MID AUGUST 2018
I am very grateful to Colin and Rosemary Morgan for having taken on the task of distributing this 2-weekly news shot on a regular basis. Thanks to Angela, who did it for about 20 years (? Or more!!), who has now retired from this task. (Angela is still doing other things, typing and newsletter production and distribution, that she will retire from on 31st December, so I am still looking for volunteers. Please . . .)
“Wakenya pia wanajidanganya,” I told the fellow sitting on the bus with me. That is “Kenyans are also deceiving themselves . . .”. Before I even finished my sentence, my colleague interrupted me. “Jim. That’s the way the world is now. Kenyans have no choice!” I looked at him. He was right. African people had to pretend to be competent in Western English, or they’d get nowhere. At the same time, they don’t ‘get’ how or why Westerners say what they say in the way that they do. The deception I was referring to was the claim African people make, that they “have no customs or traditions.” But then, my colleague pointed out as our bus drew to a halt, “whenever we talk about our customs, Westerners look down their noses at us, finding our customs to be wrong and primitive. Who wants to concede, all the time, to being wrong and primitive?” “Kwa hivyo, kwa hakika, hakuna njia nyingine, ila kuwa mdanganyifu,” I said. My friend was nodding as he alighted. That is: “there is no other way for Kenyan (African) people to thrive, except by deceiving themselves and others, that they are what they are not.” That was a sobering conversation.
Pray for me to have much patience and wisdom! Let me explain. After 30 years in Africa, I seem to see things that many of my colleagues in the West don’t see. That includes experts, professors, scholars and leaders. Of course, they don’t want to acknowledge being blind! Such people from the West are ‘relating’ to Africa and to Africans, from a distance. They are playing blind-man’s buff, not knowing! If I tell them . . .
Here is a report from a friend, Julia Pring, who visited my home a year ago: “It was delightful to be welcomed at a village home where some twelve orphaned children live and to see first-hand how they live with their housekeeper and guardian (a British missionary) in a very simple but homely African way providing the care and stability that children need without any western influences on their home or daily life in terms of standards of living or anything! The hospitality even extended to their cat coming to keep me company half way through the night!”
The picture below is of a team of young people we recently had visiting us here at Coptic from the USA. (I am not on the picture.)