Tourist In Your Own Country.

The mounds of dust and cobwebs billowing out of this formerly ‘abandoned house’ could cause a blinding dust storm! Luckily, it’s a new year and within those 10 seconds to the 2014 countdown I had time to reflect on how to make this year better part of which, included rekindling my ‘writing flame’. That though, is not even close to the truth. I just really wanted to use that line. It felt befitting for January, a month that brings a renewed hope for fresh beginnings. The reality though, is that halfway through the year most these resolutions will have failed to launch.

The fear of being a non-starter pushed me back into reading. Clearly, after being away since June last year I needed to pick the brains of a few just to make sure the ‘game’ hasn’t changed much. So I read. Tweets, blogs, articles until finally I grew balls and got a book. Well not precisely in that order. The point is, I got reading. Currently i’m reading The Kite Runner by  Khaled Hosseini, an international bestseller with an intriguing story about a young afghan boy, Amir and his relationship with his closest friend, Hassan who is his father’s young servant.

My attention so far has been drawn to Chapter Nineteen of the book where Amir talks of feeling like a tourist in his own country when he goes back after twenty years of living in America. (Go buy the book or read it online here THE KITE RUNNER) There are two sides to being a tourist in your own country, one which is admirable  the other, not so much. With respect to the latter, a couple of things came to mind when I thought of Kenyan tourists in Kenya which I felt I had to share.

First off, let me say I am all about ‘live and let live’…every one being entitled to choose their own standards and lives and letting others be. However, the following characteristics of Kenyan tourists in Kenya, the kind that remain oblivious to the happenings, culture and situations in their country can be depressing.

  1. They speak every other language but Kiswahili. I’d include mother tongue but that’s being a bit too ambitious. I haven’t researched on this ‘phenomenon’ so I can’t cite accurate reasons for it but, your guess is as good as mine. For those who grew up out of Kenya or went to schools where Kiswahili wasn’t offered and lived around ‘fellow tourists’, it’s not your fault. All the same, learn the language. You can’t be more Kenyan than that.
  2. They know nothing if anything at all about the Kenyan government and the politics surrounding it but if say, the US government was to shut down, they would write a paper on it. I know politics can be boring. And on this side of the world, tiring! But, if a man was to rob you, treat you like a fool and lie incessantly to your face, wouldn’t you want to know his identity?!  They could name all 50 states of the USA. All 47 counties in Kenya? Who has time for that?
  3. “I don’t normally listen to local music…” Kenyan tourists in Kenya have a thing for this phrase. I only believe in labeling music either as good or bad depending on your taste. Where it originates from shouldn’t really matter. That song by a Kenyan artiste might have a crappy video and lame lines but there’s a catchy tune to it that you might surprisingly like or is insanely hilarious.
  4. Like the tourist they are, they compare every single little thing that happens in the country (that’s if they come by the information by chance) to the West. I mean, mattresses burn at a mall and let out a black smoke…” In western countries that smoke would be invisible!” There are more directions on the compass..look to the East, North and South as well. But home is best so, criticize and find Kenyan solutions for Kenya.

I could go on…but fortunately or unfortunately, my brain gave me an allowance of four. I will attempt to sound wise and leave you with this..”Explore your own country, the language, culture and heritage…and be the envy of the world!”