254: A Snapshot in Culture created by Neema Rowe
Thank you to all the family and friends who sculpted the culture I grew up in and love so dearly. You are the inspiration behind every page in this book.
Introduction 254 is the country code that will allow you to call Kenya from another country. Much like the code, this series invites you to connect with the expanding Kenyan diaspora. Each portrait aims to reflect the essence of each individual, and as a collection, give you a quick glance into our eclectic culture. Through words and phrases that bounce between Swahili and English, the expression we make, and how we choose to decorate ourselves, we invite you enjoy this quick narrative of what makes us Kenyan.
notes All interviews were conducted and transcribed by Zawadi Rowe; M.A. in Geography, Indiana University, Bloomington: Kenya Diaspora Strategies. For Swahili translations, see page 42.
Simple. Happy. Depends on the day and mood.
â&#x20AC;&#x153;Like, I love Kenya, and I love America.â&#x20AC;? -Interview with Pendo , a 33 year old female in advertising.
Pendo: I’m caught in between, because this place has some things that, of course Kenya does not. Some convenience level that I’ve not seen anywhere else. However ... Everything is just too strict. And [America] has its problems in its own. [As for Kenya, you have it] where the quality of life is Zawadi: Richer? Pendo: Richer. Like, you spend more time, there’s so much cultural things you do. There’s someone to assist you 24/7, you don’t do everything by yourself. However, it has its own issues, too. So I’m caught in between.
Kifunga Mimba â&#x201A;&#x192;
mpira ni maisha â&#x201A;&#x201E; Chang-Hyun
Shujaa: The DMV [Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virgina] has quite a number of Kenyans. Zawadi: Where do you find them? Shujaa: We have a Kenyan restaurant, Swahili Village. That’s a good place to find them. Kenyans always have events. Kenyans love eating beef. So there’s always what we call nyama choma, which is roast[ed] beef. There’s always events around it. Sometimes people just come up with random reasons to have nyama choma and have friends get together. And, now we have quite a number of Kenyan DJs in the area and there’s always different - they’re hosting different parties that are Kenyan - not necessarily Kenyan parties, but they’re playing music in a lot of difference places for East African and for Africans.
â&#x20AC;&#x153;Sometimes people just come up with random reasons to have nyama choma and have friends get together.â&#x20AC;? -Interview with Shujaa, a 36 year old male in finance.
The future only entails what you put forth.
If you want me to, see that Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll always try to understand.
Work until you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have to introduce yourself.
Hatucheki na watuâ&#x201A;&#x2026;.
I found God in myself and I loved her.
List of Translations 1 Kirafiki Friend 2 Dhiki sikovu raha yaja. The tribulation of hapiness is coming. 3 Kifunga mimba The one who closes the womb 4 Mpira ni maisha. Ball is life. 5 Hatucheki na watu. We do not laugh with people.
Neema Rowe 2018