Industriousness (for Maureen)…

Status: Lord willing, I am attending a Lesothan church tomorrow and climbing a mountain near the Mohale Dam (tell me that’s not beautiful).

I love South Africa.  I love Kenya.  For very different ways and please understand that my comparisons do not diminish my love for one or the other.

But upon seeing four different Kenyan communities and Nairobi for some days I saw an industriousness that I have never seen in South Africa.

Most Kenyans seemed to be like busy bees (how’s that for a bad analogy stretched too far).  They were always walking, walking here, there.  Walking three and a half hours just to meet with our team for a two hour interview and maybe some milk and bread.  Walking to collect water, walking to carry charcoal to the side of the road for selling, walking to carry sticks for fire.

Being completely honest, I don’t think I could handle one week of this life.  You put a pile of sticks on my back and tell me to walk two hours, I will get a splinter in the first five minutes and a crick in the first six.  I will whine and complain and moan the entire way, if I even make it.  You tell me to sit by the side of the road watching my bag of charcoal or potatoes for the entire daylight period in case someone stops to buy, I will go crazy.  I will want to leave my post at least seven times to use the bathroom.  I will fall asleep and get sore or stay awake and get sore.  And when I come home, I will be so so angry with you for putting me out there all day and causing me to burn the skin off my nose again.  Trust me, I would let the sun go down on that anger and hold it against you in the morning too.

They are productive people in a way I have never known and probably will never come close to on this earth.  But through their self-sufficiency I recognize a new joy, a joy I really don’t see in South Africa.

Many people think that many South Africans are just waiting for these dream jobs: high-paying, easy life style.  And when they don’t get them they just hang back and let foreigners take the basic and open jobs over.  And then boredom in time breeds frustration and then anger and then jealousy and then violence.  In my opinion, boredom is an opener to many many sins.  This is one theory behind the xenophobic violence of May that still continues in smaller portions.

Another theory that could co-exist with the boredom concept is impatience waiting on the government to make life easier.  Even South African citizens have told me that many of their friends are just sitting back waiting for socialism to kick into gear. 

The Kenyans don’t seem to be waiting-they’re just walking to keep their own house and homes secure, to feed their family, and maybe to improve the quality of life for the next generation.  By continuing to walk even while you might be waitng for outside help, you hold off bitterness. 

By holding off bitterness and walking against boredom the days go faster and end with a smile.


2 Responses to “Industriousness (for Maureen)…”

  1. nairobichronicle Says:

    True, Kenyans are industrious. 24 years of former President Daniel arap Moi’s rule, characterized by SAPS, liberalization, corruption and insensitivity by the ruling classes, long made Kenyans realize they are pretty much on their own.

  2. Love the observations, Jennifer! Thanks!

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