I had a funny experience in the market today: after work I went to buy some avocados and fresh corn for dinner. I found a group of mamas sitting near some vegetables so I greeted them and told them what I wanted. Just then it started raining so they invited me under their small shelter to sit on a bucket. I pointed to the maize, still in the husk, and said I wanted it but that I didn’t want to pick them off the cob. I struggled to explain this in Swahili, but I was getting close with the addition of some sounds and hand motions. I said I wanted mbili (“two”) corn and two avocados.
I again motioned that I didn’t want to pick the corn off the cob, and could she? When she understood she started laughing, then I started laughing. This attracted a small crowd of baby-carrying mamas, to whom the corn lady spoke some Kamba (the local language) and whose babies I greeted in said vernacular, and then broke the cobs in half and distributed them to the crowd for picking. As we were laughing and they were picking, I noticed there was quite a number of people eye balling our little corn-picking party. The team finished quickly and professionally (I tried it once a few months ago and I gave up, and roasted the corn instead). I gave them a bit of extra money for helping me pick the corn, and then we made some small talk and I said, “Thank you,” and, “see you later!”
These mamas are the backbone of Kenya. Kabisa (“completely”).