The mzungu doesn’t really care for Africa

His loyalties lie elsewhere, with his home country, even if he pretends they don’t

Unlike the long-term resident, the expatriate is a fleeting chap who has yet to establish any profound loyalties to the country that hosts him.

True, he likes Kenya, in an abstract sort of way.  You know, he likes the lions (not that he sees any, as they’ve all been speared) and the rhinos (ditto), but he’s not deeply found that his soul is attuned to anything like The Kenyan Dream (whatever that might be).

He hasn’t bought into Kenyan history, and he doesn’t feel that his very being has been offended when people criticise Kenyan ways of life, its politics and culture.

Indeed, he is an Englishman or an American bumbling through two naïve years in a foreign country, where he half-heartedly samples the food, the nightlife and occasional conversations with ‘real Kenyans’.

His loyalties lie elsewhere, with his home country, even if he pretends they don’t.

If he’s an Englishman, he feel profoundly offended when his country is characterised as ‘the former colonial master’, even if it’s true. He feels that the whole 100 or so years of colonial oppression should just disappear from the record because, well, ‘I wasn’t there then, and I’m not of that generation’.

Forgive and forget.  But what this really means is, of course, ‘Stop reminding me of how my culture remains complicit in the act of treating Kenya like a playground’.  It’s like pretending there was no Ice Age simply because you like ice-cream.

And so, when the expatriate’s ‘leader’ comes to Kenya in the form of, say, the UK’s prime minister Theresa May, the expatriate will, even if he voted for a different political party than her Tory Party, become very upset if he hears his Kenyan colleagues ask questions like: ‘Who does she think she is?’, ‘Isn’t it patronising that the UK has someone called the Minister for Africa?’, or ‘Where on Earth did that awkward woman learn how to dance?’

The expatriate will feel that his whole existence is being questioned, even though it’s glaringly obvious that, yes, Theresa May does dance like a plucked Marabou Stork standing on a burning oven.

In response, the irritated expatriate will feebly offer some sort of ignorant reply such as, ‘At least I know she was properly elected’, at which point he gets rightly told off.

This is what xenophobia is at its worst: it’s the being in someone else’s country and, when push comes to shove, revealing your prejudices against that host. Even the most liberal expatriate is often like this.

It would be best if Theresa May didn’t come to Kenya, especially bringing, as she has, The Scotch Whisky Association with her, to trade. It reminds us all too much of how, in north America, native Americans were given whisky by whites in exchange for land (grabbing).

Best, really, if the UK just acted a bit better than it always has and still does. Best, really, if the expatriate spent a little more time trying to understand and respect his host, Kenya.

 Would you like to get published on Standard Media websites? You can now email us breaking news, story ideas, human interest articles or interesting videos on: [email protected]co.ke.

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Sde.co.ke


JOIN THE CONVERSATION


next