Monday, September 19, 2011

Nigerian Drunks and Other Things I Have No Buisness Writing About

Hello esteemed readers,

So I have been in Nairobi about a week and things are…interesting.

First off I had no idea my leaving in the middle of the night without saying anything and then returning unannounced as if nothing had happened would cause such a splash. Who knew, eh?

No but seriously every day I get yelled at. Yelled at well getting my coffee, going to the library, waiting for a matatu, etc. But in a good way.

Being back has really gotten me present to how much I love Kenya. I let all the nastiness of first semester cloud my judgment and forgot how amazing it can be here. I had this epiphany as my head was slamming into the ceiling of my matatu.

The interesting thing about this semester is I have interaction with the exchange students which makes me weirdly uncomfortable. I’m so used to being the only white American around and now I know so many- am I not special anymore - but the weird thing is when I want to explain something to one of them I have no idea how.

First off I don’t want to come off as a know it all bitch. “Oh I’ve been living here for over a year, I know everything, la deed a”. No one likes that girl.

The thing is sometimes they say things or do things that just feel so inherently wrong and I can’t explain why.

The second thing is who am I to explain a culture not my own to them? Isn’t that a bit arrogant to assume I know more then them? Or that they can’t learn it themselves?

Can anyone really know another culture?

Not to mention I have no business as I seem to be getting myself into enough trouble so I have no business giving advice.

Thus the title.

One of the things that kind of embarrasses me, and this sounds silly, is that I’m a parrot. I tend to adapt pretty quickly to my environment adopting the accent, gestures, etc. the problem, you ask?

Well I sound like kind of an asshole.

When I’m speaking Swahili and my accent mimics Kenyans that all fine and dandy but what about my English; if I replace “stop that” with “we we” or I adopt the African accent and drop pronouns like my peers am I adopting their culture or am I just a dick? Also what does it mean for my culture back home?

I’m kind of struggling for an identity all the time because as much as I don’t want to lose my home, I also want to blend in with my friends and a place I consider home.

I guess the question is really who the hell do I think I am?

The past summer at home was more about facing my past so I could move forward, so now that I’m at this magic healthy move forward place where shall I go? Is it in an African direction or do I move back towards the west?

Last Friday I was at a bar and a very drunk man approached me as I lit my cigarette. He came up and told me how light my skin was (um, really?) and asked how I got it. Now I have no idea why I said the next thing I said.

Nikko point 5

Meaning I am half black half white.

I then proceeded to convince him in Swahili and sheng that my mother was a white and my father a Kenyan and blah blah.

Now I will say that he was pretty drunk and the club was very dark but I was actually quite proud of myself. First because of the Swahili but second because I’d been able to convince someone that I belonged in that bar, that I wasn’t an outsider.

Except why did I feel like I needed to be African to have a right to be in that bar? I had friends there, who know I’m not at all black, I had a drink, and I could dance damnit! Why did I feel the need to lie?

I kind of feel like betrayed my family and friends and culture back in Chicago by lying. There’s nothing to be ashamed of, so why make things up?

Of course it was pretty cool.

The next one should be written from the mission!!



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