‘ME I AM KENYAN’

Every society is known for their particular  norms.  For instance, ‘me I am Kenyan is Kenyan. Just like boiled potatoes, carrots and brown sauce is Danish. Never have I met any African in this great kingdom of Denmark that didn’t guess I was Kenyan. How insane is that? They didn’t confuse me for a Ugandan leave alone Nigerian. In both occasions, I had not spoken to them to get to judge my twisted copyrighted accent. That’s Kenyan too. Copyrighting everything.

See growing up, chapati was a luxury. God knows how we longed for Christmas. My dad used to call my step-grandmother to come and make ours. We believed she had acquired her special skill from Arabs while she lived in the Kenyan coast. She tagged me along to the kitchen because I was her favourite. I keenly learnt the art. Her chapati were softly layered, non greasy and sugarless. She used minimum oil to fry them. We did not have the oil brush. Therefore, she tied a couple of feathers which served as the brush. The first chapati was special. We used to call it pan opener and the most obedient kid of the season would receive it. They were always accompanied with a stew of mung beans (ndengu) or goat meat on a special days like Christmas and freshly brewed tea for the morning after.

Years later, we relocated to the city. We used a paraffin stove for cooking which wasn’t ideal for making chapati.We believed that the best ones were made using a charcoal burner (jiko). As a result, my favourite Kenyan delicacy was just a memory. I remember this one time when a neighbour offered us  Chapos on condition that we took the oil with us. slum living. They were just oily and greasy things. Consequently, my dad got to make the ends meet for us and chapati was the first end. Well, maybe the JVC TV was, I am not certain which one came first. They were both very important to me. We got to eat chapati every Sunday. He trained us how to make them like his step mom. Every house help we got, learn’t the special grandmothers skill which they all articulated without fail.

This great delicacy became a norm. There was nothing special attached to it. They were just chapoz. Well not until I moved to Denmark. Chapati is a kind of flat bread which was originally introduced in Kenya by the Indian settlers. You remember those who came to build the Kenya Uganda railway? It has evolved  over the years to become a common delicacy in most Kenyan households.Me I am Kenyan,if not for anything else then for chapatis sake and the use of me and I in the same sentence would make me a real Kenyan.

As much as we like to copyright everything, we have a number of unique things and words that make us who we are. Even through my struggle to integrate in this complicated culture, the Kenyan in me still stands. I strive to teach my children about my origin. Not the broken English though. So far Bernie has responded greatly to Kenyan food. He enjoys chapatis and mandazi as much as I do. Oh and the ndengus too.

My husband on the other hand, views our chapati as some kind of a snack,a special pancake maybe. However he really enjoys it. Mandazi are his favourite. To my darling husband, chapati are not a special kind of pan kage like you like to put it. More so there is nothing strange with having them for breakfast, tea break, lunch and dinner. It is our way of life. You know. I barely use this phrase though, well save for the times when someone tries to tell me how I should be like a Dane. They often put it like, you know Danes don’t do this and that. But, me I am Kenyan.

On this particular morning, Rógvi got up before me and went for a walk with Bernie. We always get to enjoy white bread only on weekends. He therefore bought our favourite fresh baked white bread. When he got back home, he set the table like he always does. The bread looked so tasty but there was something else on my mind. Chapo with tea. I had actually brewed some good chai masala to go with. If you are Kenyan reading this you can relate. Chapati with tea bring about mouthgarsms like no other pair of food. But really. He gave me a go ahead and I couldn’t resist taking a picture.

Every time I miss Kenya, I fix us a Kenyan delicacy and we are sorted. After the breakfast I went for cycling classes and when I got back I had the same for lunch. All this time, my husband is amazed at how we eat chapati with tea for all meals. There is only one reason, because us we are Kenyans. What makes you Kenyan?

N.Njoka
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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