Another really looong post….. :-p
I grew up as a ghetto Barbie if any such term exists (Of course if anyone insinuates that am a Barbie I would vehemently brush off that accusation with my perfectly manicured nails and insist that I am a G!!) As such I had an extremely twisted childhood. This was the case scenario. I lived in the hood in a village somewhere all dust and rivers, however, my very educated parents insisted on queens English, perfect diction and exemplary vocabulary, which in the hood translated into a ‘wengist with confusing speech. Furthermore, my mother, being the proper lady she is, taught me to culture pride and dignity whenever I dealt with the male species, which in the hood translated into me being a snob with an attitude problem.
On the other hand, I went to what one could call an uptown school, and here too there was a wee bit of a problem. You see most of the girls who went to the schools which I attented could be classified as rich spoilt brats, but I hailed from an average income family, you could call it middle class, so I didn’t quite fit into the typical elitist group.
So as clearly outlined above there was a conflict of interest. I was stuck between two worlds and couldn’t quite fit in either. But I got through it and grew up, albeit must admit I gravitated kidogo towards the Barbie side of life. My heart however is still in the village and as I look back am greatful for the village experiences which made me who I am today. Those are the experiences that truly formed my Kenyan childhood.
I can honestly and unabashedly say that I am truly Kenyan because I; drank maziwa ya nyayo, fished for tadis in a mtaro, went for dufo mpararo, played games which had all sorts of weird names like kati, bano and kalongo, climbed trees and chased monkeys, ate raw bananas even when my mum told me not too, then suffered a horrible running stomach for two days straight, attempted to smoke papers, raced with cars made out of wires, grew up having my backside whooped thoroughly every time I did something wrong and even when I didn’t in anticipation of me doing something wrong, sang all sorts of weird catchy jingles like “shumakia” and “John kibogoyo” which I cant quite remember nowadays, went to school in bata shoes and at some point in my life wore bata bullets and sandaks, played “brikicho” half my childhood and still have no idea how to spell or pronounce that word, never address anyone older than me by their names but as mama so and so or, baba so and so, auntie or uncle, always use two personal pronouns consecutively e.g. “Me I” or “Us we” or “Them they”, remember VoK when transmission started and 4.00pm and ended at midnight, used to always rushed home after school to watch cartoons like Danger mouse, smurfs, gargoyles, gummy bears, care bears and captain planet.
To cap it all (drum roll please)…… festivities!!! I remember how festivities always came and went with a bang, the biggest shebang of them all being Christmas. LOL!! Christmas!! I get all nostalgic thinking about how Christmas used to be. To begin with all the Nairobians would troop to shags baggage and all to celebrate the occasion with the rest of the family. Yes, Christmas in Kenya has always been a family affair. On the day itself, every Tom Dick and Harry would pull out their Sunday best for the occasion, chapo would be cooked like there was no tomorrow and the chicken! Wololo! There was not a single chicken which slept at ease on 24th because they all sensed the impending doom. All the kids would have the time of their lives chasing the chicken willy-nilly across the compound on Christmas morning until two or three really nice and fat ones had been caught and those would be stewed to perfection to accompany the chapo, pilau, mukimo and whatever else had been cooked. And who can forget the nyama-choma?!! Those delicious roasted ribs and that mutura which you know you can only find in Kenya and nowhere else.
I could go on and on but I guess it will suffice to say that no matter where I go or how westernized my lifestyle becomes these will always be the experiences that I cherish. And am sure most Kenyans reading this are smiling and nodding, their experiences might not be a carbon copy of mine but at some base level they are similar.