Tuesday, 23 September 2008

'Kenyans are unfriendly/thieves/mercenaries*' (*delete as appropriate)

Travelling to Nairobi with a bus load of Ugandan postgraduate students was an interesting lesson in the attitude of an African nation towards one its neighbours. Of course neighbourly stereotypes are nothing new. France is to Britain as Belgium is to France and so on. However, it seemed to me that Ugandans had primarily reserved this type of scorn for the tribal groups within the country, and not for the other nations on their doorstep. Apparently I was very wrong.

For four days of a working trip to discuss the problems facing graduate researchers, poor old Kenya was dismissed as having bad food, dirty hotels, corrupt police (ahem), ancient cars, shady shopkeepers and expensive beer. The assassination of the character of Kenyans was even more brutal. It seemed that nearly a whole week without matooke was too much for the homesick Ugandans on the bus (the delicious Kikuyu food irio was summarily dismissed) and had triggered a backlash against their economically more developed neighbour.

However, as we crossed the border at the dead of night to return to the motherland there was no collective sigh of relief from our party. Instead we found the Ugandan immigration check-point closed as the relevant official had fallen into a booze-fuelled slumber and was nowhere to be found. As the hours ticked by (five in total) the rage of the group, previously so damming of Kenya, found a new target. 'These Ugandans are so lazy' a friend remarked, 'someone call the Internal Affairs Minister and we get them all fired' said a lawyer (the Minister was indeed called but that's another story), 'our civil servants are a disgrace' said another, and most tellingly 'this would never happen in Kenya' said absolutely everyone.

1 comment:

Samuel Bostock said...

My vote would go to Tanzanians!