Kenyan class system transferred to the US

It is no secret that in Kenya and elsewhere in the world, classism remains a distinct aspect of life. In Kenya this has been defined by guys of town vs rural folks.

Go to anywhere USA where a good number of Kenyans have settled. You will be surprised to find that these cliques of rural folks vs nai people continue hanging out separately. My question is what is it with classism and why is there a need to define ourselves via socially divisive labels?

Is there any time that we will be individuals and look at each other as such not as which group we fit in?

My naive assumption was that in the US because most people live in urban areas and very few if any of the Kenyans are in the elite of US society, Kenyans would relate to each other on the same level.

But oh no, the issue of classism continues…will there ever be an end to this?

10 thoughts on “Kenyan class system transferred to the US

  1. Sadly, us humans get so caught up in our differences and neglect the main things we have in common. Classism is one aspect of it. Both the town crew and the rural crew are guilty of making judgements against each other. I also used to have naive assumptions thinking, ‘hey we’re all Kenyans,’ or ‘we’re from the same tribe’ so we should have solidarity. But after some experiences, I realized it’s about individuals. I come from a rural area and some people say “you must be from Nairobi” but although I was born there I’m so out of place in town. People will often try to put you in a box so they can label you. I like to challenge those assumptions.

  2. gnd, as you said its about puting someone in a box because that ‘box’ is the comfort zone that we allow ourselves to be in and interact with ‘our’ own

  3. It is a sad fact of life that regardless of where you go, people will always want to hang out with those of their own kind, not realising the loss of the wealth of experiences by not interacting with those different from themselves.

  4. ^all these lead to lack of maendeleo!! but people are too hang up on their pasts to move on. I will confess tho that I cannot stand bad manners, its the only thing that I discriminate against–> lewdness, loudness, eating badly, et al… it doesnt matter whether u r from Nai or shags (funny, how everything else is grouped in2 one even tho some of the other places are not really shags… ati upcountry)

  5. People need a way to feel good about themselves, and these groupings allow people to big up themselves and their comrades in the clique, while deriding the ones who are not down with their clique, or cannot be down.

    I too think it’s a general symptom in people in general everywhere, it’s just in k.e. folk it shows up in this rural vs jiji or tribal lines.

    You look within other ethnic/social groupings you will see the same cliqueish behavior e.g. in african americans there is the bourgeiosie (sp?) and the ghetto folks.

  6. If the transaction cost of reaching out is too high,we’ll generally avoid that cost – such is the nature of the human being.

    Let me explain myself based on my own observations:

    I attended college in the midwest, 90% white, with sprinklings of african americans, africans and other international students.

    Throughout my 4 year stay, this was always the pattern of “hanging out”

    Asians will chill with Asians, in the absence of Asians, with Africans … further divided, Indians would chill with Indians, Nepalis with Nepalis, etc… same case with Africans …

    Miroz, specially @ bashes had their own special corner, where even African students felt excluded …

    Jungus … vile vile (save for the wild mamas who’d venture black …)

    Point is, we always look for what is easiest…unconsciously. In the absence of Kenyans in the U.S, u will seek out other Africans,in the absence of that, other international folks whom you can relate to, ukikosa hao, u r screwed with miros ama jungus … unless you are a recluse …

    Now going back to the Kenyan thingy, I think it is a mis-diagnosis to classify as “classism” what is in fact a manifestation of inherent human traits.

    Classism is a deliberate and discriminatory stratification based on distinctions made between social or economic classes.

    I stand to be corrected but I wonder whether the Kenyans who exhibit what is being defined as “classist” traits really harbour any ill feelings …

  7. You live in DC and the division is further divide into the elites who work for their world bank & IMF , the diplomats circles, the MBAS vs “other degrees:-), the Safari Golf club members vs any other wannabe golf players 🙂 LOL, the Kikuyu from Kiambu vs those from elsewhere, the baltimore Kenyans aka “ghettolicious Kenyans::-) and the Silver Spring, VA, DC kenyans 🙂 so unfortunately there are so many “sects” of Kenyans even within that class you aforementioned. I guess as someone mentioned it is where one has a comfort zone and can relate to. Personally, I jipox in all venues shamelessly regardless….

  8. @ Majonzi. I agree, but to what extent is that classism manifested amongst Kenyans in the U.S? It is very easy to miscategorize the issue (even though am not saying it doesn’t exist …)
    For example, 4get about the areas where concentration of kenyans is huge. The true test of classism would be observed say if you were in a small town, with like 3 kenyans, shags and nai. How would they interact? Then you can make conclusions … but in a place where choices are numerous, its really hard to separate wheat from chaffe …

  9. @ anonymous, you have defined DC Kenyans like no one else could.

    I also try to mix and mingle with everyone but can you imagine if in a city like DC, we can afford to isolate as Kenyans then how can we ever mix in our country?

    @mwangi, I agree that classism might not not be in itself a chosen course of action but what you say is iherently human in all of us yield to classism and divisions.
    And as for getting 3 Kenyans in a small town, you can expect they will interact on an equal basis because they have no other choice…

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