Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m as African as Shaka Zulu, but I do have a great friend of mine named Keith (creator of meetkenyans.com)who is like a brother to me. I decided to ask him to do a guest post on what it’s like for him traveling in Africa and here it is. So a big thanks to Keith and enjoy the post.
I feel that it was important that every African reading this has the right in knowing what was my African experience, and thank you for allowing me to express that experience here on this platform.
These are just some of my experiences in Africa, as time goes on my experiences will continue to grow.
My experience(s) are not singular by any means and I really do not know where to start, so please bear with me as I will not be able to remember everything.
It all started when I came to Kenya in July of 2006, to be married to my now wife of over 81⁄2 years.
In regards to privacy and respecting my wife’s wishes, I will not include our relationship as part of my African experience, even though it was my wife who was responsible for my experience to Africa in the very beginning.
To begin, the air was different, cleaner than the air in the United States, even though I had arrived in Nairobi which is known for its pollution due to heavy traffic congestion.
It was easier for me to breathe the air and when we left Nairobi for Nanyuki that sits almost at the base of Mt Kenya, the air was even more refreshing.
Even though Nanyuki is a semiarid location do to the locals cutting the trees to make charcoal over the course of 20 plus years, it was still easier to breathe the air.
The equator runs through Nanyuki town as it does in many other locations within Kenya.
The sun sets in Kenya shines differently than it does in America, the colour of the sun is different, and from my observation the sun looks to be closer in proximity when comparing the same sun in America.
The first few days I had observed paper and plastic blowing in the wind that littered the roads, walkways, and ditches.
I was saying to myself unconsciously, I do not want to live here, knowing for a long time I have wanted to leave America do to many legitimate reasons.
Although by the third day I changed my mind still observing the rubbish blowing in the wind, and said to myself, I can and do want to live here.
The reasons were very clear over the course of a few days.
It was the Kenyans themselves who made that clarification, and it was a sign from God that I need to move to Kenya.
This was not an average reason why an “mzungu” would make the decision to move somewhere within Africa, I am almost a unique case for my reasons in doing so.
For me, I had finally found my people and I needed to live among them, they have in some ways saved my life, saving me from my own self destruction.
Although unfortunate, Americans are not my people.
Kenyans have shown me what I thought I had lost many years ago, and unconsciously did not realise I was still looking for it many years later.
Kenyans and Africans in the Diaspora have shown me they know the secrets to humanity even if some did not know themselves.
I will not go into detail why the West does not know what humanity even is, but you will read soon enough why Africans do, and this is in no way a list of every reason as to why.
When I visited homes in Nanyuki and Nairobi, Kenyans without fail would bring you drinks and or food without asking you if you wanted anything to begin with.
Even if they already knew they needed these necessities more than I did, they did it anyway.
Selflessness was paramount in interacting with them and observing that giving is more important to their culture than just taking; where as all Western societies are in the habit of taking rather than giving.
Hospitality is off the scale, nowhere have I been treated like a real human being, by people who treat themselves in the same manner daily.
I am not talking about as a tourist who is being waited on by some Hotel staff.
I am talking about everyday interactions within personal homesteads and out in public.
Everyone shakes hands; you do not go without shaking someone’s hand as this is a huge part of their culture.
In America you can only shake hands if you ask for it in a manner of speaking or in a business setting, or just to fake your way through meetings or social gatherings.
I never really knew what politeness was until I came to Kenya, there is no denying their politeness is a part of their nature.
I have experienced this same level of politeness from all Africans of all nations throughout the Diaspora.
Politeness is a very beautiful thing to behold, because it brings out the genuine happiness and laughter when coming together with friends and family.
Although unfortunate, this does not happen in America.
The hello’s you receive from strangers on the streets are genuine, many Kenyans stare at me when in public, either they will initiate or I will initiate a greeting of hello.
Their smiles are bigger than life and genuine.
Americans complain that Africans do not smile when walking in public and like to claim that Africans are not happy with their lives, on the contrary, they are going about their business and if you interact they are happier than the Americans.
Unfortunately in America, this does not happen but on rare occasions, genuinely speaking that is.
Children in Kenya are happier than American children.
In America, children may play and have fun, but it is only “some” fun as children in the United States are not as happy as Kenyan children.
American children are stressed up much like the adults.
They are trained not to trust adults or even other children, due to the fact that Americans do not trust one another as they are trained to do so from one generation to another.
In Kenya, children are all too excited to see you, not just because I am mzungu, but also their neighbours and family with the same level of excitement they show me and with other children of their own age group.
Adults in Kenya have a real interest in you as a person, not just as a visitor.
I see it all the time within my own Kenyan community and other communities as they communicate with one another as neighbour knows neighbour, in others words a real sense of community.
Although unfortunate, this does not happen in America.
Racism, well no one gives a dame about black or white, just do not use racism like theft against another otherwise you will regret it.
No one here in Kenya waste their time with racism.
Racism can be treated just like stealing against another fellow Kenyan, as Kenyans judge by ones own character, not their colour and I see many times where Westerners come to Kenya and act racist towards Kenyans when most do not even live here.
In my experience with some Kenyans who have high hopes and dreams about coming to America or even the UK.
The fallacy about America being the land of the free, this is far from the truth.
The land of milk and honey, streets made of gold, and that there is so much money, that money is literally falling from the trees.
When I tell them the truth that all these things are not true, and tell them America is an extremely difficult place to survive, in addition bringing up the fact that many Kenyans residing in America are struggling.
They rather believe the fairytale about America rather than the truth.
Americans themselves like to believe that everybody wants to be like them, on the contrary.
Some Kenyans or other Africans do not want to come to America, if they do, many do not want to become like Americans when they arrive, rather they want to work or just attend school or both.
Many Americans believe African(s) are all simple minded people, because of their kind nature.
What they do not know, is that many they encounter may have a PhD, and they treat visitor(s) just as kind natured as their socalled simple minded counterparts.
To clear the air, there is nothing wrong with a simple minded person. Americans do not live by any moral code.
Americans are always judging and calling other people simple minded when the Americans themselves have not figured out the answers to life.
Nor have Americans throughout their own history have been able to solve their own problems, which include the collection of all Western nations.
After our wedding, many times I have received the same dumb arse questions that every African will be asked once they have moved to the West.
Example, “do Kenyans and or Africans wear any cloths?”
Not to mention, they ask me other questions that Africans are not being asked, such as; “are you not worried about catching “AIDS” now that you are married to an African?”
I get these dumb arse questions from both white and black American(s), and believe it or not Asians ask the same kinds of dumb arse questions.
Before I even came to Kenya, and got to know my wife long before we married, I realised that African moral values matched my own personal moral values.
Realising this fact I knew I was an African and not just another Kenyan by marriage months later.
With all the negative Western media regarding Africa by programming people in the West through cartoons to Tarzan, about how helpless or
hopeless Africa is, you find out soon enough that this is a bunch of bullocks!
However, almost all Westerners coming to Africa for 2 to 3 years leave Africa just as ignorant as they were when they arrived.
These people have no business anywhere in Africa, doing charity work, being employed, or even doing business.
They never once learned about the people that makeup Africa during their stay.
Africa is not just about “Safari’s, resources, or the Maasai warriors,” it is also about technology, doctors, pilots, family values, and a whole array of different culture(s) like nowhere else on Earth.
I have to give it up to “Trevor Noah” of South Africa, for calling out the Western media by holding them accountable for their actions.
Such as to why is there always a fly on someone’s face in commercials explaining to a Western audience about how poor the Africans are in Africa.
As he points out and begs the question, where are the flies in Africa?
I have to side with Trevor, and conclude that all my years in Kenya, I have seen flies, but they are not attached to our faces.
I have had some negative experiences in Kenya, but not too many and nothing like the negative experiences in America the way Americans treat themselves and others who are not American.
What you will not see in Kenya is the ass of drugs and drug addictions, out of control teenage pregnancies, racist behaviours, disrespecting the elders, murders are out of control, and I could go on.
Although unfortunate, that is common place among Americans in America.
What I have realised from the very beginning and throughout the years, there are more positive attributes about Kenya and Africa as a whole, than there are negative ones.
Although unfortunate, this is not true in America and the collection of Western countries as a whole.
NOTE:Keith created meetkenyans.com for Kenyans to have a voice in telling their own stories, through their own words, using their own voice. Please check it out!