Easter is around the corner and probably you have made plans to go camping or to visit your relatives in ocha (Kenyan slang for rural areas). Probably you are not sure what to expect. You have probably been told to carry antiseptic, anti-malaria, anti-histamine, anti-what-you-may-call-it, hand sanitizers, tons of bottled water. However, you are never told the practical stuff…
Fashion: Ladies have a lesso (a.k.a Kanga) especially if you engage in any work around the homestead or in the shamba (garden) to protect your clothes. It will also serve as great head support when you go to fetch water a few (kilo)metres away. In case you forget to carry a towel, do not worry. Due to its absorbent nature, you can also use the lesso as a towel. Do not worry, as long as the weather is good, it will dry up pretty fast. After your trip, you could sew it into something fancy like a skirt or bag depending on the quality of the fabric.
Canvas shoes are a staple. They are versatile footwear that can be worn with a great pair of jeans and can be used to make a fashion statement with skirts and dresses alike. Did I forget to mention that they are super-comfortable ?
Food: In case you are used to preparing ugali with Brand X maize meal on gas or electric cooker, then preparing ugali might be a challenge. Ensure that you practise with whole maize flour over a jiko. If you would like to up their game, you can also dabble with brown ugali made from millet or whole maize flour mixed with wheat flour and cassava. Make sure that the mixture boils enough and remove all the lumps lest you are forced to call on Uncle Buddy to lend you one of his cake mixers.
They say, one man’s meat is another man’s poison. Let’s replace meat with veggies. In most parts of western Kenya, sukuma wiki (kale) and cabbage are eaten once or twice a week (if you are lucky). People feed on what is normally classified as weeds by the western world.
Electronics: The local governor, councilor, senator has failed to fulfill his/her election promises on providing the amenities to your doorstep so you still have to wait another couple of years to have your leg pulled. Chances are you will want to preserve your gadget’s battery life. This translates to reducing the amount of time you spend your favourite social media accounts.
In the mean time, you can invest in Mother Nature’s free energy. D.light has great torches that enable you charge your phone and other electronics as long as the plug-in works. Plan B? Buy a mulika mwizi. It can be charged at your friendly KPC-enabled neighbour’s house where you will charged a minimum fee of KES 20.
Most importantly, chill out and enjoy the simple things in life. You will discover the importance of small talk without the need to click “share” and RT. This is your chance to actually learn your mother tongue and to blend in and trace your roots.
It’s never that serious.