Can I call my bestfriend black?

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First let me clarify that we are not the first interracial bffs….. is that even a thing?

But I live in a country where you have to be careful what you say because you could easily offend someone.

Personally, I made a decision to NEVER start any conversation because I might end up making an enemy while my original intention was to make a new friend.

Yeap, Sweden made me shy!

But before you feel so sorry for me just know that I have a friend. Someone I can be myself around. Her name is Jenifer Reina from Guatemala in Central America.

I’m introducing you to Jenny because as most of you may have seen on my Instagram and Facebook page, I will be Vlogging alot. And Jenny will be part of it once in a while.

I remember the first day I met Jenny in class I was sitting in my secluded corner as always. Any efforts to socialise had hit the wall. I had too much energy and everyone I tried to socialise with acted a bit strange.

Mistakes we make as immigrants

But then Jenny happened. We have been friends for six months now but we have seen each other through so much stuff. Maybe you might think am being dramatic but making friends at this age in Europe is not a walk on the park. Jenny has seen me have a meltdown more than once. And she still looked for me. She didn’t give up on me or think am weird.

So the other day we were talking about all the political correctness and how much it affects you as a human being. I got a little curious and asked Jenny these questions….

What did you think of Africa before you met me?
I thought of Africa as an exotic place that is well known because of its beautiful wild animals. A country that has both poor and rich, with a big social gap but also that is on its way to development with people living in small or big houses. I make the clarification of people living in houses because once I met a person from U.S.A. and he told me that he thought that all Guatemalans lived in trees. Making the comparison with my country, I also know that in Africa there is a percentage of indigenous people that live in tribes.

Why I don’t tell the African story

Is there a misconception about African people that you changed your mind about after our friendship?
Definitely! I want to have more friends as Cate. Honestly I did not have any problem meeting African people, I just hadn’t had the chance of meeting someone from Africa and building a friendship. And now that I have met my friend Cate, it feels like we have been friends from so long ago! The color of our skin (I am very pale) has never ever been an issue.

What question have you always wanted to ask me that you are afraid to?
I have already done that haha. I was afraid and still am of saying “black people” because it sounds racist. Media has created so much drama with the use of these words. But then Cate told me that there was no problem referring to someone this way. I still can’t say them openly but now I know what Cate thinks and how she feels about it.

Let Africa be!

What common thing do Kenyans share with Guatemalans? Based on the stories I tell you?
“Bailando” haha that is what my friend Cate always says to me when she hears me speaking Spanish. I think we share the same positive energy and sense of humor, where we just laugh for no reason at all, just for making the best out of life. I think Kenyans and Guatemalans are very social and friendly people that are always willing to help someone even if they have just met the person for 1 minute. Regarding the country in general, I think we share almost the same warm weather and the same social and economical differences. I still haven’t tried Kenyan food but I can almost be certain that we share the same taste in spices and variety of flavours 🙂

Apology letter to Swedish mosquitoes

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Dear Viking Mozzies,

How are you? Hope you are not too tired from the late night rounds from door to door trying to find a human to suck blood from.

My neighbour’s cat is using me

I understand that your job is not only physically but emotionally draining especially after some of us mercilessly murder your relatives in cold blood. I can’t even begin to picture how painful it is to walk into a room and see your relative stuck on a wall. That’s not something anyone should ever have to live through. I did it. Ok, I do it all the time.

But recently my sins caught up with me. A day after killing one of your own by crushing them between my hands and mercilessly turning them into a piece of art on my wall, I developed a rush. Yaani, I woke up the next day with pimples all over my body. Even on my scalp. And then I began scratching and then I concluded that some of you had attacked me in revenge for what I had done to one of you.

Swedish Mosquitoes tried to murder me

And so I ranted, cursed and told everyone about you. How, you, unlike your cousins in Africa bite and leave marks. Can you believe what I did to your reputation? I know you probably hate me so much. I can imagine how much pain and distress I caused you and ruined your otherwise…eer good..eer …whatever name.

I’m sorry because it turns out that this had nothing to do with you. That this was a virus. The second bout of chicken pox. I suffered chicken pox and blamed you and for that, I totally apologize. However, I would like to ask you for a favor. Can you please attach some weird doctor who could not differentiate between your bites and chicken pox? I will share details of his address once you accept this apology and get back to me.

Swedes are sad, I imported flu!

You don’t need to come to my house. Just write, use smoke signals, horns or any other form of communication you find appropriate. I will appreciate.

Yours truly,

Self-confessed serial killer of your relatives.

Mistakes we make as immigrants

Moving to a new country means that you sacrifice your status as a respectable member of the society and start over as a random human being elsewhere.

You are a nobody, at least that’s how I felt. I think it was even worse for me as a former journalist at the peak of her career.

No one cared and the few people I told probably thought I wrote newspapers in my native language. People out here don’t know what language we speak in Kenya.

And these things can break you and mess yourself esteem but you must always stay strong and remember who you are. Otherwise, you will find yourself behaving as below:-

1. Become needy and expect a lot

When I first joined Swedish classes I felt like I had traveled back to my childhood. There were people sucking up to the teachers and if the attention was not reciprocated they actually became cold and withdrawn. In a different class, there was a lot of attention seeking to a point the teacher asked the students to stop asking questions. I suspect if the sucking up had gone on one of the students, who was like 35 years old, would have brought apples for the teacher. Just like in Kindergarten. Some things require common sense so don’t always ask everything or expect to be spoonfed. And the hosts in your new country doesn’t owe you any sort of special treatment.

I want the world to know…..

2. Look for your countrymen.

This is something I learned the hard way. When I arrived in Sweden, naturally I just wanted some familiarity. I met a few good people but sadly through my connections, I bumped into some hostile individuals. I even changed gyms after bumping into a Kenyan who felt that I had blogged about her. She also misunderstood my goofiness for something else and suddenly became hostile mid-workout session. It was ugly. I stopped my work out and decided to go home. I quit that gym, disconnected any previous links with any Kenyan I knew (sad that I cut off everyone but I just wasn’t prepared for a second incidence). Since then, I’m a loner taking her time to make new friends. Just because we come from the same country doesn’t mean we are compatible.

3. Compare yourself with others.

This is directly linked to the above statement. The other reason I avoid Kenyans who have been here for so long is that they have already written their stories and while am happy for them I may easily get discouraged by their strides. Let’s be sincere. We are only human. Write your own story, find your crowd and you will be fine!

4. Sell yourself short

Just because you are starting over does not mean you are any less good.

Give yourself time, blow your own trumpet occasionally and showcase your skills. Be ambitious!

5. Stop old habits

This is the worst mistake you could make and it will destroy you. Keep doing what you used to do in your old country as long as it’s legal in the new country. The sudden change of habits can be very dangerous for your psychological behavior. Be yourself as everyone else is taken!

6. Misbehave

Most immigrants also tend to forget that they are a representation of their country and race. As a die-hard pan African I have found myself in situations where I have to bite my tongue because I cannot defend my people. Be a good brand ambassador!

Swedes are sad, I imported flu!

Pic/courtesy

This post is dedicated to my loyal follower, Nkatha Bae, who missed me so much that she had to find out if I’m still alive or dead and buried at in the imaginary deep caves underneath Ramberget (Raven hill) mountain in Hisingen Island in Gothenburg, Sweden.

I really don’t have a solid excuse as to why I have not been blogging for the past few weeks. I just hit a writer’s block and lacked motivation. But can you blame me?

I’m still getting used to this dark side of the continent and so is my throat during this cold, dark and mysterious season of European weather seasons.

I recently suffered a sore throat so rough it could be used to clean a pair of Savco jeans. Infact if it continues this way, my throat will be rough enough to be used on rough wooden surfaces instead of sandpaper.

Have I mentioned how I slid on the tarmac while walking home and almost popped my brains open? I think Africans like myself need special training on how to walk on ice. Anyway, it’s now seven months since I moved here and no matter how much I try I will never understand Swedish people.

Let me tell you how I concluded this dilemma……

My neighbour’s cat is using me

When I came here during spring, I got mixed signals. Some people were happy while others seemed deeply sad. The sad lot improved during summer and survived the beginning of autumn a bit maybe because of the beautiful flowers. Then I decided to leave Gothenburg briefly and visit a friend in Denmark.

Spent a splendid weekend there with journalists from all over the world and when I came back everything had changed. The Swedes were sad again.

They are all behaving in a uniform manner. When they are not looking down while running from buildings towards their cars, they are staring deeply into their coffee mugs in restaurants. It’s dark and they are wearing black. I suspect I’m the only one still doning colour because most immigrants have now adopted the ‘Swedish uniform’.

“What happened? Who died while I was away? How long with they be mourning? Is it something I did? Is it because I imported flu from Denmark? Are they sad because I left? Or is it because I’m back?” Are some of the questions I have been asking myself lately.

My neighbour’s cat is using me

I’m sorry guys I have not updated the blog recently because I have been busy and generally lacked motivation.

But that does not mean that I escaped the usual daily drama. No, I’m actually contemplating giving the Kardashian a run for their money. I need a reality show. Just scroll down and tell me if you’d watch my reality show…..

I need a pet

The last time I had a pet was in 1997 when my grandpa handed me down his beloved dog Kisang’ule. I might have forgotten to feed him and he moved in with the neighbours or something like that. But recently I have fallen in love with my European neighbours live stock. And when I talk about live stock am referring to their cats and dogs.

The neighbor’s cat has become so friendly to a point he comes to my house to eat. And immediately he is done, he  just meows me to let him out of the house after eating my water melon. I feel used and it is for that reason that I will buy my own pet. A hen. I will walk my hen every evening and even recruit it to hen kindergarten. I hope they can vaccinate it so that I can take it in the bus with me. I feel so empowered by such thoughts. I’m a genius!

Excuse me, I’m a robot!

These thoughts come at a time when owning a dog in Kenya is now a status symbol. Do you know how long my family owned dogs? In 1934, my grandpa landed in Ngong, from Kilungu armed with nothing but his dog Kisang’ule. Kisang’ule survived on left overs. In fact, wakati wa kiangazi, that poor dog ate guavas and avocados. And no one bothered to interview him!

Speaking of animals, I see Jaguar and Babu Owino tried to wrestle each other in parliament. Such a shoddy job. Kenyan parliament needs to give us something better than the Ugandans. Put us on the world map. One Ugandan Mp even did a spin on the table while another one blocked a chair that was thrown at him like Bruce Lee. And where did that get them? On Trevor Noah’s show on Comedy Central. You can’t just bite and spit on each other. What are you? Pythons? Shie!

Bomboclat

I don’t like stressing about Kenyan politics drama and that’s why I like spending my spare time in the gym sweating off the anxiety.  So committed that the other day I taught a Jamaican to pronounce the word cucumber. I could not take it anymore because every time he spots me we have to discuss bloodclat vegetables, MAUMAU and Bomboclat. I don’t know what most of our conversations are about but I try to keep up. But what is: ‘kakamba?’ It’s cucumber my friend.

See such moment redeem my embarrassing moments from previous gym sessions. Can you believe I recently  lost my limbs in that same gym?  I was doing my usual set of heavy squats (Lower body is my strength) then some English bloke challenged his friend who was squatting less than a 1/4 of my weights. Ego boost my guy. Then small talk in between sets. Me, narrating how I killed a lion using my mothers cooking spoon, swam with sharks in Tana River and taught a monkey to speak Japanese. I was really feeling myself. At some point, I felt like my dreadlocks had also developed muscle.

Then I finished my set and decided to return the plates. This is where things went downhill. My ego was all over the place so I was even arranging the plates like I’m the only one who can do it in the whole world. I didn’t even realise that the plate holder was too weak until it fell off and all plates were on top of me. Whole gym came to a standstill, even the receptionist came to evacuate me. When I say everyone helped, that includes the guy who was lifting less than me. I don’t know if this gym will renew my membership!