I like to take at least one weekend day to write about something non-work related. Today, I thought I’d teach you how to respond to 80% of the questions you’ll be asked if you ever visit Kenya. What’s more, I can do that with just one word, Mzuri.
You see, at some point in every Kenyan child’s life, somewhere around the age of 3 or 4, they’re apparently taught what to say if they ever see a Mzungu. That phrase, which must be yelled with tremendous enthusiasm is, “How are you?”
After you answer with Mzuri, which means good, the next question will always be, “How are you?” The following question will usually also be, “How are you?” In fact, it’s pretty common for a group of children to repeatedly yell that over and over, regardless of what you answer, until you’re out of sight. Of course, they may also decide to join you and wander a mile down the road while holding both your hands. One kid who was maybe 5 years old saw me from a good 50-75 yards away and after shouting, “MZUNGU!”, went into a dead sprint until he caught up with me. At which point he asked, “How are you?”
Of course, if you really want to freak them out, you could respond back with something like, “Mzuri. Habari asabuhi?” (Good. How are you this morning?). At that point, some will answer you with “Mzuri”, but others will burst out laughing and start yelling that there’s a Mzungu speaking Kiswahili. By the way, if a Kenyan is laughing at you and you ask what they’re laughing at in Kiswahili (Unachecka nini?), they won’t answer you and will instead just laugh more.
Tomorrow is Market Day in Kiminini, when there are live performances to promote products. I’ve seen these in passing, but have never gone to check them out up close. Weather permitting, I’ll head over tomorrow and take some pictures. I also hope to show some of the marketing mock ups for the water filters, so make sure to come back and see them. In the meantime, enjoy your weekend.