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The Fake Facebook Comments

A story is told of a young man. Let’s
call him Otim. Otim was to travel to the US for the very fast time and, out of
excitement, updated his Facebook status. Sure, many of us do the same, only
that our Otim here updated his status two weeks ahead of his trip. The comments
were almost instant, with many congratulating him, some asking what he was
going to do in the US and others asked which state it was that he was going to.
Social media can be a downright silly place to be in so some of the comments
bordered on the indescribable. One stood out: Otim’s old school friend demanded
he checks on him while in the US. “Make sure you call me up when you get here,
looking forward to seeing you again after so many year,” the comment
read. 

Otim’s ‘generous’ friend who put this
outstanding comment gave him his home address in the US and email address in
case he needed any help. (By the way, the home address was one that existed).
He then offered to continue with the chat off Otim’s timeline to the
inbox.  Three days to his trip, as he went by doing some shopping in
downtown Kampala, Otim bumped into his “US friend” trying to run some errands.
Shocked at the sight of the guy who he thought was in the US, Otim tried to
convince himself that this could either be his brother or a look alike. But the
shock on his friend’s face at the sight of Otim gave him in faster than water
soaks cotton. Otim’s hilarious narration of the event inspired this blog post.
I came to work in Nairobi a
year-and-a-half ago from The Netherlands. Like Otim, I updated my Facebook
status about how excited I was (not that I was that excited because I had my
own crazy opinion of Nairobi). My excitement was from the fact that Nairobi is
a couple of hours away from home and that I could easily go to Uganda to see my
people and get back faster and cheaper than while I was in Europe. The reaction
to my update was huge, with many of my Kenyan friends and Ugandan friends
living in Kenya asking me to let them know when I arrived, if I needed any
help, suggesting that we could go ‘do’ coffee or lunch and inquiring about
where my next home in Nairobi would be. In Nairobi, just like Kampala, you are
judged based on where you live. Places like Westelands, Lavington, Upperhill et
cetera harbour a certain class of people, so do places like South C and 
Langata. Same as in Kampala. Kololo, Muyenga, Buziga etc are places for those
who have the money. I was so flattered but little did I know that one and half
years down the road, I would never meet these people. I came to Nairobi, saw
it, enjoyed it and found my way around it but I am yet to meet all those who
commented on my status update that day, and continue to occasionally comment on
many of my updates.

Now, I am not here to rant about my
Kenyan Facebook friends, but to share some of my interesting experiences in
Kenya, particularly Nairobi. My Facebook friends are too busy and I don’t blame
them. I am glad that at least we are friends on Facebook. That’s good enough.
Beautiful Nairobi City. Photo Credit: www.nairobitoday.co.ke
Back in Uganda, I had heard all sorts
of stories about Nairobi. Scary stories. Talk about car jerks in broad day
light, shootings at residential gates as people drove in, jumping onto a
speeding matatu and having to know how to speak “Sheng” (a blend of Swahili and
English) in order to survive.
I don’t remember hearing anything
positive save for the nice building and good roads. Sure, most of these things
are not true. With all these at the back of my mind, I always prayed never to
find myself in Nairobi for a long-term stay, especially employment or
education. It’s ironical because these are the exact reasons I am now in
Kenya—to work and study. But food comes first at any one time.
Let’s whet the appetite.
The Food 
My first shock came with the food. I
love food and I love it in variety. Uganda has all the foods you can imagine.
Fresh and tasty. Kenya being a neighbour, I thought it wouldn’t be a problem
getting the food I loved. Wrong. So freaking cultural shock. On day one at
work, I went out for lunch with a couple of colleagues from my Unit. At the
eatery, they all made their orders on a reflection. “Ugali na Nyama”. I asked
the waiter to give me five minutes to think through the menu. These guys didn’t
have to look at the menu. As the waiter brought their orders, I was shocked to
see ‘Posho’—the very white one every girl in boarding school lived to
curse—with ‘Mchomo’ (roast meat) and collard greens, the very renowned ‘sukuma
wiki’ (apparently, it is aptly named so to mean ‘pushing the week’ as it is a
common dish that helped many peasant families live on back in the days).
At this point, everyone had a plate of
food in front of them except me. I had to place my order. I asked for chicken
and rice with soup. I repeated soup loudly incase he missed it. This amused my
colleague, with one sarcastically joking that, “She is a typical Ugandan; they
love soup! This statement would make lots of sense in the coming months.
To cut my food story short, I got to
learn more about Kenyan foods and fell in love with ‘Mukimo’ and the fish but
not with Ugali. I don’t even intend to. Since I am not a fun of red meat, I am
happy to continue enjoying the fish. I found out the foods grown and eaten in
different regions of Kenya and got rid of the stereotype about the “Ugali na
Nyama” being the only food known to and loved by Kenyans. A thing which many
Kenyans are yet get rid of, a similar stereotype about Matooke (mashed
plantains) being loved and eaten by all Ugandans. My Kenyas friends, not all
Ugandans eat matooke. Many of you travel and stop in Kampala and your opinion
of Uganda is informed by the experiences in Kampala where the predominant tribe
is Baganda. Yes, a muganda’s meal is incomplete without matooke, just like a
Musoga man has no meal without boiled sweet potatoes, and my Northern
connection people wouldn’t go without peanut. Uganda is a huge country. Oh, the
other thing: while yams, sweet potatoes, cassava form part of the main course
meal in Uganda, it is a different story in Kenyan—they are eaten for breakfast.
Yes Breakfast!
The Matatu (s)
Whenever I travel to a new country, I
enjoy trying out their public means of transport because it’s usually
affordable and it helps me have an idea of the realities among the citizens,
especially the common man from the chats, lamentation and jokes shared. It’s
exactly what I did in Nairobi. My command of Swahili is not so good but I can
communicate and engage in a simple discussion.  Well, for a Ugandan, the
thought of using these buses or commuter taxis in Nairobi is enough torture.
Many of my friends who have been to Nairobi and have attempted to use them
complain about the loud music that they play, the speed and the fact that the
conductors collect money as soon as the bus takes off. In Kenya, you’ve got to
pay your fare whether you will reach your destination or not. In Uganda, the
story is different. You stop the ‘taxi’  lazily with an attitude, get in as
slowly as you can and only pay when you are close to your destination.
The clincher with Kampala is that you
have the liberty to stop the taxi at any point on the road and yell at the
conductor and the driver if the vehicle stopped a few inches past where you
wanted to, regardless of whether the driver had a parking spot or no. I was
told that the people from Mombasa are the ones who board matatus like Ugandans.
I am yet to find out why and confirm this.
Now, this might sound ridiculous but I
prefer the Kenyan Matatus, save for the two occasions that I almost broke my
legs and specs while jumping off. The thing is, I thought that the matatu had
stopped, only for it to move as I was putting my first leg on the ground. It
was a gross experience but a learning one too. I am told that it’s necessary to
go through it to learn the hard way and prevent future falls that could be
fatal.
But if you are the time consummate,
speed is everything with Kenyan matatus. They fill up so fast, the fare rarely
changes. In Uganda, a light drizzle will see the fare triple and commuters have
no business complaining. Kenyans also give a receipt when you pay. The best
part of it all is that they do not stop anywhere, anyhow to drop off or pick
passengers except at their designated bus stops. Now I like that kind of order.
I am an ardent fan of Kenya Bus Service (KBS) buses and occasionally those from
Westlands that play the coolest reggae music as they get into town. I do not
mind the Kenyan matatus at all because unlike in my country where you must know
“Luganda” to feel so comfortable in a taxi (Matatu), in Nairobi, you only have
to know the bus number to your destination and make sure you have money. You
don’t have to talk much. In Kenya, a taxi is an equivalent of “Special hire”.
The taxis in Uganda are what are known as Matatu in Kenya or Daladala in
Tanzania.
The learning environment
I am enrolled at one of the
Universities in Nairobi and it’s extremely interesting to be a foreign student
in Kenya. When I mention that I am Ugandan, students smile and some whisper
Museveni. I wonder what I have got to do with Museveni besides him being my
president. But I realized that he has this weird popularity in Kenya. Many
Kenyans laugh at his accent when speaking Swahili, others at his jokes of
having his cows stolen by the pokot while others simply enjoy the jokes that
the media makes of him. The learning is quite interesting because students
identify me as the “Ugandan girl” and some ask if I personally know Anne
Kansime.
This school environment has taught me
how to differentiate Kenyans based on their tribes just by the way they speak.
Not so different from Uganda. For instance, some Luo have challenges with “sh”
and so they could say something like “fis” to means “fish”, some Kikuyu just
like the Baganda of Uganda use  ‘L’ and ‘R’ interchangeable. For instance,
saying “bring’ would instead become “bling” and the Kamba are as lavish with
the letter “M” as a Nigerian would be with their age that they fix it almost
every where ‘mboy’ for “moy”, ‘mbig’  for “big.” The some Luhya
have “ko” which people make fun of and would say “Niambieko” instead of
“Niambie” etc. I am amazed by the diversity and I respect their “normal”. I
appreciate these differences and yearn to learn as much as I can from these
people. School has made me realize the differences in speech among many
Africans and made it easy for me to identify a Kenyan’s way of speech and
connotation regardless of how polished their English may be. No wonder it’s
also easy for Kenyans to tell a Ugandan from the accent.  Of course, I
have also learnt that the word “imagine” can be placed anywhere in a sentence
depending on how sad or interesting a conversation is. It’s used to express
shock, excitement , anger, joy… name it.

The Tribal
Jokes
Many of us only get to hear about Luos and Kikuyus as
if Kenya is only made up of those two tribes. Well, I will not get into the
nitty gritty of this, but will stick to the jokes that are made about them. The
luo take up the bigger chunk of this, because they are said to be a proud lot
of people. There is a funny joke that Luos do not drive Toyota Vitzs and that
if someone driving a vitz hooted while on the road and a luo was driving next
to them, The luo will lower their car window and say that this……. “people driving vitz are not supposed to hoot
because unlike other cars that get log books when purchased, a receipt is given
for a purchase of a vitz. So be patient and wait for the real cars to move, the follow in silence

Another silly joke is summarized in this picture below. About the Kikuyus, the
jokes revolve around money and how they take up any opportunity to make money
and that for one to prove that a Kikuyu is dead, you need to drop a coin on the
floor. And if the corpse doesn’t show any signs of movement, then the person is
indeed dead. Not funny but those are some of the jokes made to emphasise their
love for money. Nothing is taken so seriously among the Kenyans, these are
jokes that have found their was to high platforms manned by comedians like “ThechurchHill Show”.

Received via Whatsupp. If you know the source, please let me know so that I can give the credit.

My Cab guy
I could write about so many things other interesting
things in Nairobi, but I will stop at this one because it’s one of the most
interesting. I met this cab guy a few weeks after I settled into Nairobi. He
was one of those cabs you call out randomly and then take his mobile number and keep
calling him when you need to be dropped to places occasionally. This guy is the
most hilarious man I have met in Nairobi. I do not need to buy news papers to
know what’s going on in Nairobi. He will give me the latest updates with a
sizzling touché to them and even add more details using his own theories. He is
one of the most punctual cab guys I know and he keeps his word. I consult him
when I have to travel somewhere within Kenya and he advices on the safety and
expectations. He has recommended me to visit a couple of places and has taken
me to some of them. Each trip comes with new stories and so much laughter. He
has been in Nairobi for years and driven his taxi for years too, so he knows
the entire city like his palm. His advice is, never bully a Taxi man in Nairobi
or refuse to pay his fare and threaten him because when he takes you to police,
without listening to what transpired, the Taxi man will be favoured and you will be
fined heavily. The police are always on their side.  

Bottom line, this blog is to tell you never to get taken up or overly excited by comments that people make on your Facebook updates. Many write them
just for the sake of writing, very few are honest. If you have to travel, make
your own arrangements so that an invite from a friend is simply a bonus. You do
not want to get a shock of your life in a foreign country. I know all my
friends in Uganda would host me with Open arms :-). No doubt!! I thank you who
would and those with the desire to but wouldn’t for your generosity and
honesty. For now, I have so many Kenyan friends. I guess more than I really need. I am happy that I get to meet and talk to them often. 

Citizen Journalists: The “Watchdogs” during the 2010 FIFA World cup.

Technological innovation is taking place at a breath-taking pace. Simple, open source internet-based applications and services designed to enhance on-line collaboration are now available to the wider public at little or no cost at all. These new online services known as Web 2.0 applications have enabled people, especially citizen Journalists to collaborate remotely in creating, sharing, networking, lobbying and publishing information about the FIFA 2010 worldcup . The 2010 FIFA world cup which is currently taking place in South Africa comes at a point when the use and application of web 2.0 tools has been adapted by many African people.
Globally, technological development has taken the place of face-to-face interaction; with an increasing range of devices for communicating and disseminating information. It is evident that the world is changing rapidly and African Media needs to catch up with the technological revolution. Africa cannot oppose the rise of this technology and the investment in “new and digital media”. But because of the low literacy levels, limited skills and high costs, it seems to be a fantasy than a reality to promote a larger use of online media in Africa. Never the less, this has not kept those who can access and use the technologies/web applications from making the best use of them during this 2010 FIFA worldcup.
Twitter an interactive micro blogging platform based on open publication of 140 character messages is one of the most popular web 2.0 tool being used to share information across the globe about the world cup. Being the largest sporting event in the world, twitter introduced the idea of having a picture of a ball after every tweet that bears the hush tag for the worldcup (#worldcup).
Facebook a privately owned social online networking website having users who can request for or add friends and send them messages as well as update their personal profiles in a chronological order to notify friends about themselves is another powerful tool being used by thousands of both soccer and non-soccer lovers during this 2010 FIFA world cup . It’s on these platforms that you find the latest updates about the different games in terms of the fixture, the winning teams, the “avoidable mistakes ” made during the different games, the online links to follow and watch the games, the vuvuzela discussions and people’s personal opinion about game.
We cannot ignore the blog, a type of website usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Many bloggers worldwide are having their blogs populated with the world cup event from all spheres; socially, politically and from an economic point of view.
A number of other tools like Youtube for sharing videos, flickr for photos and RSS for syndication are also being used. However, how are Africans benefiting from this worldcup and the various technologies?
The need to invest in citizen journalism and involve citizens in policies that affect them is now evident with the ongoing 2010 FIFA worldcup. The use of web 2.0 tools has enhanced real time communication, improved information sharing and networking. It is very important for different African governments to take advantage of these platforms to improve on key sectors electronically like health, education, governance and business. Each one of us can be a watch dog in our own societies or localities by reporting and sharing information on issues that affect us but have been left out by mainstream media. We are all citizen Journalist in one way or another.

The writer is a trained Citizen journalist