On Kenya

by kenyantraveller

“What’s it like, being a Kenyan and being so far away right now?”

“Well, on any day, being Kenyan feels like you’re juggling 12 fragile plates in the air, but you don’t mind so much, because the guy standing next to you has 16 plates in the air, or the woman next to him has 17 plates and a panga. When you leave, you realise that it doesn’t have to be that hard. You don’t have to be juggling all of that stuff in the air. So you come back and try and tell people – hey, guys! Life doesn’t have to be this hard! Shida hizi zingine ni za kujitafutia! And everyone looks at you like your crazy, because we’ve all lived this way for so long that we just don’t know how else to do it. And that, if anything, is the most frustrating part. Because unless you’re juggling those 15 or 16 plates with everyone else, you feel like you have no legitimacy to criticise people for the way they choose to deal with the stress. But then, you still know that life doesn’t have to be that hard. You can put some of those plates down. You can ask your government or your church or someone to take some of them away. There’s a tension there – a constant negotiation between looking the other way in empathy, and screaming your lungs out in criticism.”