Monday, October 27, 2008

Procrastination = Blog Post

I should be doing the following things instead of updating my blog: finding a job for next semester, finding an apartment for next semester, writing e-mails to women’s rights NGOs in Nariobi, or reading my book for a paper (“The Black Man’s Burden: Africa and the Curse of the Nation-State”). But instead I’m writing, so feel lucky. :-) Thoughts:

1) I hope Obama wins. Regardless of how I voted, the rest of my stay in Kenya will be much more pleasant if he wins. If he loses, I will probably be stoned... just kidding. Kind of. It’s crazy, because Obama’s father came from Kenya, people here consider him “Kenya’s Son”. In a tribal mindset, it makes sense. If someone comes from your village, you are “related”. Therefore, Obama comes from the “village” of Kenya, and is directly connected to the people of Kenya. The less-educated of the bunch even think that Obama will solve all of their problems, because he will somehow care more about Kenya and give them money.
Regardless, it’s a conversation that comes up several times a day for me. They ask who I’m voting for, and insist that I tell them. Once I do, I get a broad smile, handshake, or even hug. Sometimes people don’t even call us “mzungus” on the street anymore, but just yell out “Obama!” as we pass.
It’s amazing to see how excited people are about him. And it’s not just because he’s Kenyan. I’ve had numerous people tell me that if even America elected a black man, then maybe there was hope. Hope. Even an ocean away, there’s hope that black skin will no longer prevent people from having chance at greatness.

2) It’s so shocking how self-aware advertising is here. I just came from the mall, and in that 10 minutes I saw two ads that made me stop in my tracks and stare incredulously. The first one had a picture of a lighter skinned African male. It said in huge letters, “For Men Who Want to Go Farther.” It was an ad for skin-lightening cream. It’s horrifying to me that anyone would want to lighten their beautiful deep brown skin, but it’s true. Men who are lighter to go farther.
The second ad was on television, and had an African woman walking through a village with a basket on her head. As the commercial went on, she moved through different backgrounds and ended up in a European looking city... with a cell phone in her hand. Interesting insights into the development equals modernity mindset, eh?

3) Other random things: My nose piercing got infected because of the water in Kitui. I’m registering for classes for next semester on Wednesday. I think I’m going to Nakuru this weekend, where I can see Lake Nakuru (flamingos!), Thompson’s Falls, and the Equator. It’s rainy season here, which means it rains every afternoon for an hour or so (less dust, tons of mud). I went to a children’s home with Jess this weekend for AIDs orphans who are also HIV positive, held an HIV+ baby, and didn’t get sad about it until hours later. I eat toast for almost all of my meals that aren’t out; I should work on that.

Comment and let me know how you’re doing!


Emily McKnight said...

I'm sitting in Paris thinking of you! I haven't talked to you in ages Erin... it makes me sad.

Justin said...

The skin lightening thing blows my mind, it makes since and I understand why it exists, but what a harsh reality. But I guess that kind of defines Africa.

Jenelle said...

Wait how did I miss that you pierced your nose????
Rock that procrastination!

Bethany said...

My nose piercing never got infected.

I am the superior twin. :)

Gary said...

My nose piercing only got infected when I resumed my cocaine use.



I would be curious to know whether these wacky advertisements were locally produced or whether they are the product of American or European advertising agencies. I suppose that it probably doesn't matter either way, given that the ads likely arose from research that suggested Kenyans value light skin and a European life style. All of which perhaps gives the lie to the promise of Pan-Africanism.

I like flamingos. Them's good eatin'!

Kate said...