Monday, April 23, 2012

My Kenyan alter-ego

Ever since I went to Kenya for the first time, I have been imagining what my Kenyan alter-ego would be like. I have many Kenyan friends, most of which I met in the USA. I actually have more Kenyan friends who've returned to Kenya after sojourns abroad than for all other African countries. Like one friend said, "As for Kenyans, we move back". "I'm coming home, narudi nyumbani". So after Ayooluwaato Eze from Nigeria and Richard Nshuti Mayanja from Uganda, I introduce to you all David Ochieng Mwangi.

Yes, you heard it right. What a strange set of names? Kweli. Lakini kuona. My father is from the biggest tribe in Kenya, the Kikuyu. During my time abroad, most of the Kenyans I met were Kikuyu too. We're a proud people but you will always see us speak Sheng to feel as Kenyan as possible (instead of Kikuyu). Mwangi is a popular name you say. Yes, I am related to every popular Kenyan Mwangi you might know. We run deep mabibi na mabwana.

My mother is Luo. My father didn't mean to "raile" up any Kikuyu family members by marrying a "Luya", he wanted Umoja. I inherited my "umbwogable" nature from her. The violence after the Kenyan election was a trying time for our families but the aftermath and the unity goverment was a joyful time for us as well. But enough with that, because my parents did the impossible, they gave me a first name they thought summed up the possibility of doing the impossible, David. Yeah, remember Goliath. I have some bullish attitude that says I can do anything, and my Kenyan people share that on various levels.


Because I haven't lived in Kenya for most of my life, my Swahili is not that great and my Sheng is almost non-existent. I might be one of 254 young Kenyans whose Swahili is better than his Sheng. If you are like me, you need to spend more time in Nairobi and Mombasa.
I can't speak Swahili that well because my father is a diplomat and I didn't stay in East Africa too long to learn the language. If you are asking about my Luo, you are too demanding. You're talking like I lived in Kenya and Nakumatt sells Kenyan language "teach-yourself" packs. Or do they?

The only school I attended in Kenya was GreenSteds International School, before my father's travels sent me to Tanzania, South Africa, and Ghana. All these places had varying levels of Kenyans but my time in the US saw the most Kenyan engagement for me. I remember those "nyama choma" gatherings, the pombe competitions, and the marathon watching parties. My college tried to get me to run long-distance for them. I didn't want to embarass my people. The college authorities didn't seem to understand that these "runners" were busy earning "shillings" all over the world and were not trotting near any American tertiary institutions.

But yea, you also know we do love our Tusker. It's lovely to see how far Tusker has traveled, it stands as the official African beer in the Diaspora. We've taken our drinking prowess everywhere. I'm surprised we don't have as many Kenyans in Ireland and Germany. Maybe they deny the beer-drinking competition visas ;-) Don't see us as drunkards at all because we can get pretty serious. Learn about things like Kuweni Serious where #KenyaDecides to show love for the nation. We love supporting Kenyan business.
If This Country Burns, We Burn With It.

Nairobi (when it's not Nairobbery) is surely the best African city to visit. Yes, because you can see antelopes running near hotels. But that's not why I want you to "safiri hapa". Safaris and game parks are nice, but the social scene in Nairobicity is great. "Huku Nairobi, we like to party". If you are a carnivore, you will love Kenya. We have "game" meat of various kinds, you are sure to taste some meat you never got in your country. Yet still, vegetarians can still find a Harambe home in my country since it is home to many tourists and mzungus from all walks of life.

There is also so much ingenuity in Kenyan people. Nairobi is Africa's innovation capital. There are always stories of new inventions, innovations and ingenuity. Why trouble about never taking Kenya Airways when we can build planes in our front yards? Our youth redefine "African electronics". You might have heard how cows are especially important in Kenyan culture, so tracking them with mobile phones is a service that's extremely important. Stories such as this make the iHub in Nairobi a very important tourist destination if you love technology and innovation. Kenya is full of tech people, so it's no surprise I am a computer programmer. :-)

if (location is Kenya)
{
person.say("Ninaitwa David Ochieng Mwangi!");
}
else
{
person.say("Mimi, ni Ato");
}

So next time you meet David Ochieng Mwangi, that will be me. And I'm not on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. I normally use some other guy's profile to stalk all the pretty Kenyan (and Somalian) girls from time to time. Kenyan ladies rock my socks. You can catch always me here on this blog. Kenyans move back like quoted here, so "I'm coming home, home where I belong" like the musician who will remain Nameless sang.
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