please. It took us all those five years to get around it. And your uncanny habit of acting horn bill might just end humanity in this end.

When we are silent and withdrawn, talking is not the solution to our problems…like you do majuu. Just shut your mouth or even do some Itunes from that expensive gadget of yours.

APPETITE

American food might have assimilated you so badly. Again we understand that. We understand that you live in McDonalds and KFC.  And you pretty sure that last time you were in Africa such stuff wasn’t around.

Now that you are here, you didn’t carry it with you. Well, we have it. But the shit is expensive and if you discover it you might start living on breadcrumbs, we know that. By flying here you had somethin at the back of your mind, I miss African dishes. The first day you face ugali head on you produce that ugly sneer that a cat wears when it sees a dog, what is your game? What games are you playing boy? We can’t bake you fries or burgers or chicken, you can’t eat a chicken alone, its a family affair.

Next time, African dishes will scare you, if at all ugali appetite got depleted that when you see it you wanna prosecute it.

Or just save more dollars for better meals.

We can’t stand Africans who can’t stand their own food just because they’ve been in a whiteman’s country for a few years. We call you sellouts.

So, we stand tall. We emphasize that you have to behave. Africa is Africa because of you. If you give it up, it will no longer be Africa for you, it will be for us who were left behind to keep the elephants safe so that next time you find something worth to spend your fortune upon.

Step up, you have screwed us for long, and own the shit!

Yours furiously

MZANGILA

 

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About Mzangila

Mentor, media consultant, photographer, editor, poet, writer, and counselor.

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