Adjusting to the Culture


  How I have come to be Kenyan…

  • I say things like “I want to alight at the next stop”, “I’m going for holiday”, “Do you take chai?”, and “whoa, you look smart!”
  • People compare my American friend’s accent to mine, saying I sound like a Kenyan.
  • I argue with matatu tout
  • I drink chai at least twice a day
  • My favorite food is chapati
  • I eat chicken bones, matumbo, and omena
  • I am increasingly meeting people I know on the streets
  • My mathare kids no longer call me mazungu, its Teacher Kaylie!
  • I can eat street food and not get sick
  • I can walk on a matatu, know where I am going, pay the tout and then get off at my stop without saying a single word to anyone.
  • I walk out in front of oncoming traffic
  • walking is the most efficient transportation
  • I know how to cut a mango
  • When someone tells me they are going to “flash” me I don’t hide my eyes
  • The first price given is never the price I pay
  • I’ve abandoned my proper Tanzanian Swahili roots and am adopting Shang instead
  • I wash my own clothes
  • Most of my friends are Kenyan, not American


How I am definitely not Kenyan…

  • Ugali is not all it’s cracked up to be
  • I dont consider a stack of five bread slices a meal
  • I dont understand Swahili well
  • I do not wear sweaters when the temperature is in the 70’s
  • I am not scared of rain messing up my hair
  • It would be the death of me to drink changa
  • I am not scared of dogs
  • I wear sunglasses
  • I am bluntly honest and have no problem telling people “no”
  • when I am introducing myself I don’t say “Hi, I am Kaylie and I am born again.”
  • My daily schedule exceeds the amount of things humanly possible to do in one day- which is any more than two!
  • I am not at all intrigued by Nigerian Soaps or movies and think they are pretty hokey.
  • I consider it a bad thing when people tell me I’m “getting fat.”
  • If someone tells me to finish my food I will do the opposite and feel insulted.
  • I do not avoid cold drinks and do not think cold drinks cause illnesses
  • I like to talk to people on the street, asking for money, and have made some friends this way

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