I want to go to AMERICA!
Why wouldn’t any urban Kenyan want to go to America? We aren’t talking ultra-urban like Nairobi, we’re talking about bordering on rural, like Rongai…hehe, but on a serious note, we’re talking about a place that is really rural, like 100m past Rongai. Everyone in peri-urban Kenya is Americanned in a way.
America’s influence on Kenya is undeniable. Let’s drop the usual boring shit about economies and capitalism because those are now synonymous with globalization, but let’s just talk about something as fun as entertainment:
1. Standup: Churchill Live is essentially modelled after shows in the states, e.g. Saturday night live. He even borrowed ‘Live’ (#facepalm). Although, after a little research, stand-up comedy and offshoots like comedy showcases have origins in both the US and the UK. But more on the UK later…
2. Disney dominated our childhood lives. Disney brought to the urban and peri-urban Mickey Mouse, Snow White, Cinderella, Rapunzela etc. Well that’s gay America talking, America also brought us She-ra, Spiderman, Superman, Batman and whoever else. FYI, Danger Mouse and Super Gran (KBC favourites) are British.
3. Maybe you’re not convinced, you think these are things that only Nairobians or middle class city dwellers were exposed to…so let’s talk about more rural/ poor areas. One random afternoon in 2008, I was in Marurui- a ghetto not too far from USIU. My friend Masha and I, stepped into one of these rooms that show translated movies, standing behind like 70 smelly kids, we watched Van Damme tearing people to pieces screaming in fluent kikuyu. Van Damme and his french name or whatever Belgians are, moved to the US of A in 1982 to become a star, and that’s how we know him, he was brought to us not from Belgium- his home – but America. Forget Van Damme and his weird fake tan: Bruce ‘the greatest’ Lee was brought to us from Hong Kong…BY America.) This video for example, was definitely shot by Muchirimentor, heavily influenced by Bruce and co.
4. What about black and white pictures of our folks afros? What was that? Afros were once not as globally widespread as they are now…where did they originate from? You guessed it! But you possibly guessed it wrong, because afros originated not in Africa America, but Africa original – all 55 countries. Read this…though off course we often associate afros with America and Black Power…
Enough with the lists of reasons and chart records and all that ‘conclusive evidence’ bullshit I was trying to give. We all know it’s true, we are influenced by America, we are Americaned…and so is a huge part of the world. Few countries can claim to have exported their culture (and thus influence) like the US has. It doesn’t matter that some of these cultures were actually imported by America, re-packaged, and then re-exported – because we now think them American, and therefore America’s influence is yet again undeniable.
However, in my limited experience, I must say that Britain’s stubborn hold on their own culture, has allowed it to export a lot of it successfully… the Brits for example have maintained their English, and their accent, and definitely their values. It is no wonder that despite living in the UK for a year, I can barely count the Brit friends I have. It was hard as an Americaned African to understand them, their lad culture (read obnoxious groups of loud, very muscled, very drunk boys), the British over polite behavior, and something I enjoyed in cities, the racial integration (as long as the minority involved were British). Brit stubbornness is evident in global icons like Amy Winehouse, Adele and 007… remember the show ‘Mind your English’?
Long and short, that’s why I want to go to America, to meet this absentee yet omnipresent father of cultural ideologies.