Wednesday, July 8, 2009

God, Obama-Mania, and Footbal

June 27th – July 6th, 2009

This summer is definitely one that I am going to journal and blog my way through! There is always so much happening that it is impossible to go a day without noting down the occurrences of the day.

I have already been here for three weeks. Three things which strongly influence Kenyans are God, Obama, and Football (Soccer). Most of the Oyugians, even kids, I have met so far have spoken about all three topics within the first 5- 10 minutes of our conversation.

God

Kenyans are very religious. Folks here go to church on either Saturday or Sunday, some even go both days. Church sermons are usually couple of hours long and involve long sermons by the priest and loads of Gospel Choir. A few of the churches near my hotel have outdoors speakers attached, which always end up jolting me to consciousness during the weekends. What I have noticed here is that the sermons sound very, very angry. The priest is usually screaming for hours at end.

Life here seems to be defined here by the Bible (I have only met Christians here). When visiting schools many of the songs the kids sing are about biblical stories such as the 5 foolish and wise men etc. Even when playing with the kids in our neighbourhood, after asking them to sing songs were us they sung us songs related to the Church.

Even the “hoodlums” here seem to be very religious. On Jen’s birthday one of the guys we had met at the internet cafe signed “T-H-U-G” on her birthday card. It stood for “True Homies Under God.”Jen, Amanda, and I doubled over in laughter after reading that since we never thought of it that way.

Obama

Obama is considered to be a level just under the Divine Being here. He is from this province in Kenya, the Nyanza Province so he is a HUGE deal here. Not even kidding. I have been to so many shops and establishments where his picture is hung. Many people ask us if we are from America. They get disappointed when we tell them we are from Canada, but cheer up as soon as we tell them we border U.S.A. Many folks have also asked us if we have met him. I wish.

Roy, our Project Coordinator, is a good example of how Obama is viewed. When we asked him if Obama is his role model, he said no because Barack Obama is too great of a person to be emulated. He doesn’t even think it is possible to be him. Kenya as a whole would go wild with joy should Obama ever choose to visit the land of his ancestors.

There is even a hairstyle called Obama. Although it looks nothing like his. It basically consists of cornrows. Very popular here, rightfully so as well. Come on, it is named after Obama!

Football

The Kenyans cannot live without this popular sport. Young kids to adults have come and joined us in our afternoon games. Many kids have shared their dreams with us. Many of them wish to be Christiano Ronaldo when they grow up.

The three of us have been visiting Roy’s high school football team and watching them train. Amanda even joins them in their games. All of them are so talented. Their training is very gruelling and rigorous. Nothing will deter the students from playing football, not even Mother Nature. It has been raining a lot for the past two days, yet the boys continue playing soccer regardless of how muddy the conditions get.

Many of the students we have met have also asked us to get them football scholarships. It is so difficult to explain to them that scholarships are not easy to come and involve a very competitive process. Many of the kids here are so talented that it is saddening to see that their dreams will fade away at some point, especially when the struggles of life greet them.

Football has introduced us to many people here. Many of them are now some of our friends whom we hand out with daily. It is a game that has created many friendships that I hope will last a lifetime as it has allowed us to meet some truly incredible people.

Lesson of the Week:

Citizens of industrialized nations have so many options available to them in pretty much every aspect of their lives. For example, in the beverages industry here the big two players here are Tusker and Coca Cola. Tusker is a beer company, and a very famous one at that. Water seems to be more expensive than Tusker and Coca Cola here. Here in Oyugis at least, I only see Coca Cola brands such as Sprite, Fanta and Coke. I have yet to see any evidence that Pepsi is sold here. Soda prices here range from 20 to 40 KES while water for a similar size would be sold for 30 – 50 KES.

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