I’m moving to Panama!

So much has happened since my last blog post.

Most of it cannot be posted here because I still need the few friends that talk to me to keep doing that.

Guys, I live in a a country where one could stop talking to you because you sneezed. I swear I didn’t make this up. A friend told me she lost a friend because of her bright coloured clothing.

Anyway, I lost my ATM card a few weeks ago. I only noticed a day later and transfered all my money to my overseas accounts in Panama. Ok, fine I exaggerated but I did transfer it to a different account. See, most of the time if you lose your card you lose your money too. But my case is unique. A day before Easter, I received money from an unknown sender. And I thought to myself: “Illuminati is that you?” So I called a friend from Jehova witness to pray for me, informed my village witchdoctor and finally the bank. Not necessarily in that order but you get the gist?

I BROUGHT BACK LUPITA TO WAKANDA!

My bank told me if I want to know the source, I have to pay them on an hourly basis. They also warned me not to use the money incase the owner comes for it. Ghasia! I’m planning to sue the bank and it’s relatives for suspense and mental torture.

As for whoever put the money there, I will find them and ….and….well there isn’t much I can do.

Aside from that, this blog has been nominated for 2018’s Bloggers Association of Kenya Awards in the Best Creative Writing category. To vote please follow this link https://vote.bakeawards.co.ke/ . I hope I make you happy enough to want to vote for me.

How I got Lupita back to Wakanda

Photo:Courtesy

Four years ago, Hollywood based Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.

It took her a while before she came back home to Kenya and that got some of us insecure. So I wrote her the letter below:-

Dear Lupita,

First of all, let me congratulate you for putting Kenyans on the global map by winning that Oscar in 2014. At least Kenya is now known for something else apart from wildlife, the Maasai, athletics, terror attacks, warring politicians and corruption.

WHY I DON’T TELL THE AFRICAN STORY
Before I move on to my main agenda, I must also applaud you for declaring to those clueless journalists that the Oscar belonged to you and not Mexico. I mean, it belongs to you and us – Kenyans.

That said, Amondi, your Kenyan fans are still waiting for the homecoming Oscar party. Nyar Seme, do you know how it feels to see you fly past Kenya to Uganda.

In preparation, I have several venues in mind. We will party till the break of dawn as we take selfies with your Oscar. How much is it worth by the way? We can hire professional bodyguards to watch over as we dance the night away. Don’t worry, bouncers no longer disappear with millions as they used to six years ago.

Back to the venue details. Of course we will secure a fancy place away from half-lit strip clubs frequented by bleached women who gained fame from silicon enhancements protruding from their bums.

We will also avoid nightclubs around that busy street in Westlands where nubile girls suck on a bottle of lager for seven straight hours. Maybe, after all, we might hire a reputable events organiser to set up tents and flashy lights at the top of Ngong’ Hills where we can fly in selected guests to avoid city floods.

We promise to invite the crème de la crème of celebs and a few St Mary’s and Rusinga school alumni. I’m sure you won’t mind hanging out with President Uhuru Kenyatta, Youth Fund Chair Bruce Odhiambo, rugby player Biko Adema, Kitu Kidogo singer Eric Wainaina and TV personality Jeff Koinange. They are all ‘Saints’, right?

While at it, I hope you can also talk to the Rusinga School management to stop suspending kids with dreadlocks. I mean, you are living proof that success has nothing to do with hair, right? By the way, was it not at Rusinga where you made your debut in acting playing a minor role in Oliver Twist? How old were you, 14?

THE DOG THAT ATE UNDERWEAR AND OTHER STORIES

Lupita, is it okay if we also invite some of your Kenyan colleagues from Phoenix Players? It’s only fair since this is where you began proper acting. Remember playing Juliet in Romeo and Juliet before leaving for Hampshire College in 2001?

We understand you have a very tight schedule and your movement is closely monitored and controlled by your management. Speaking of management, they are yet to reply to 11 emails I have sent them since 2014. Tell them not to take President Uhuru’s meat wrapping stories too seriously.

I would hate to imagine that you are avoiding home. We saw the selfies you took with Ugandan comedian Ann Kansiime and even wrote a tribute to her on your Facebook page.

The last time you featured Kenya on your Facebook page was a post you made about ugali and sukumawiki. Do you ever miss us like we do?

You went ahead and credited your hair inspiration for Cannes Festival to Ugandan women. I cannot blame you for that though; there is nothing inspiring about weaves made of cat fur and horse tails. I also noticed you wore a dress similar to the famous Nairobi Blue gown you wore at the Oscars. I’m talking about your green dress at the Cannes. Was it inspired by Ugandan matoke?

Did I mention that I’m proud of your acting skills? No? Of course I loved what you did in 12 Years A Slave as Patsey and a bit disappointed by the minor role they gave you in Non-Stop. I really hope that they will do you justice in Star Wars. If they don’t, we can always attack them on Twitter with a battalion of hashtags and memes. If that does not work, we can always send fans of a certain Kenyan football club (names withheld)with a lorry full of stones.

WHO IMPREGNATED THE FAMILY CAT

Rumour has it that you are about to land in South Africa anytime this month to shoot the Ugandan inspired movie, Queen Of Katwe. Please be careful because our brothers down south have gone nuts and are stabbing anyone they perceive to be a threat economically. Be careful. While at it, chunga mizigo yako. Those guys are thieves.

Did you get a boyfriend by the way? I heard you broke up with that Somali boy K’Naan and got a little flirty with actor Jared Leto. Don’t sweat it. Come home. We will get you an African man preferably from Ingokho land. We have noticed your cheekbones and shoulders. You need to feed!

Lupita, my dreams are also valid, so I believe this letter will get to you!

Yours,

social climber,

Cate Mukei

NB: This article was first published by this writer on The Nairobian Newspaper in 2015.

Politically correct saints!

You guys know how much I loathe middle class characters in Nairobi.

I have evenmade fun of their superficial lifestyle in this blog before.

So anyway I have met the Swedish equal to Kenya’s middle class. The politically correct individuals.

Those guys are amazing. They behave like NGOs. They do everything to feel better about themselves. I have actually grouped them:

Talker

This politically correct type of person is the most annoying. A know it all who thinks third world countries don’t have internet. This type of person completes your sentences and acts amazed that you went to school just because you are from Africa. Their compliments are things like: “Oh! You are smart.” Then stare in your eyes for like 10 minutes probably to see if you have eyeballs just like all human beings.

WHY I DON’T TELL THE AFRICAN STORY

Snob

The snob will never talk, stare or even acknowledge your existence when it’s just the two of you. But just wait until3 you are with other people! All of a sudden they are introducing you as their bestfriend. It’s hillarious.

Shocked

This type of politically correct human hardly travels, reads the news and thinks their country is the best. But to cover it up they behave like they are interested in your stories. So they hardly listen to anything you say. They have a permanent facial expression talking to you since they are absent minded. They are not interested in anything you say. Try cracking a joke; they’ll still act shocked instead of laughing!

Teacher

This one assumes that your IQ levels are really down. So they take over as your teacher and translate every conversation in English using tonal varion, facial expressions and graphs and diagrams. These people mostly exist in networking platforms.

I TOOK POULTRY TO A SWEDISH CLASS

Escapist

These ones hardly share opinions or comment on anything. I’m slowly starting to fall in this category. Coming from a background where conversations are mostly based on current affairs; I have quickly learnt that I should always avoid anything touching politics, gender, religion and race. I only talk about the weather. I love snow. End of discussion!

PS: I recently met a reader who was offended by my articles leading to some very awkward conversation. As a creative, I really hate it when someone tries to control what I put out here. It’s suffocating. Yes, I do write about my friends but ofcourse with their permission. I’m sorry I can’t please everyone but my intention is not to offend anyone. This blog is my therapy and sometimes the shoe will fit…..

Yeap, Sweden made me shy!

I know the word shy and the name Cate Mukei doesn’t sound right in the same sentence for most of who know me.

But I have been unknowingly acting shy!

See, when I arrived in Sweden on April 7, I had not clue of the transformation I would go through as a person.

I went through the crying stage where I really wanted to go back home. Infact, I just wanted my mother. To get over it, I tried to make new friends but that didn’t really go well.

I’m a very talkative and goofy person. Most of my Kenyan friends thought I was funny. No one really peed on themselves because of I joke I made but still, they did change their facial expressions.

READ MORE: NEW COUNTRY, NEW JOB SURVIVAL TIPS

That’s not the case anymore. Most of the time people just stare at me. Blankly! Do you know how humiliating that is? When you just sound like a chatter box? No one is responding to you?

That’s actually one of the reasons I decided not to pursue a career in journalism in Sweden. I attended several press conferences and I remember trying to explain something in comparison to how media work in Kenya and everyone just stared at me like I was an alien. If it wasn’t for some other foreign journalist (I think he was from BBC), I think I would have broken down there and then. He made me understand that it was nothing personal. That’s just how Swedes are.

Then there is the accent. I never thought that Kenyans have a unique accent until I moved here. And sometimes people don’t understand what I say. It also doesn’t help that I have a soft voice. Remember, I’m talkative but not loud. I still don’t understand that bit myself. So having to repeat myself all the time really did things to my self-esteem. A shy journalist? I was really hard on my self and frankly speaking I almost gave up on starting conversations with people.

Learning Swedish also affected my English skills so much that I have to think all the time when I want to express myself. I have to think in Kamba, translate it to Swahili, then English and finally Swedish. Just picture how difficult it is to have a conversation with me lately.

WHAT YOU MISSED: WHY I DON’T TELL THE AFRICAN STORY

So what kept me going?

Frankly speaking I’m still rebuilding myself self-esteem. Mostly because if I am to progress, I need to talk to people. It’s important that I communicate and confidently share my capabilities. As a creative, I have also discovered that I’m now in a different set up and I have do adapt to it. I’m not hanging out with fellow creatives and can’t easily share my scattered thoughts. I’m in Rome now….you know what is expected when you get there!

I have also started appreciating small things around me and using them to motivate myself. For instance the number of people smiling back at me in a month has sky rocketed from two to eight. Mostly because I now work for a multinational company. Guys, did I tell you that a Swede actually sat next to me in the bus and started a conversation with me? I’m thinking of writing a book based on that single incidence.

Anyway, I have to stop here and study for my Swedish Language National exam which is an week. Another self-esteem boosting milestone!

New Job, New country survival tips!

Prior to my relocation to Sweden, I had been to Europe several times but it had never occurred to me that I would permanently move and work here.

It’s now nine months since the big move but each day is a new lesson. One of my greatest fears during the first few months was to get depressed as I was really homesick and didn’t have any friends.

I had countless numbers of moments where all I wanted to do was just pack my bags and book the next flight home. I managed to keep myself by studying, blogging, working and volunteering at Goteborg’s Radningsmission.

Then I went to Kenya for three weeks and it was during that visit I came across an article that enabled me make the plan below for survival in the new country:

LESSONS FROM KENYANS IN SWEDEN

Take care of your mind and body

There is something fulfilling about healthy living and this involves working out and diet. Sometimes, when I chew on carrot or lettuce leaf, as rabbit-ish as it may sound, I feel so empowered and just want to organise a mini presser to update the world that my body is currently digesting some vitamins. It even gets worse when I discover that my triceps are finally bulging out. Thank fully Instagram helps me keep up with fellow health freaks, and gym addicts as we compare notes through hashtags. Bottom line this is a very fulfilling habit and as they say garbage in, garbage out. A statistical statement that also works for my body.

Avoid social media analysts!

Lately, I don’t watch or keep up with current affairs as I did in the last ten years. Of course I do try to keep up with Donald Trump’s Covfefe, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta’s oversize suits and Kim Jong Un’s haircut but I’m very careful not to get carried away. I, mostly, avoid social media analysts. Those guys will make you think that the world is ending tomorrow. The constant negativity perpetuated by news reports, over time, can give many people the false belief that all of life is horrible. I wish I could live without watching or reading the news for 30 days but no one wants to have a conversation with a clueless human!

WHY I DON’T TELL THE AFRICAN STORY

Purpose

I’m at a point in my life where I think about everything I do and why I do it. I no longer just jump out of bed, shower and walk to work just because. I call this purpose. I actually wake up at 5am but only leave bed at 5.30am. I spend 30 minutes staring at the ceiling thinking about the day ahead.

This gives me motivation to attack the work day. This meditating routine helps me stay motivated and feel centered, focused, and ready to perform. Just like you slowly warm up before exercise, you want to slowly warm up your mind and body before working. I read that this helps one fulfil their short term goals.

Have a life!

I can’t really say that I have friends in Gothenburg yet but I’m slowly getting to know people. I really love having a good laugh which mostly involves my own embarrassing moments and who better to share with than new friends?

This also helps me to avoid overthinking and builds my self-esteem. Knowing that another Kenyan also used to run across the zebra crossing when they first got to Sweden even when they had right of way is so comforting. That, and other ‘sheep in the big city’ kind of amusing tales that will not be shared in this article.

This has also exposed me to different cultures as I now have also met other people from various countries.

I’M STILL A VILLAGER

I’m not perfect

Living in a multicultural environment has really been tough on me. There are times I have sat and wondered if I said something wrong that could have offended someone unknowingly. I’m more conscious.

At some point last year, I got too conscious to a point I stopped talking but I started losing myself. Then I made a conscious decision now to be too hard on myself. Sometimes, out of curiosity one may end up asking very offensive questions. I have learnt from my mistakes and this has also enabled me to accommodate those so called ‘offensive questions’ when they come my way.

This has enabled me to remain calm even in situations where everyone thought I should give rude responses or condemn people. The more understanding you get, the more approachable you get. I have had people apologise to me for things they asked about a month ago and just discovered could be offensive. Of course, we laugh about it as most of the time I didn’t get offended and can hardly remember what that was about.