Survivors

Tomorrow a bunch of vol-au-venteers will descend upon my house to celebrate the fact that some of us (precious few in fact) have been here 1 year come Monday. So this new logo is a few days premature but I can’t wait. I’m sure I won’t be flying out of kenya by monday.

Perhaps after (almost) a year living in Kenya, I might expect to be getting used to it. In several ways I am: the shit on the streets no longer freaks me out. I don’t spend so much time staring in disbelief at every shop, vehicle, animal, etc. I see in Tala market, and as a result I don’t attract (quite) as much attention as the freaky foreigner that I am here. This makes places like the maket and Nairobi more tollerable. Nairobi can be a bit of a headfuck for the first few months: just dealing with people selling foodstuffs on the ground when the people, ground and foodstuffs are all covered in dirt, etc.

Despite this sort of geographicsl acclimatisation, I am feeling increasingly socially unsettled. When I first came I still wore the cloak of foreignnness tightly around my shoulders. I could hide inside my cloak when things became hard. These days I still carry it with me and it still identifies me to all who see me wearing it, but it blows open in the wind, now and then, revealing my humanity. This is, after all, the reason I volunteered in the first place, to try to find out what’s inside my cloak of Britishness: What are the things about Mark that remain the same when the environment changes radically.

Just as well that I didn’t come with the goal of “doing good works” or “helping the poor”: I’m not at all sure I do any good here nor that much of what is done under the name of aid is of any help at all. It’s welcome: they give away free money, but does it help the situation?…. I don’t know.

When the principal asked me to “please teach them to pass the exams first and then teach them to think if there is any time” I cried and said “NO!”, that I might as well go home if that was my job here. I still think feel that way, but this is my personal choice. I do not want to be here making people pass an exam for which they have no understanding of the concepts. **I** personally would like to help someone here to think critically, since critical thinking seems to be such a rare skill.

But maybe it’s none of my business. :plain:

4 Comments

  1. Chris Says:

    Obvious question – so why not leave?

    You’ve not even had a holiday from Africa for a whole year, no?

    Love, Chris

  2. Tyg Says:

    Hello my lovely man cloaked in Britishness! Perhaps you sir can give me some pointers about being British … my British citizenship application has just been accepted! Oh.My.God.! Her Majesty has decided I’m OK enough to become one of her subjects! (And I didn’t even have to marry a Brit!) Too many exclamation marks!!!!!

    Love you(!)

  3. Lydia Says:

    So, what is constant about Mark? I can think of a few things that appear (from communications which you have chosen to make and are therefore inherently skewed) to be constant but in true Johari’s window fashion, it would be interesting to know what you believe is constant about you first. When people around you get past their stereotyped impressions of a British man, does their attitude to you change? How? And will we get you back sweetie?
    xxx

  4. Mark Says:

    This is an interesting one. I’m working on it. Watch this space (or possibly a new blog) for constant things after a year.

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