Love yourself the way you love a foreign tourist

December 9, 2013 1:41 AM

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Updated Sunday, December 8th 2013 at 22:18 GMT +3

Kenya: It is a picture that appears in your newspaper time and again — skimpily dressed female traditional dancers shaking their ‘ fundamendos’ for foreign tourists at airports in Mombasa and Nairobi.

As always, they smile sweetly as they dance, spreading so much warmth that the winter chill is thawed out of the coldest foreign tourist’s heart. It is usually such a shock that the wazungu smile back and join in the traditional dance comically, the way a girl born and raised in my village would waltz.

From the airport, we whisk them to a hotel, where staff in starched uniforms and broad smiles say ‘karibu’ with a glass of chilled fruit juice — fresh, of course.

As a rule, hotels meant for tourists are beautiful, the linen clean, the kitchen spotless, the chef trained, the security tight and all the staff pretty, handsome and so polite it is frightening.

We ensure to serve the best meats, the freshest vegetables and bread, in places that are airy, nicely landscaped and so beautiful they make you want to fall in love.

We do everything in our power to make tourists feel at home, smiling all the time, so that when they leave, they always itch to return, saying, “I love Kenya — the people are just awesome!”

What the tourists don’t understand is that they live in another world, one most Kenyans never venture into.

Kenyans are anything but warm. We are rude, foul-mouthed, selfish, and sweaty and we will swipe your wallet at the slightest opportunity.

Last weekend, I met a young white woman who had ventured into the world our world. We were waiting for a matatu at the Bomas of Kenya junction when two shifty eyed characters pulled to a stop in noisy piece of junk that had just come out of a garage.


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