I am happy to report that my 'Kenyanese' is still very intact, even after being away from Kenya for over a year now. This has been variously confirmed by people I meet, who have been to Kenya, who then go ahead and certify that I am extremely Kenyan.
What gives me away from the very start, is my authentic Kenyan accent, which is, thanks to my being raised in Nairobi, a mix of Luo, Swahili, Sheng and English accents.
To unpack for you this strange 'Nairobi' accent, I will first point out that such an amalgamation of languages and accents in Nairobi is actually not strange at all, as it is typical of big cities anywhere in the world.
In my case, the Luo is from my ethnic background, the Swahili is from the conventional language that everyone in Kenya is supposed to speak, the Sheng is that version of Swahili that Kenyans actually speak, and the English is a remnant of the British colonial rule in East Africa.
So now if you mix all these languages, and top it off with an american wannabe attitude, what you get is an exemplary Nairobi accent, such as the one I have perfected over the last 30 or so years that I have been speaking.
My main reason for being so proud of this Nairobi/Kenyan accent, is that it is probably the only thing, other than my passport, that marks me as a Kenyan. My looks could be somewhat Kenyan, although I might as well pass for a Ugandan or Tanzanian or even a Xhosa from South Africa; and that, just before I open my mouth to reveal my Kenyanese.
I now brag about my Kenyanese everywhere I go, having discovered that Kenyans have such a reputation. I will discuss the value of that Kenyan reputation another day; suffice to say that eyes light up on hearing the word 'Kenyan'.
For today then, I am happy to say: 'Najivunia kuwa Mkenya', translated as 'I am proud to be Kenyan'.
Sometimes though, I use the other versions of that popular Kenyan motto: 'Navumilia kuwa Mkenya' or worse still, 'Najihurumia kuwa Mkenya' .
If the recent price hike of milk in Kenya is anything to go by, I am almost certain that Kenyans right now are most likely to adopt these last two versions, which loosely translated mean: 'I am persevering to be a Kenyan' and 'I pity myself for being Kenyan'.
In closing, I advice my fellow Kenyans that dairy products are not good for the adult body anyway, and so we might as well take this chance to wean ourselves off milk entirely, as a nation.
Labels: Kenyanese, Milk price hike, Nairobi accent, Sheng, Swahili