Christan Leonard
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Lessons in Kenyan Culture

July 6, 2010 @ 2:09 PM | Permalink

10 odd ways my life has changed

1.)   I’m writing this post while sitting under my mosquito net.

2.)   I take showers using a bucket.  My host mom is awesome and heats up the water for me so I don’t freeze. 

3.)   I wear a lheso everyday.  (See below for explanation of the lheso)

4.)   I am constantly told I am too skinny and that I need to eat more so I become good and fat.

5.)   9 pairs of my underwear are currently hanging on my headboard, drying, God forbid anyone see them hanging on the clothes line.

6.)   I see monkeys and baboons at least twice a week.  The monkeys are cute though they have shockingly bright colored genitalia.  The baboons look like they want to eat me.

7.)   I am endlessly teased for my inability to properly eat with my hands. 

8.)   Mexican soap operas have some how managed to work their way into my life.

9.)   I am frequently referred to as “the guest of honor” or by other such titles that make me slightly uncomfortable. 

10.)                  I shake hands with people at least 40 times a day.  I wonder if this is what it’s like to be a celebrity. 

So the other day I bought a lheso.  A lheso is a piece of cloth, well sort of two because you cut it in half, that pretty much all women in Kenya wear.  Some women use them to cover their heads and others tie them around their necks to make skimpy dresses.  I usually do the latter when I get home from work though at this moment I’m actually wearing it as a cape.  All lhesos have a proverb on the bottom.  Mine says “kuombeana mema ndio kupendana” which roughly translates as “to pray for someone is to show love.”  I bring this up because it reminded me of something cool I learned during my first Kiswahili lesson.  My professor told us that until the invention of the television and other modern forms of entertainment, there was no word in Kiswahili for “love”.  People did not day “I love you.”  He explained further, “in Swahili culture, love is not something you say, it’s something you do.”

I thought that was pretty cool.  I didn’t know what the proverb on my lheso meant when I bought it but now I’m even happier that I chose this one. 



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