Thursday, 31 July 2008

Getting Used to Kenyanese - part II

I am not even going to try to explain the nuances of Kenyan English - sorry. There are other blogs out there, written by Kenyans that can explain this. A good example is:

However, there are certain idiosyncrasies that I could point out. I have already touched on the "Yes" meaning "No" and the constant use of the word "Sorry" in a previous blog,

But now I want to touch on more general differences. Firstly, it has to be said that to a Brit, Kenyans can seem to be very rude. They are not. In my experience, they are very warm, polite people. But they can be a little abrupt. Do not be surprised if, when giving someone something such as a cigarette (or stick as it is known in Kenya), you will not necessarily receive a "Thank you". It is implied, though. Accept it as said.

The same goes for "Please". This seems to be used as a plea, a last resort. I child may say please when asking for sweets, for example, but only after several attempts to ask for sweets without using the word. This is not rude. Again, the please is implied, not spoken.

"Oh pleeease buy me some sweets," is accompanied by a cute (girl) or cheeky (boy) smile, a fluttering of those beautiful brown eyes (girls only, though).

Be warned: If you like Kenya and Kenyans, you will not resist the pleas of the children. They are masters of the plea. They are not begging, well most aren't, they just want you to be friendly and buy them sweets. Simple.

Even when travelling by train between Nairobi and Mombasa, you will not escape the children asking for sweets. They line the track-side, calling out how much they like you ("Mzungu, I love you. Pleeeease give me sweet!"). The trains only runs every other day and are slow, I mean like you will be overtaken by tuk-tuks.

The kids living in the villages next to the line know when the trains are due, and will even break from school classes to ask for sweets. Many a time I have seen an open-air classroom with only an exasperated teacher standing by his chalkboard, his charges running next to the train, carrying plastic bags in which they put their spoils.

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