House of Porridge

My local correspondent Mbuzimoja today forwarded this hilarious story from the Daily Nation (page 17, April 6, 2006) to me, a story about a group of Wazungu (…) from Germany who opened up a food kiosk in BUSIA TOWN (!) “that boasts tea, chapati, potatoes and porridge on its menu”. They call it “House of Porridge”:

foodzungus.jpg

Customers “can only conclude that the foreigners are stranded in Kenya and have opted for the business to raise money for their tickets back home” …. “most people thought the food kiosk was not a business fit for the foreigners, after all they had enough money to start a big venture. Ability is wealth?

Ms Lisa Mueller, Ms Laura Henn and Mr Arno Schulter – all in her mid-twenties – came to Kenya in October 2005 to work as volunteers. The food kiosk, the article says, serves as an income generating project. A neat idea, I think. Why not?

The story reminds me of a Kenyan Lady by the name of Rachel Kamau who runs a nice & comfy Kenyan restaurant in Freiburg, Germany (I’ve mentioned earlier last year).
“If we can make it as foreigners, then the locals have no reason to fail. Nobody can go to a hotel to take food that he does not like simply because it is being sold by foreigners”, Ms Henn is quoted in the article.
Well well well….some ppl have the freedom to choose while others just need to survive the next day. On the other hand, though, my reason for blogging this amusing story is that it highlights the difference in thinking. Whereas these Gaamaaaans just came to Kenya to help and work (and I think I’m not much different from that, at least they are showing this business approach), the typical Kenyan reaction in the first place is “ati, can’t they afford to go home?”.

Sometimes I am so sick of this stereotyped thinking. As much as I never questioned the opening of that Kenyan restaurant in Germany, I sometimes wonder when these “mzungu, mzungu…give me shillingi…” cries will stop whenever a white person enters a black village. Harassment, from the other perspective. Similar to that, it’s like me joining the Kenyan Blogosphere and then ppl approach me and comment like “oh, I didn’t know you are white”. Well, SORRY that God has given me this skin colour?!
I mean, what I am supposed to answer on such comments? Dito Kenyans of Indian Origin – when will we start accepting each other without looking at ancestry or tribal origin? Me, me I am just JKE :-)

8 comments » Write a comment

  1. Mzungu = alot of money!!!!isn’t it .That is the idea or the demeanor the Mzungu in Africa carry themselves with, that they have money, at least most do and you know that is true.So you cannot blame the locals when they see a mzungu doing the unthinkable God forbid the even touch dirt ! That is the stereotype that the history books taught me that mzungu was better, cleaner, his religion was superior etc. Hey these are remnants or rather the results of a race upholding itself as superior for so many century and trying scientifically and otherwise to prove of their superiority. So it is kinda hard to for most people to see the other side of it ,you get what I’m saying? Just like in the USA, a black person is seen as not highly uneducated, ignorant and has to prove over and over again that he/she is just as human as the other person of different color.As a black person I get those stereotypes applied to me daily = fitting the profile. Welcome to the world we live in, it is no different in Kenya. Just because we are called a happy and welcoming Nation does not mean there are noT those who will look at a Mzungu and sneer, try to fit him in the profilec. Yep it is disappointing but racism will never end at least not in this century . Maybe you should read the April New African article on “race & racism”, that explain a little about what is race and racism. Will come back to comment some more..

  2. Irena, thx for the hard copy of New African – will have a look into it asap! So nice :-) THX!
    “Welcome to the world we live in..” <== I've been a gaijin (foreigner) already while growing up in Japan - these differences aren't that new to me. Only: I hear more complains from the other side than from mine.

  3. You sound so ticked of ha!ha! Haiya be careful before they deny you the VIP Lounge at JKIA:-)

  4. Thanks for the story kikuyumoja

    Here is a link to the actual Nation story.

    You mentioned going to a village and having all the kids ask “mzungu, shillingi . . .”, one of those things that I will never experience but can sympathize with completely. I feel Irena’s pain too, as a black person in the Western world, life can be tough and weird sometimes. . .

  5. All the same JKE, I think you should hold your head high, walk proudly with your “whiteness” LOL and don’t give a damn .That is the only way to cope in this world or make a t-shirt with “Mzungu huyu hana pesa, yeye ni student”

  6. Oh wow, thx Ntwiga – I didn’t know they also put this extra article on the net (do they publish all articles?). Nice! :-)

  7. LOL….!

    Stereotypical thinking will never end. It’s just how we deal with it. Same way when I am asked my tribe and people judge me for that. Refusing to see that am an individual and unique.Not a group individuals with similar behaviours….you know what they say about Kikuyus!

    Or when I speak English here in the UK and am commended for speaking so well. Kwani they were expecting me talk in my mother-tongue and need a translator? EEEIISSSHH!

    As for the colour of my skin….I just pass it off jokingly that my tan is permanent. I don’t need a tanning booth or a holiday under the sun! Tihihihi!

  8. Yep JKE, they pretty much have all paper articles online but the stuff in the magazines/specials seems pretty difficult to access. They do not have direct links to the material . . .

    @Mocha,
    My wife and I get all these compliments about “not only do you speak English, you do so very well” from some people whom we met for the first time.

    Thanks for the great post once again.

    She would reply with something along the lines of “thanks, they made us do a crash course in English at the airport when we got here and would not let us in until we were done . . .”

    Ignorance runs both ways I guess.