Mzungu in Mtongwe
This blog documents my work as an intern with the ...
So I have to admit it, I’m a complete sucker for inter-lingual puns. I find them hilarious.
The Kiwahili word for chicken is “kuku” and there’s a place across from the FSD office called Kenchick Chicken. Can you guess their tag line? “We’re ‘kuku’ about chicken!”
English is commonly spoken in Kenya, especially by people in urban areas, so much so that a lot of their TV shows are part in English, part in Kiswahili. So many English words have been adopted into the language that locals frequently don’t even know the original Kiswahili words. This is particularly handy in the ocean where if I yell “sharky” people will know perfectly well that I mean shark. Unfortunately this does not work quite as well for “liony” since the Kiswahili word for “lion” is “simba”. Thank you Disney once again for ripping off foreign cultures to make blockbuster films.
On a less ridiculous note, the week before last I took some pictures of Undungu Ni Kufaana, a woman’s group that feeds orphans and vulnerable children lunch twice a week. Some of my favorites are posted below.
I entered this one in the FSD photo contest. They’ll announce the winner next week and although I didn’t get the most votes I still have a chance to win. I actually got an e-mail from FSD today asking if they could use it in some promotional materials and the girl said it was her favorite so hopefully that means I’ll win and my organization will get an additional grant.
For those of you that voted for me, you are my true friends and I will cherish you always. Family, since none of you managed to vote, upon my return home you will all be receiving tacky souvenirs that repeatedly say “jambo” and can never be turned off.
This woman amazes me. Her name is Joyce and not only is she a member of Undungu Ni Kufaana but she also volunteers at a school called St. Stephen’s and she’s part of a woman’s forum at my host organization that works to keep girls in school. I don’t know how she has the energy for it. I also have no idea why the vertical pictures insist on being so huge.
The weekend before last I finally went to the beach. The other FSD interns and I went down to Diani for our midterm retreat and other than the fact that afterwards the skin on my thighs more closely resembled an uncooked steak than human flesh, it was wonderful. I’ve really enjoyed Mtongwe for the most part but it was definitely nice to get a little break and not have to be stared at every time I left the house. My appearance has even brought a few children to tears. I guess I don’t have it so bad though, one of the other interns is Chinese and every time he walks by kids stop whatever they’re doing to do kung fu moves in the air. People don’t call him “mzungu”, they call him Jackie Chan. I really hope to get a video of this at some point but as of yet it hasn’t happened. He doesn’t know any form of martial arts but whenever people try to hassle him he just stares quietly for a few seconds and they back off. I’m a little jealous.
So anyways we swam in the Indian Ocean, watched the sunrise, took mud baths, stargazed, played cards and maybe best of all, ate American food. I cooked most of the meals and I’d forgotten how much I love to cook and even more how I much I love to have control over what I eat. Swahili food is great but I wouldn’t say no to some cheese or a salad every once in a while.
This past week was pretty calm. I read three books, sent a few slightly incoherent letters, mailed some postcards and wrote god knows how much for work and in my states of mild delirium. Yeah, I have a lot of down time in the evenings. It can be a little frustrating but for once I’m actually making a dent in my summer reading list. I’m also teaching my host siblings French. It’s pretty adorable.
I just killed a mosquito by clapping my hands together. I’ve never done that before. It was a little gross. I probably have over 40 bites on my body right now, not exaggerating at all, and I’ll take a little squashed mosquito over a bite any day.
Yesterday I randomly ended up at a casino with some Pease Corps people and I won 7,050 Ksh at blackjack. Granted, that’s only about $90 but it made up for the money I lost the one other time I was in a casino in Monaco. I’m thinking it might be a wise career change.