After studying various modules on cultural differences between countries, I was interested to see how Kenya would compare to the UK. The first obvious difference is the huge bargaining culture throughout Kenya where Kenyans will rarely pay the full asking price for anything. This was particularly evident when visiting one of my group members in Nakuru’s wholesale market where five avocado sellers were competing for the same customers, allowing for some hard bargaining. It was important that we adapted to this culture change quickly in order to avoid paying ‘‘muzungu prices’’!
Another aspect worth mentioning is the transport situation in Kenya. Whereas the UK is very strict on their transport laws, you could potentially get away with piling 6 people in the back of a taxi in Kenya! The enforcement of law here seems to be quite lax; after a long days hard work Lewis and I were heading back into town and were escorted to join a Boda Boda (motorbike taxi) which already had two passengers on it! We politely declined! One thing which has shocked me about Kenya is the amount of corruption which we have witnessed. The police will regularly pull vehicles over at the side of the road for various reasons and the drivers can give them money in order to prevent an arrest.
On a more positive note, after getting to know my Kenyan groups I have noticed that they take a much more relaxed attitude to life and are generally happy with what they have. Coming from a culture where we are constantly upgrading technology it is interesting to immerse myself in a less developed country. Admittedly, I almost had a breakdown when I had to spend a few days without wifi in the first week but the Kenyans have taught me that it’s important to appreciate what you have.
Written by Cat Staffa, 2013 Fellow