Confused working class Kenyans desperate for 'middle class' tag

Ladies taking a selfie

Making it to the so-called Nairobi’s ‘elite class’ is no walk in the park. In fact, it is not just about building a great career, making lots of money and settling down into family life.

Belonging or being seen to belong to this group has become an obsession for many working class Nairobians. There is a huge number of men and women who will stop at nothing to be considered to belong to the middle class.

While there are different rules to social mobility all over the world, those that Nairobians employ are mind boggling. Thus, it is always easy to spot such desperate wannabes because they seem to have a strange code they live by.

Firstly, most have fake American accents. It does not matter that they went to school in the bundus and that they have never travelled outside the country; they ‘tweng’ like their lives depends on it.

When it comes to Swahili, a wannabe either pretends not to understand or speak the language. And if he/she chooses to try speak it, what you hear is a irritating mixture of bad Swahili and English. You will not miss vexing words and phrases such as I ‘fikad’, ‘semad’, ‘onad’ and other annoying variations.

Secondly, they go for every ‘it’ or exclusive event. It does not matter if they have to sell their kidney or even borrow money from friends; they must attend. And it’s just not about attendance; they use all means necessary to hog attention. They must post evidence for all to see on Instangram, Facebook and Twitter.

These days, all the sit-on–the-grass–and-listen-to-live-music events have become ‘must attend’ events for desperate social climbers all over Nairobi. It does not matter that it’s uncomfortable sitting on the grass and that some of these wannabes are clueless about the music genres they are wiggling their bottoms to.

Social media

Even jazz events which were once only meant for jazz aficionados, have been invaded by all sorts of riffraff. Then to add salt to injury, every time a social climber goes to their idea of an ‘exclusive’ establishment, it must be announced to the world through pictures on social media.

Thirdly, these folks believe that ‘to belong’, you have to go to the right school (and those who didn’t but are desperate ‘to belong’, masquerade as alumni of such institutions), wear the right clothes, live in the right place and know the right people.

Stand out

And do not get me started on how far they go to stand out and look different. To be in the ‘it’ class these days you cannot do what every Tom, Dick and Harry is doing; you have come off as a ‘deep’ fellow.

You cannot be caught reading a ‘regular’ book, it has to be a book by ‘it’ writers like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie even though you flunked literature in high school, and are not a reader by nature.

The only time you are allowed to read a ‘regular’ book is if it is trending internationally, like Fifty Shades of Grey or something.

Further, these social climbers have no friends from the past, every stage they conquer in the social circle means the end of a friendship, all in order to make room for new friends at a higher social level. Anyway, all I can say to you middle class wannabes is more power to you!


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