Kenya, Rants

Being White In Tala

Being white in Nairobi is mostly harmless and can be pretty funny, but being white in Tala is annoying. There are a few things that really annoy me about being non-black in Tala. It’s not that Tala is particularly a bad place; I assume you’d have the same experience if you traveled to a rural area in any country. If you stand out like a sore thumb you’re bound to attract attention (good and bad).

First, people feel so sweet when they’re with their buddies (see: Herd Behavior). They’ll say things when they’re in a group that they’d never say if they were alone. I’m used to that by now, so my heart always starts racing when I see a group of teenagers approaching. It seems like they always have to say as they pass, and it’s usually something provocative (otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this). Go live somewhere where you are different and see how it feels to walk the streets day in and day out by yourself.

Second, some people just never get used to me. For example: the girls at Tala Girls high school. The college’s compound is fenced, and I usually enter through a gate near the high school’s perimeter. The girls usually see me leaving my house through that gate and I’m used to the silly things they say (you know high school girls). I am surprised every once in a while, like last weekend some girls shouted, “Mzungu! Mzungu!” Uhh… these girls are in high school. Have they never seen a white person before? I’m not even sure that’s an excuse, because I’ve lived here for close to TWO YEARS.

Depending on my mood, these range from really pissing me off to being just slightly annoying.

9 Comments

  1. Mathias Muindi

    Hi Alan,
    I have just stumbled on your ?blog and couldnt help but sympathize and laugh at the same time. I have in your shoes: being the only black man in Baku, Azerbaijan! Scary, irritating and funny at times. The only differennce I was only there for two weeks.
    Back to Tala, it is my home-town: I spent my early years there and I know the town and its madmen. More interesting was the day I took my wife to the village: she is mixed race and she attracted all the crap you have written up.
    We may meet one day since I’m a frequent visitor and my niece is studying at Tala Girls!!!

    1. Alan Author

      Mathias,

      Karibu! Tell your niece that you know that white guy who lives next to her high school, and ha itwi ‘muzungu!’. Glad you stumbled on my blog, keep reading! I’m moving from Tala soon, but I’ll keep blogging, as it’s “alaninkenya” not “alanintala!”

      Alan

  2. Martin Esho

    Hi Allan. I once lived in a small Academy bourdering Holy Rosary College. I used to see you almost everyday but what amazed me most was the kids along the road to Tala from where you used to stay. Whenever they saw you, they used to shout ‘JESUS, JESUS’. Youmust have gone through a tough time in Tala.

  3. Allan:

    It is interesting to read about your experiences in Tala. I was a student at the boys high school in the 70s…it still remains the best 4 years of my life.

    I have lived in Boise, Idaho and my children have been the only non-white children is some of their schools. I have been the only person with non-European skin color in numerous groups. To me it is each occassion is an opportunity to share the commonality of the human race. I have brought the stories of my background to the west. People are always fascinated by the presence of those who appear as different from them…I was fascinate school children who have never seen or heard a man from Africa speak with an accent, which I claim to have acquired from Wyoming.

    1. Alan Author

      Hahaha, I bet they believed you when you told them your accent was from Wyoming. I knew enough Kikamba to say hi and some other random things, and then I’d tell people my name was Wambua, wa Kangundo and then I’d just walk away. HAHAHAA. Must have shocked them hahaha

  4. Dennis Mungai

    The Jesus part is a classic, ha ha ha! Hope your long hair wasn’t a part of the mix coz these kids seemed to have liked you.

  5. Verha Naomi

    I just stumbled on your blog and i must say you’ve had quite the kenyan experience and your adaptation skills are mad. Im glad you’re not judging all kenyans the same after your experiences.

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