5 Laughable Things Foreigners Assume About Kenyans

Foreigners Assume These 5 Bad Things

Globalization brought about innumerable positive changes in the world. We now live in a global “village.” You can interact with another person located hundreds of thousands of miles away at the click of a button. Think about Skype, Whatsapp, Facebook etc.

If the world wasn’t in the globalization era, we would be as ignorant as dirt about other cultures and countries, and vice versa. For example, how would we ever know the Chinese eat cats and dogs? How would we know Americans love hurting themselves doing stunts? How would we know Nigerians love fufu? Or How would we relate to Narcos?

Image source: standardmedia.co.ke

In spite of the tools available at our disposal, which we are capable of utilizing to learn about other cultures, many people across the world still don’t know about other cultures. There are a lot of things some foreigners think about Kenyans that are outright hilarious. You have probably come across some and can relate to them.

1. Majority of the Kenyans are Destitute

I don’t know where this weird perception came from. I was talking to a client of mine a while back and the client actually thought I was destitute. I sometimes write for clients and the client thought I was doing my job because I am impoverished. The client must have thought I was in a crack house somewhere; no shelter, no clothing, or something of the sort.

Sometimes, foreigners expose their ignorance regarding the Kenyan culture and assume EVERY Kenyan lives below a dollar a day. It would explain why images about Kenya on social media typically involve a malnourished child in the middle of a desert holding an empty bowl. I understand that hunger is real, but it wouldn’t also hurt to show the beauty of Kenya. Kenyan people are industrious, full of hope, full of care for each other, intelligent, and warm. There’s much more to Kenya. Kenyans are united. Remember that time Kenyans shared images of Nairobi to remind the world that we are a proud nation; I think it was about Snapchat coming to the country. Apparently, some country thought we did not deserve to have Snapchat. They were questioning Snapchats entry into the Kenyan market. The nerve!

Image source: Kenyan snapchat

Here’s the Truth: Kenyans are not destitute; they have regular jobs like anyone else in any other country. We love people. We feed our hungry when we come together.

2. Kenyans Don’t Know English

Again, this is another misconstrued notion foreigners have about Kenyans. I was interacting with a foreigner for the first time and we had some time to chat. So, in the middle of the tête-à-tête, the guy whips out his phone and asks to transfer some files to my laptop. I halfheartedly obliged. What followed was like a kick in the nuts. The said files were short movie clips of an English animation film. “This will really help you learn English,” he said. I reserve the comments that went through my head at that time. I was taken aback and almost laughed. Further, the guy was actually surprised Kenyans have laptops! He was elated that he had Ksh. 100,000 in the bank and it was really itching his pockets. He was charged up for a night out and was willing to take me as his wing man to paint the town red. He wanted to show me how it’s done back in the U.S. of A.

Source: Adelina’s blog

Many of the friends I have interacted with have mentioned that foreigners think we don’t know English. Thankfully, globalization is slowly changing this mentality and many people across the world now know Kenyans are articulate. Take Obama for example, he was a good ambassador for Kenya. He showed the world what true Kenyan blood is about. Lupita Nyong’o; please tell these people that we understand English well well?

Here’s the Truth: Many Kenyans have impeccable English

3. Kenyans Can Relate to Slavery and Racism

Slavery is an emotive issue in foreign countries, and especially in the U.S.A.  African Americans bear the brunt of racist attacks up to this day; listen to Jay Z. I was talking to a friend of mine who is African American, and our conversation revealed the delicate intricacies of an African American mind as far as different cultures are concerned. He was supportive about my work and as is the norm, gave me a tip which I was highly thankful for. His reply was, “Sure man! For the brothers. Anything for a fellow brother!”

Image source: blavity.com

As we all know, Kenyans were colonized by British, but African Americans were slaves for the longest time and many of them lost their lives in the civil war. Many Kenyans cannot even begin to fathom what slavery was like during that period. We only learn of those tumultuous times from the history books. I totally get it, slaves taken to America were extracted from Africa, but we still do not understand what it’s like to be discriminated against by white people on a daily basis. We have tribalism in Kenya, and even though it resembles racism in some aspects, I tend to think racism is much more intense because it affects every day living. Kenyans are black; but only a few of them understand slavery and racism.

Here’s the Truth: Kenyans can relate to racism; but do not truly understand the impact of racism and slavery. It is not a common topic that brushes the mouths of Kenyans in their daily discussions. However, we feel what African Americans and other Africans go through in foreign countries and wish this damn racism would end already.

4. Kenyans paying rent below $500 live in appalling conditions

Some foreigners think Kenyan housing is in a deplorable state. Rent in developed countries is typically high because jobs generally pay well. Therefore, it is understandable that a foreigner would be shell shocked to hear some Kenyans pay $100 to $200 in rent a month, equivalent to Ksh.10, 000 to Ksh.20, 000 a month. Such housing is relatively affordable for the middle class and is actually decent by all standards. Maybe that’s the reason foreigners opt to live in exorbitant apartments when they are in the country.

Image source: patauza.co.ke

Here’s the Truth: A significant part of the Kenyan housing below $500 a month in rent has excellent amenities.

5. Kenyans do not Know Anything

Many foreigners have the misunderstood notion that Kenyans do not have talent or skills. As previously mentioned, racism is an everyday battle in some foreign countries. Generations of families grow up believing in the wrong things. Let me put this into context.

I had taken a trip to the beautiful Mombasa County. There was a Frisbee game slated for the weekend and I was among the supporters/fans. A Kenyan team was playing against some foreigners. That day, the Kenyan team was annihilating the foreigners on the beach. Needless to say, walianza kucatch mafeelings. They could not fathom how talented the Kenyans were, and thus resorted to uncouth ways to frustrate the Kenyan team. I clearly recall a foreigner spitting to the ground looking at our direction (Kenyan fans). Not spitting like, clearing-the-throat spitting; it was more like disgusted-by-black-skin spitting. It was the worst feeling ever.

The drama did not end there. One of the foreign players came to the Kenyan fans’ side and blurted to us, “Listen here… I’ve been playing this game for thirty years. I know the rules. You guys need to be professional. You have to be willing to learn from us. It’s not right. This game has rules.” We laughed and he could clearly see we were not interested on being looked down upon. My thoughts wandered off and I pondered “Yeah… So, your team’s getting quashed fair and square and now you think we do not know how to play the game right? So, what have we been doing all this time? Roasting maize?” Let’s just say it was a stand off…

Image source: Pinterest

At each break between games, you could see that the only Kenyan in the opposing foreign team was clearly being advised on how to play the game. I thought to myself, “If that is a team (foreign) why is the Kenyan guy, the only one being coached?” It was weird. The teammates were not discussing like a team and strategizing like a team but instead, they were advising the Kenyan in their team. They did not see the mistakes of their fellow foreigners, but only saw what the Kenyan was doing wrong. Such cases go to show that some foreigners think we do not have talent. The good news is that the Kenyan team beat them mercilessly that day.

There are many other situations that Kenyans face in the hands of foreigners that show contempt. I am glad that Kenyans are aggressive and do not take contempt lying down.  Remember Kenyans on Twitter (KOT) against Donald Trump. He eventually kept quiet. We have top athletes. Our nation has produced one of the most historic and greatest presidents of the most powerful nation; Obama. We are the inventors of the only mobile money transfer system in the world; MPESA. The list goes on.

Image source: amazon.co.uk

I am sure you have gone through something that made you deliberate on what foreigners think of us. Share you experience in the comment section or message us and we can share your story.



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