Catastrophic: Mzungu poor imitation of ‘kitu kidogo’

The expatriate is, as we all know, a law-abiding chap who respects the country he's in, but we hear that there remain certain 'transgressor expats' who, given the chance, will attempt to cheat the system.

These are usually the two-year contract expatriates – many of them teachers – who, knowing they're only briefly passing through the country, feel that, 'What the hell, we might as well live as Kenyans live for a couple of years'. Unfortunately, they don't live how Kenyans really live, but rather according to their stereotype of how Kenyans live, and they of course believe that all Kenyans give little bribes to bend the rules. Consequently, they try their own money-saving tricks.

Most obviously, they do this when entering national game parks, where there are three levels of charges: 'Citizen' ('inexpensive'); 'Resident' ('relatively inexpensive'); 'Foreign National' ('really very ridiculously expensive indeed, like six hundred times what a Kenyan pays'!)

The expatriate himself is fine, as he pays Resident rates and his paperwork is tediously in order. The problem comes when his relatives or friends from abroad – those 'Foreign Nationals' – visit, especially if they've visited Kenya once before and were last time disappointed by the 1970s lodges and game parks full of cattle and dead game. Such visitors object to paying sixty-odd-dollars and so, in their arrogance (they of course all believe, as all tourists do, that the country they're visiting should be run for their benefit), they either exercise their perfectly legitimate right to visit places that don't have silly charges, or they try to play sly tricks at the gate.

If as a Kenyan citizen you have visited a game park since you left school, you might have seen at the park gates a tour van halted there, with beige-clad, wide-hat wearing whiteys clustering around an unfortunate KWS employee's window, saying, 'I won't pay sixty dollars; I'm a resident'.

Now, sometimes it's true, and they could be legitimate residents. However, I can almost guarantee that out of every group of, say, five EuroAmerican whiteys claiming to be resident expatriates, only two are, especially at Easter and Christmas. The others are tourists, recently arrived, seeking to save a few pennies. The clues are always there: their clothes are too neatly ironed; their skin is too pale or too sunburnt; they're too enthusiastically photographing every minor antelope in sight. And so on.

Pathetically, they'll try a couple of words of Swahili that their genuine expatriate hosts have taught them for this purpose, and they might even go so far as to wave around a photocopy of some other genuine expatriate's 'Alien ID Card' in the hope that the KWS employee will fail to notice.

To the KWS' great credit, they seem to have almost eliminated this fraud (for fraud is what it is), and to their equally great credit seem to laugh off the nonsense while still getting their money. To their great discredit, the EuroAmerican expatriate still persists with this nonsense, failing to realise that the authorities know it happens.

 

JOIN THE CONVERSATION


next