The challenges of being a foreigner in Kenya…

Good day, folks! It’s been some long time since I last wrote anything here. While am sorry for the abnormal absence, I’ve to say that it’s been a tough time at the school, field assignments, term papers, to name a few. As I was pondering over what to write next, I quickly recalled the ups and downs I’ve had in Kenya since I moved in more than a year ago.

Finding yourself in a foreign land almost stranded without the close-ones you grew up with can be frustrating b’se you get to see others as being aliens and worst of all, you fear socializing with them b’se you know there are so many differences between you and them than you realized before. The beautiful Kenya is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world and in the cosmopolitan capital Nairobi alone, you get to meet all kinds of culture-crazed people and you wonder which way to go with!

Another hurdle has been the struggle to contain my loneliness and boredom b’se since am no longer with the close people I’m used to being with and this all feels like being on Mars where everything around you is completely strange! Sometimes I may try to spend a great deal of time in public places hoping to catch up with a congenial Kenyan but I guess my anti-social attitude is to blame. So all I do is to cozy up in my crib, get on to the internet and try to get myself occupied, otherwise, I’d have to die of boredom b’se its kinda unbearable!

I’ve always yearned to explore Kenyan life beyond its cosmopolitan capital but to no avail due to my poor knowledge of Swahili. Kenyans are a special people who pride themselves in their traditions but the ‘glocalization’ concept has also helped them to adjust their lifestyles to suit the changing global trends including regular interactions with foreign visitors. In Nairobi, almost everyone speaks perfect English but this isn’t the case in the countryside but you’ll find a few ones able to speak it well, at least better than in Tanzania. So if in case find myself among Swahili speakers, the only thing I do is to keep quiet and get lost into myself b’se even radios and TV stations are principally airing in local languages.

The level of curiosity among Kenyans is beyond one’s imagination. During my first few months, I had all signs of being a newcomer all over me, from asking for directions, inability to speak Swahili, possessing foreign documents, even by my facial looks, many were able to recognize me as a non-Kenyan. So whenever they found out so, they’d ask me all sorts of questions with a determined inquisitive look like; For how long have you been here? How do you find Kenya? How can you compare the living standards in Kenya and Uganda? What are you doing here? What Kenyan food do you like most? For how long do you intend to stay here? and so many others. When it became unbearable, I had to get some Kenyan-branded stuff and wear them to assimilate into the Kenyan culture, so it reduced. Generally speaking, I’d get to think that each of the folks who asked me these questions deserves to work as an immigration officer for the love of their country is so indisputable!

Well, when it comes to finances, all of us may get a little confused when it’s our first time to use a foreign currency and where your mother currency isn’t in use. Without the handy currency converters, it’d have been worse and the currency exchange guys would have to take us for a long ride. Every time before you spend any money, you’ve to pull out a converter to learn how much in comparison with your home currency you’re gonna spend. The given rates will tell you whether the price is affordable or not b’se you don’t wanna get cheated, right. I did this in the first few months, but now yeah, I no longer need to do that.

Except for the above few challenges, my stay in Kenya has been a lot better than initially expected b’se I feel more of a Kenyan than before and the presence of many Ugandans here has made me not feel a loner anymore. I can buy some Ugandan-made stuff in several Nairobi shops to feel attached to my home, but the trick has been to get along with the tide b’se not doing so would have only kept me in perpetual solitude and misery. Kenya is now my main home and I don’t see myself moving anywhere so soon b’se I look, sound, and behave Kenyan in everything I do. So yeah, the challenges were there at the onset but thank goodness, the ice ceiling has been broken and am really lovin’ it here!!

 

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