Kenya is a great country and so are it´s citizens. As a Kenyan you only realise this after you leave the place and as much as you try hard to adapt to a new home, you dearly miss Kenya and Kenyans.
It is said, Go East, Go West home is Best, it had always been another cliché but now I understand every bit of that sentence. I am enjoying my life in Norway, but honestly I miss Kenya. I am sure now you are wondering what is this that makes me miss Kenya.
One, I have had some really nice family in Norway, but truth be told I miss my family members, I really do. My relatives and friends, just being there and knowing that they are within me, and I can see them whenever I want to. I miss hosting my friends over the weekends and having some really nice girls chat, visiting my aunties and having my weekend travel to see my parents. Norwegians are believed to be cold people, so as much as I get the friendship here, it is not the same. I miss the warmth, you know that kind of unconditional love you get from your dear ones, that´s what I am talking about.
In Norway, you rarely have visitors just popping in unless they are your fellow Africans. And what irritates me most is the fact that all the time I need my diary with me, because I have to keep noting down when, where and who I should be meeting at a given time. The same applies to when I want to invite someone, the first thing they do, is go for their diary to see whether they have any time to schedule my invitations. I miss being casual with my friends, waking up in the morning and inviting them over to my place or when they visit me even without prior arrangement.
Two, I miss Kenyan foods, Ugali, Chapati, Githeri, Kimanga, Mkimoo and more so Pilau. I love cooking so I have managed to cook some of these foods here, but somehow the taste is not the same. When I managed to get wheat floor to make Chapati, it is not my lovely Exe, that I would use back in Kenya. When I do the Pilau, I miss the really ingredients and it doesn´t feel like the original Pilau I am used to. At least for Ugali, I am happy my Ugandan colleague brought enough maize flour, so I work with that. Worst enough, I miss sukuma wiki and mchicha, I surely do! These you can be assured I have never seen them here. I miss the Nyama choma, Ugali and Kachumbari with my friends over the weekend. I have been trying out some new recipes and eating Norwegian foods, but I still feel the need to bond with my local food from Kenya.
“Some of the things you might notice are that Norwegians eat a lot of meatloaf, with mixed meat, they drink a lot of milk, the bread is dark, and you might have stomach problems in the beginning. Norwegians also eat a lot of fish. The food is quite expensive in Norway, so you have to consider this before going. Norwegians normally eat with fork, knife and spoon, rarely with their fingers, but sometimes with chop sticks (when eating Asian food),” an extract from a Norwegian site on culture. But then there are specific foods I love to eat with my fingers, so this one I have had a lot of adjusting to do.
Three, it´s Christmas season and lately I have been attending parties after parties and dinner invitations but honestly, it doesn´t feel the same. Norwegians are said to be cold in nature and during winter they get worse, so when you attend such kind of events, you miss those electrifying moments that Africans exhibit. I remember my dinners during the FK preparatory course and it was so evident that we Africans stole the show. The Norwegians will only be seen after one, two, many beers. Even in concerts, Norwegians will rarely be seen singing along or dancing with the musicians, something I consider very strange. That noise, that party mood and the wildness that Kenyans have, I really miss that. “I love the African energy, I love the dance flow in African countries and I don´t like this system where Norwegian girls rarely go to the dance flow and if you do, then there will be some people talking ill about you and saying you are showing off. It robs me off my happiness,” said a frowned Anna, a Norwegian who has lived in Uganda, Tanzania and visited Nairobi clubs.
Four, I enjoy my good laugh and love it loud as it can get. It is said some good laughter makes one young, maybe, maybe not. I am always used to my loud laughter but of late I am in the process of learning some good mannerisms, that you do not laugh too loud, keep it low. So how do I manage that?. Many are the times I find myself laughing and all the Norwegians turn around as if to ask “Gosh, who could that be?” and I am left feeling so ashamed. No casual jokes with Norwegians, not at all, because they are known to keep their words and take note of what they say, so they are very careful when they talk. I miss Kenyans and their jokes, they will crack jokes anywhere and anytime, woe unto you, do not do it here. That kind of serious life, I find it too draining, casual jokes, not their kind of thing.
Five, Norway is about order and organisation everywhere you go. I miss the chaotic life in Nairobi, some sort of disorganisation you know, some crowded lifestyle, people bumping into each other on the streets of Nairobi, loud hawkers in the evenings, and the drivers messing up during rush hours because of endless traffic jam. I miss the loud matatus hooting all over, every now and then. What happened to the by laws on air pollution in Nairobi that stated loud matatus and conductors will be fined, is it effective? Please keep me updated. The conductors pleading for passengers, and at times forcing you to pay twice simply because they forgot that they had charged you earlier. Here, you are either on time, if not, the bus leaves empty, and you have to take a while to get another one. Poor me, I am always running to the bus stop.
Six, on the same note about organisation at it´s best, I miss the African time mentality, that people can take all their time on earth to attend to a meeting and get away with it. I miss having people give explanations as to why they are late for appointments and even others who do not bother apologize at all. You can be assured punctuality is key here.
Seven, at the restaurants, malls and more so at the supermarkets, I miss being attended to. The sales girls at the supermarkets that I would find so irritating as they try to convince me to buy some promotional products, never imagined I could ever miss them. I miss someone packing for me my stuff at the supermarket, when I shop here I rarely get someone to consult regardless of the fact that most of the product information is in Norsk, and when I go to the counter, I still have to pack for myself. I miss the attendants who will pack for you and even volunteer to take the stuff for you out of the supermarket if you have a lot to carry. Most of the supermarkets here are operated by three to five people, so you rarely expect such services here. No chances of bargaining at all, it´s either you can afford it or you cannot. Things that I took for granted, I now appreciate them more.
“Please call me thank you” a common disease with Kenyan subscribers. I wish I could introduce that here. Incase one has no airtime and they miss you and they just want to say hi, or just want to pass time, I believe that is what most Kenyans do. They have absolutely abused the essence of the facility, but funny enough I miss receiving such texts. And it gets annoying when you call back just to find a faint voice “I was just saying hi” or even my small cousins saying “It´s me I stole mum´s phone, where are you at”. I never knew I could miss what I earlier termed as a some really annoying habit.
Nine, I miss the Kenyan media scene, be it TV or Radio, there’s always something crazy about it. Being a journalist, listening to radio and watching news on TV, are things I do on a daily basis. I miss the call-in shows especially callers on breakfast shows, with Nairobi women being crazy on Classic Fm´s breakfast show that leaves you thinking -do such people really exist in Kenya? I only understand very little Norsk and most of the broadcast is done in Norsk, meaning I can´t manage to fully follow any medium to the fullest. The same applies to newspapers and magazines, I miss the paper version of the Daily Nation and the Standard. As much as newspapers are always on my disposal here, I still imagine that I am missing out so much on the media around here. I have therefore resolved into reading online papers because these give me an option to translate into English. I am still working on understanding the language, so soon I will be able to listen, watch and read about the Norwegian media.
Still on the language barrier, this makes my 10th reason as to why I miss my motherland. It is crazy for me to keep explaining that I do not fully understand the language and I just don´t like seeing people apologizing for having spoken in Norsk after getting a blank response from me. So I find myself apologizing too, “Jeg beklager at jeg ikke snakker Norsk, jeg bare forstår veldig lite.” (I am sorry I don’t speak Norsk, I only understand very little of it.) I miss the moments, I would go for lunch and have some hearty laughter with my colleagues because we all could understand one another. Many are the times I feel at my lowest simply because, I can´t stop people from speaking their language and I don´t like it when they have to keep translating for me what is being said. Sometimes I have had my collegues volunteering to translate for me jokes from Norsk to English, and your guess is as good as mine. I miss the laughter first hand, and when I get it translated, it is of course stale and distorted. Speaking my Taita language, Swahili that I love most and listening to Nairobians´ converse in sheng, I truly miss that.
Oh, before I forget, the fact that I am a foreigner and a black for that matter, I can´t walk and have my peace. You are so noticeable and kids are always looking behind as if to confirm once more, who could that be, definitely from Africa, right? Yes, they are right. So many are the times I get branded, that Kenyan lady and wish, couldn´t they just stop that and call me Patience, period. It is always a reminder, I am representing AMWIK (Association of Media Women in Kenya) so whether I like it or not, they will brand me and of course I am black, Kenyan and an African.
Despite all this, the truth is, I am enjoying myself bigtime though I greatly miss Kenya and Kenyans. I am in the process of planning for my African tour early next year, unfortunately it is not in Kenya, sorry, so keep missing me because I do!.
Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!!