So many people have written about this, commented about it, told stories and it might be ever so cliche, but I have to. I really have to.
I knew sooner or later I was going to hear one of those comments that make you want to eye roll real quick and then walk away ashamed for the person because of their ignorance, However, i did not expect it to be in the first conversation ever held in Sweden.
I needed to find my housing and someone needed to drive me. The said character was very nice and kind (swede stereotype, not all of them are) and really wanted to make me feel comfortable. So after grabbing my keys to my housing, we head on out in a mini van to find my accommodation.
He is very Interested in Africa and in Kenya to be even more specific. I am EXCITED! “So how is life in Kenya”, ” What do you mean?” ” Like tell me everything, from how you live to the wildlife ,all of that. Like do Lions walk on the streets and stuff?”
If you ask him, he can tell you how much I laughed at this question. I have heard about people who were asked the same thing and then the same damn question was dropped on me. It was funny though, because a couple of weeks back or months before I got to Sweden, there was a story about how lions from KWS (Kenya Wildlife Service ) had left the park and were lounging on Langata Road causing quite the scene.
So you can imagine me trying to explain how,usually no, the lions do not walk on the streets but, yes sometimes they just might. You never know.Lol. I couldn’t even blame him for that one.
Then there was a hair comment. A few months in and I was tired of my braids and so I decided to take them off and rock the natural state of my hair before I decided to braid it again. They were used to seeing the long tresses of my braids and then one morning it was from Long to short, real quick! It did not help that I am trying to avoid heat on my hair and so it was even shorter than usual.
” Are you allowed to have long hair? Like are there people who have long hair?”
ALLOWED? By who? Apparently Africans have to be allowed by some entity to grow their hair long, otherwise then we are stuck with short afros for the rest of our lives. This one bothered me. There have been so many people of late showing off their long thick( and some not thick at all) black hair and all these talks of hair care and models and hair and ,and ERYKAH BADU!!! Gosh. My mother for one, before the Cancer , had her hair down her back just a few inches shy to be “just above her bum .” How can you ask me that? Just how? wow.
Korean friend:Is your Father a King? Why? Because isn’t it so expensive to travel all the way from Africa to study here? I mean it is not cheap, but a King, why? Aren’t Kings the rich people and therefore he can afford it?
Okay I didn’t know what to tackle first, the fact that Africans have jobs, and they get paid and they can make enough money to leave the continent OR that my father was a King. I mean how then else could I be here if not for that mere fact?
Last I checked though, my father was not the head of a Kingdom. No, I am not the daughter of a King.Just a random girl from Kenya who left on an exchange program the same way you did my friend.
” I am really surprised that you can speak English. You have a weird accent though. It is like you are learning the language.” I have to tell you this one pissed me off. Like I am learning the language? How does that sound because child, I have been speaking this language since I can remember. And can we back up a little?To the part that you are surprised that I actually have command of the language? You do know it IS an official language in my country right? Yes Kenya! Yes…Kenyans speak English. YES my friends speak to me in English! We were colonized by the British for Heaven’s sake,or is that news to you too? *EYE ROLL*
To be honest almost everything I did was critiqued by those who had not been out of their own zones and did not know how the rest of the world operated. It made me a little sad for those who were honestly ignorant and sorry about it. It made me judge those who were ignorant and arrogant about it. It made me want to shout at some of them and ask them to bloody use Google because clearly they were not.
You will be happy to know I did not punch anyone and instead I smiled and walked away. My patience was really tried on this trip and I have to say, I might just be a bit more patient than I was 5 months ago.
Round of applause?
Yeah, thank you!