So I recently wrote an article on the things I dislike about Kenya. TBH, it was pretty easy to write, the things that I dislike came easily to mind and it was great to use it as an outlet. Not wanting to be overally negative or give the wrong idea of home, I’ve also written about what I like about Kenya. It’s kinda hard to write about positive things and this is really the first time I’ve thought about the good stuff, but it’s made me a lot more grateful about living here. Check it out:
1. The Fooooood
Kenya is a crazy melting pot of cultures. That means that it’s also a crazy melting pot of different types of food, and I’m telling you it’s lit.
Indian cuisine, Arabic, English food etc. Not limited to the different types of foods unique to each tribe. There is a lot!
I don’t want to talk about everything, but I will mention some of my favorite foods. I really enjoy Asian cuisine so you’ll see a lot of that.
I use the word ‘lit’ a lot but I do not use it lightly hehe.
No. 1 Chapati.
Chapati (better known as Chapo) is basically a type of “bread/pancake” from India, not too different to Nan.
However, Kenyans have put their own twist on it and cook it sliiiightly differently.
I don’t know how it is cooked, but I will learn one day.
Anyway, it is beyond lit, so much so that anybody who tastes Chapati instantly falls in love with them. Nobody can resist the taste of Chapati. In fact, you can ask anyone who has travelled to Kenya about the litness of Chapati, they will preach its gospel.
Anybody who doesn’t like Chapati is a psychopath and I advise you to steer clear of them. You don’t need that sort of negative energy in your life.
Depending on how they are cooked, they can be crunchy on the outside and semi soft on the inside. They are best eaten when fresh to maximise crispiness and the texture of the batter (?) or dough on the inside. It’s like biting into heaven.
It’s usually eaten with beans (madondo), vegetable etc. We eat it with mince stew and honestly it’s just the best thing ever. They way the Chapati compliments the beefy flavour, texture and juiciness of the mince is just … phenomenal. Honestly.
I think that it is safe to say that Chapati is one of the greatest inventions ever.
No. 2 Chicken tikka, Beef mishkaki, other grilled and well seasoned/spiced meats
Have you ever taken a bite of something and felt like you were slapped by the flavor? Felt like it reached down into your soul and shook something? That’s what Chicken tikka will do to you.
There is this one restaurant called Hashmi’s that does the best bbq meats, nothing in the world like it (or maybe idk, but it’s lit). If you ever visit Nairobi you have to go there. You will not regret it, I mean who wants to miss out getting slapped in the face by flavour?
No. 3 Ugali and Fish/Vegetables (mboga)/Beef Stew
Ugali is a simple meal. It is boiled corn flour/maize meal. You simply boil water, pour flour in and stir until it thickens (adding flour to make it thicker to get that perfect thiccccness).
It is usually paired with veggies, fish, different stews etc. People usually drink fermented milk (called Mala, basically yoghurt without all the flavouring) with it.
The Ugali is pretty simple, but what makes or breaks it is the accompaniment. Together, on their own or with other meals they are ok, but when paired with Ugali the flavour of the accompaniment is taken to another level.
You think this is a joke; deep fried crispy fish with rice is ok, but deep fried crispy fish with Ugali is out of this world.
The plain corn flour doesn’t interfere with flavour at all and simply enhances it. IDK but the contrast between the plain taste does something on your taste buds and every taste is like multiplied by 5.
I personally like to have Ugali with veggies and Mala. It is soooo lit.
The Ugali and veggies is ok, but the fermented milk really brings the taste around, making it sour but super tasty.
No. 4 Chicken Biryani
This list wouldn’t be complete without this.
There was a day I was visiting my Great Aunt and she made this for us.
I simply never so it coming, but since that day I have always craved this meal.
I don’t even know how to describe cause I haven’t had it in a while but;
You basically have a complete meal (minus the veggies). It has the chicken and rice (duh) and a bunch of other things.
The chicken has to be well marinated beforehand and properly cooked. There are also caramelised onions (one of the best things to go with rice) in the combo.
So you have the texture of the chicken (with it’s own taste cause of marination), the tastiness of the onions, the wholesomeness of the rice etc.
All this works together to give a pretty flavourful experience.
I’m really not doing this justice, but it is one of those meals that makes you go wow.
If you can ever have authentic Biryani, go for it. Don’t think twice.
2. Where I live
Depending on where you live, you can enjoy the benefits of living somewhere quiet with fresh air away from the toxic fumes of traffic and of the city.
Our urban sprawl isn’t soo bad. It’s kinda easy to escape the hustle of bussle of the city and be in your own bubble for a bit.
3. Everyone is friendly
I want to start off by saying that Kenyans are NOT polite. They will not smile back, say please or thank you and will probably bump you as you walk past them.
However, if you do stop them, they will help you out. Whether you need to find the bus stop, shopping center or even walk with you for the length of a route.
This is especially amplified in rural areas. People are more willing to help because the sense of community is stronger.
4. The Culture
Colonisation, trade, different tribes etc. etc. Has made Kenya a huuuge melting pot of languages, habits, trades, clothes, foods (as I just mentioned), people etc. etc.
Thanks to this, I’ve been exposed to so many walks of life, so many people, so many cultures … I’m grateful for all this.
I feel like it’s given me a worldview or an appreciation, tolerance for other cultures, peoples points of view and stuff like that.
I believe this has what has been so key for me to connect with different people and understand them, understand why they do things this way and that way, understand that their habits shouldn’t necessarily = X according to my own way of seeing the world.
Life is full of different colors. People do things differently, people do shit you might find weird but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are weird.
I am also grateful to have friends who see life in the same light, life would be boring and super frustrating without y’all.
5. The music/art/youth/creatives scene
There is a lot of cool shit going on. It is fun to be a youth today. I’m not really embedded in the whats happening scene but we have a lot of artists, musicians, instagram models etc. Putting on events, get-togethers, jam sessions etc. etc. And they are pretty fun to attend to. I hope they can somehow become self sustainable and make enough money to support a healthy industry.
If you look on Instagram you’ll get a glimpse into this life.
6. Kenyan Humor
Kenyans are funny. Kenyans are so fucking funny. Some of the memes that come out kill me. I don’t think I’ve laughed as much in recent years.
I think it’s a reaction to how much bullshit we have to deal with day to day, but it is great.
7. The wildlife
I grew up watching a shit ton of wildlife cassettes and we used to visit the Nairobi National park pretty often.
There is a ton of wildlife around and so many opportunities to see them. I think with modern life we are so disconnected from nature and what happens beyond human life.
Living in Kenya presents an opportunity to have balance. To feel and experience
And I’m not talking about being a tourist and going to see these things for the sake of seeing them or ticking some checkbox. I’m talking about appreciation, observation, being fascinated and coexisting. These things are beautiful and majestic. There is nothing quite like being a passive observer and watching nature go on around you.
There is nothing like seeing a lion upclose (not in a Zoo) and seeing it stride in front of you.
You know, when you see these things on TV or in the Zoo, you never get any perspective. You don’t get to see how large and fearsome they really are. You never really get the feeling that these are wild animals that are actually … wild. It sounds weird but I’m sure most of y’all get what I mean.
You don’t know how scary and loud a Hyena’s laugh actually is until you’re close too it. Low key I was terrified when I heard it, I felt this primal fear to run lol.
But if you wanna go to tick some checkbox, no judgment, you do you.
One of my favorite places to go on holiday is the Masai Mara. I think it’s the best place to experience a variety of nature, animals and different types of environments in Kenya.
There is nothing quite like being there, experiencing the smells, the sounds, the heat, the mosquitoes etc. I recommend it and you should try go there atleast once in your life.
I’m praying that I can go there more times in my life.
I would also like to go to Hells Gate, climb Mt Kenya, go Snorkeling in Malindi etc. etc.
There is lots to do! I just hope I’m not so broke in future hehe.
8. The potential
Kenya still has a buttload of potential and is still a growing nation.
I think if we can curb corruption, we as a nation will have a lot of things to benefit from and can live up to our potential.
Some key areas are land, tourism, languages, culture, entertainment, the youth etc. There is a lot!!
I’ll give you an example. Some cities are still growing so if you buy land and let it sit (or better yet build some appartment blocks or affordable housing), you’ll be able to sell it off in 10 years for a lot more. A simple investment strategy.
Kenyans like to build their own houses. This is something foreigners might think is reserved for the super rich is buiding your own house from the ground up. In Kenya that is very much a reality for a lot of people. In fact majority prefer to build their own houses (if they can afford it) to their own design and specifications. Imagine living in something you made for yourself with your perfect lifestyle in mind? Fun right.
I think a lot of sectors are still untapped. In fact, most people simply copy established practices/businesses models from abroad, apply them to the growing sectors and make a killing. It’s that simple.
Honestly, if corruption was not part of the equation, we could be a super competitive nation by now. It holds as back.
9. Some of the smaller cities
Some of the smaller cities are great. You can have a high standard of living an avoid all the bullshit of living in a big city; the traffic, the congestion, the noise, the insecurity.
For eg. I spent one of my holidays in Kisumu. A town built near the Lake Victoria.
It was fucking great. We had fresh fish all the time, the weather was pretty warm, it was easy to get around – infact you could probably cross the entire city in 30min.
It was pretty great.
If I could I would move to a smaller city … we’ll see though.
10. It’s home ya know
As much as some aspects of living in Kenya suck. It’s home. I’ve never felt more natural and relaxed than I have been here.
It’s that sigh of relief and relaxation when you great your taxi driver/family/friends when you arrive at the airport. Anyone who has spent time abroad or in different cultures understands what I mean. The second your subconscious says I’m home everything feels like it falls in place. The old, familiar habits come out, the way you think and look at things …
It’s nice to have people get your jokes without having to explain them. It’s so nice using incomplete sentences and still being understood. It’s nice taking a poo in a toilet you’re so familiar with. These little things add up.