Posted: January 26, 2010 in Palaver

Owing to Hillary Clinton’s visit to Kenya, alot was done to beautify the city in preparation for her highly publicised visit to the country. The concerned authorities went out of their way to ensure that they literally left no stone unturned in an attempt to create a perfect image of Kenya. Roads were scrubbed clean, stones painted, grass manicured and buildings redecorated to ensure that ‘Mama Chelsea’ saw how beautiful Nairobi is, although this is far from what the city usually looks like.

One radio presenter quipped that after all these efforts, anyone who so much as wore the wrong coloured shirt within her vicinity or was caught with a strand of uncombed hair would suffer the consequences for ‘tarnishing our image’. I’ll bet those attending to the high profile entourage even had to buy a new pair of underwear to ensure they measured up to these high standards.

While many were complaining about the excentricism of such actions, it is foolhardy to suggest that this is a new phenomenon among Kenyans. Many a time we go out of our way to impress even though our normal behaviour and appearance is a far cry from what we potray.

For instance, when a lady is visiting for the first time, men go beyond their limits to ensure that everything is in order in the house to create the image of a responsible and tidy bachelor when in reality, this is often the exception rather than the norm. In this case you will see a man busy making the bed, cleaning last month’s utensils and folding a heap (of usually uncleaned) clothes often within the last hour of the anticipated guest’s arrival. Should she decide to pop in earlier than expected then they find themselves in a rather precarious position where the usual escape is to blame it on the non-existent roommate or the cleaning lady. Which is why bachelors are usually strict with time when it comes to dates.

Or like how our mothers buy a beautiful set of utensils that always decorate the wall unit only to be used when ‘important guests’ visit our homes. Of course the next door neighbour and mother-in-law do not fall under this privileged category so woe unto you if you are caught using them on such ‘common people’. Thus we are forced to use plastic or aluminium plates on a daily basis but when the ‘important guests’ come over, the porcelain and China plates are conveniently removed from the cupboard and set on the dining table which is hardly ever used as well. On this day the children are forcefully bathed and the househelp is given strict orders not to set foot in the living room so as not to embarass the hosts.

It is therefore safe to say that it’s our nature as Kenyan’s to want to look good on the surface and keep our shortcomings and inadequacies to ourselves. How I wish Hillary would be visiting more regularly so that there would be less traffic jams on our roads and our buildings would look stunning all the time. If we were to have dignitaries visiting Kenya on a monthly basis, we might actually achieve Vision 2030 before the next General elections.


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