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Reverse culture shock is a curious phenomenon that affects Kenyans from the Diaspora coming back home after a long sojourn.
One may be fooled that they have the native advantage, but being born in Kenya, and going to school here is no guarantee that you will pick up from where you left. Two men rocked in, one from Europe and the other from the US. They had been away for 15 years.
They left when Nairobi was a city of one million people, everyone ‘fuatad Nyayo’ and red phone booths dotted the city. They are now grown men with families, coming back home for an abrupt visit necessitated by the death of a relative. They are terribly homesick, desperate to reconnect but quickly realize that the city moved on. They find themselves totally out of place.
Diasporans usually go through several stages of reverse culture shock. After a week of unchecked generosity, the realization descends that it cannot be sustained.
Nairobi is not cheap. But the thing they all underestimate is the Kenyan dedication to partying. Eat all the meat you can and drink till you drop. It seems quite homely and refreshing until you finally check out the night scene and come to realize that Kenyans do not let off even on a Tuesday.
A dinner invite that was supposed to start at 6pm, kicks off at 8.30pm followed by ‘polite’ drinks that bring the ambience up to speed at about midnight.
Just when they think it is a wrap, they are shuttled to a club, party hard until 4am, move to a residential local for ‘one for the ditch’ and before they can say ‘tosha gari’, it is 6am and kids are trooping to school. In a daze they crawl back to their hosts’ house and all they can says is “Kenyans can drink”!
By Oyunga Pala. Read more about the writer at; Website: oyungapala.com | Twitter: @realoyungapala