Long Finger Nails

What’s up with Kenyan dudes and long finger nails? I first noticed it a few years ago on a high-school aged kid in Kitui. I was a bit weirded out when I saw that both of his pinky finger nails were strangely long and manicured, as if they hadn’t been cut in two months or so. I thought it was just this one weird guy, but since then I’ve seen it on all sorts of other guys (never women), including a few guys at ILRI where I work.

I’ve heard of people having a long thumb nail for playing the guitar, but this is just bizarre. My imagination runs wild with what it must signify.

  • Drug dealer: uses the pinky finger nail to count/sort/weigh cocaine.
  • Drug addict: uses the pinky finger nail to snort cocaine.
  • Mungiki member: pinky finger nail indicative of membership to the Mungiki criminal/religious/political Kikuyu organization.

I’ve never felt brave enough to ask someone with the finger nail affliction. I asked one of my street-savvy buddies and he said he’s been asking himself the same question for years. Does anyone have any insider information? What’s the deal?

17 Comments to “Long Finger Nails”

  1. Steve Smith

    People with office Jobs leave one long nail to showcase their cushy office gigs to friends or in case of young men it shows their carefree life after finishing school(before college) where they don’t need to work. Because they know jua kali artisans cant afford a long nail which will break painfully at work. Men do this to show when they graduate from washing dishes or helping around the house or while in high school boarding form 4’s arent required to work in cleaning. The task is left for Form 1’s and 2’s. Most Kenyan men at around 17 years of age are no longer required to pull their own weight around the house. While everyone else is toiling around the house dad’s and older sons just sit their and read the newspapers or old jackie collins novels(sons only ) while complaining the supper is taking to long. That long nail flips a mean novel page and also acts as a nifty temporary page holder.

  2. Wow, mystery solved.

    And for something completely different: When did you change this blog layout? I am having a hard time adjusting after 4.5 years!

    1. Alan Author

      Yeah, that question has finally been answered, but I don’t feel any better about it! Still so weird to me… Anyways, I changed the blog a few days ago. The old theme was kinda old, and wasn’t supporting the newer features of WordPress, etc. Also, it’s more fresh, and makes me feel less like I’m newly-arrived to Kenya!

  3. Annie Kreger

    ALAN! This has nothing to do with fingernails, but I just bought my first Mac this week and, of course, it made me think of you :)

    1. Alan Author

      Congratulations! Though these days I am no longer the “MacMiniVanMan” hahaha. Is it everything you ever dreamed it would be?

  4. Steve Smith

    Hey now that you are weirded by Kenyan men habits, maybe you should investigate if they are still obsessed with Margaret Thatcher. Funny story, she visited back around in 88 (you can see the dread in those bureaucrats faces) and left us all in a trance. I was only 10 years old and to this day i am still captivated whenever i see her on TV. Ask your Kenyan friends older than 30 about that time. Back the Kenya was 1000% male dominated(it still is but a little less ) and the idea of powerful female leader was alien to Kenyans. We cringed watching nightly news as she visited various parts of the country and ministers acted panicky around her even bumping into each other. She even dressed down one of them on TV for typical Kenyan lateness. Of course some of the stories were exaggerated by the time us kids heard it. For years after that people praised their wives/daughters/girlfriends by calling them “Thatchers’ “. People would say for example, “Men, i have to stop staying out late, my ‘Thatcher at home is complaining'”. Or some village drunk would be stumbling home at midday and reply to disapproving glances from neighbors by mumbling to himself that after all his daughter was smart and would grow up and be just like Margaret Thatcher. It was fun times back in 88. Maybe they have since moved on to Kate Middleton, but she is all sugar, spice and everything nice and they prefer Strong women. Which is maybe why they Kenyans were always clamoring for a visit by Queen Elizabeth.

    1. Alan Author

      Hey, that’s interesting… I wonder how it will work. One is an NGO and the other is very much the opposite! Will they fight and stuff…?

  5. Victoria May

    Mmmhhhh, I am so loving this blog! How did I get here in the first place? Oh, yeah, really long story. But if you care to hear it, here it goes. I saw a clip on TV (Kenya) recently which showed a group of 3 Maasai warriors stealing meat from a pride of 15 lions. So I decided to check it out on YouTube. One of the comments about the video said there are similarities between the Na’vi people in the movie Avatar, and the Maasai warriors. So I googled “avatar navi maasai”, and there was your blog! Right on the first search page! I’m so glad I stumbled upon this site. Your posts are hilarious, such as this one about long finger nails! Hahaha! I’ll definitely be checking in regularly to enjoy more of what you have to offer! Ni mzuri sana! :-)

    1. Alan Author

      I remember writing that about Avatar and the Maasai… it’s so true. I’m glad someone else noticed it too haha.

  6. Disgusting habit if you ask me.
    Older brother used to do that back in High School. Subject of many fights with mom.
    He has since quit the weird habit and has no time for folks with long pinky finger nails.

  7. Sonal

    Long pinky nail is also commonly seen in Indian men. According to those in my family the nail is a “multi-purpose tool”. It opens mobile phone cases, remote control battery covers, scratches top-up cards and itches, cleans waxy ears… you get the gist.

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