Funny things happen when you’re white and you walk around Nairobi. Here’s a few things I’ve noticed:
- Every cab driver thinks you want a cab
- Every tour guide thinks you want to go for a safari
- Every begger gets excited when they see you, then they give their best “Jambo! Hello!”
- People selling trinkets get excited when they see you (like, “Yeah! Now that you mention it, I DID want a box of matches!”)
- Shoes shiners want to polish your shoes
Sometimes I tell them funny things, like I’ll tell the cab drivers ndio hizi (like, “yeah, these”) and point to my feet, or nataka kuenda kwa miguu (“I want to go on foot”). It’s harder to be nice to the safari dudes; if I’m annoyed I’ll just tell them mimi si mtalii (“I’m not a tourist”). I know that’s a bit rude so I always feel bad after. I guess you can’t blame them for assuming you’re a tourist. The hilarious thing about the shoe shiners is that I am usually wearing sandals when they ask me… they laugh when I point to my feet and say, “No thanks!”
Realistically, any person who isn’t black probably experiences these things (Japanese, Swedish, etc). There are plenty of non-black Kenyans, but I don’t know any so I’m not sure if they have similar experiences. I guess the locals can tell if you’re a foreigner.
Karibu Kenya (“you’re welcome in Kenya”!)
This goat is the king of Tala’s market (or at least he walks around like he owns the place). I’m not sure how old it is, but I’ve been seeing him for nearly two years now. That means it has lasted through at least two Christmas and two Easter feasts. A colleague of mine swears the goat has an owner, and I guess he’s probably right, but what gives? If it has an owner, it’s oblivious of the fact; this goat is does what it wants when it wants to! I took these pictures yesterday as I was walking home with my buddy Sammy (the jamaa (“dude”) in the shorts). I even saw it again tonight. I tried to take a picture of it last week but my phone’s battery had died. Good thing too, because my buddy was calling me a tourist, haha!
One afternoon I took a back route home from the market and I saw a girl relaxing on a blanket and smoking some weed; there was nobody else around, but the goat was proudly standing just a few feet away from her. I just cracked up. Another time I walked past a church crusade (singing, dancing, evangelizing) on a Sunday in Tala’s market, and it was standing right behind the crowd of people, as if to remind onlookers of that age-old duality of good versus evil. Yet another time I was leaving the market a bit late and I saw it just chillin’ in the public transit terminus (a bit creepy because it was dark, the wind was blowing, and the market was nearly deserted). Besides, look at the horns on this thing!
We’re used to it by now, but it never ceases to crack me up. Crazy Tala!