By TIM KAMUZU BANDA
January 8 2009
They have started flying back to Western capitals but for the whole of December, the ‘summer bunnies’ lit up our social scene.
Welcome to the world of Kenyan students and professionals living especially in Europe and the US and back home every December, sometimes displaying real or imaginary culture shocks.
Some are very decent folks while a laughably weird lot ends up being the antithesis of the ‘cool and uptown’’ mien meant to charm non-have-been-theres with.
Nairobi resident Clifford Oluoch talks of a friend who left the country for the US two years ago but upon his return last month, he could not remember any building or street in Nairobi save for Nation Centre which he calls the ‘White and Black Building.’ “I have no choice but to wait for him here,” says a bemused Oluoch outside the Nation Centre.
Marketer Prya Chana says her family members and friends fly back home a number of times in a year. “It’s like they never left Kenya,” she says.
However, she remembers someone who came back and it was as if her memory had gone blank. “She could not remember where the 20th Century Cinema was although her father’s office has always been there. Another bunny thought that up market Nairobi suburb Karen was near Loresho although she had lived there for most of her life,” recalls Prya who herself has lived abroad for years.
Then there was this visiting bunny who keeps on telling us that he can’t stay out very late because his life insurance runs into millions of dollars and wouldn’t it be disastrous for the US government if anything happened to him?
Those who know the difference between the US government and the American Insurance Group barely suppress their laughter as we drink away the evening at Tamasha Hurlingham, Nairobi.
“It is fine to try be safe but c’mon, we have insurance in Kenya... If anything and with all due respect, the guy grew up in Eastlands,” says Nairobi University student Kevin Ochieng of the bunny.
But perhaps what is intriguing is the sudden change in accent. It is rumoured that a certain boxer toured the US for two weeks and once back here, she was asking reporters “You knaw warra’m sayin’?”
For Vincent Okira, the change in accents doesn’t annoy. However he can’t stand bunnies who “forget” their mother tongue or Kiswahili. Like the one who had been in Australia for two years and wanted him to be a translator back in Western Kenya while the Australian girl he was walking hand in hand was trying very hard to learn Kiluhya.
It has also not been hard to spot a summer-bunny in a club. They love roomy, hanging t-shirts most of them emblazoned with the name of some American city, state or a university. Invariably they will be weighed down by tons of bling while the girls will be in something outrageous.
At Tamasha Hurlingham, one bunny doesn’t remember Kenya currency denominations. Some will ask someone close how much is in their hands and can they use the credit card because it is safer.
“It happens even in the dingiest pubs,” says Okira. And, they don’t take this criticism lying down.
Maureen Owitti, a Kenyan bunny living in Gloucester, UK, agrees that some people fake accents but she insists that most of them, having lived abroad for many years, naturally adopt local accents.
“I studied in Jamaica for two years then moved on to the UK where I have been for five years. You don’t expect my accent to remain unchanged. Do you?” wonders nurse Maureen.
Maureen’s sentiments are also echoed by Susan Akinyi who lives in Leeds, UK.
‘Tony Bro’ or DJ Tony, as he is popularly known, has never been accused of developing an accent but has a problem with the way people back home perceive him. He has lived in Watford, UK, for more than ten years bad can’t understand why some Kenyans think everybody who has lived abroad is Mr Moneybags or a drug dealer.
“When people think you have a lot of money they tend to be fake so that they can win your favour but the truth is that it is easy to fall out with them,” says DJ Tony who runs Trixx Entertainment, a promotion and event-organising company.
Vincent Mosoti ‘Daddy V’ who lives in Atlanta, US, supports DJ Tony, adding that people need not look at them as moneybags but fellow citizens who find time to spend the little that they have saved when they come back to Kenya after years abroad.
“We work really hard out there… there is no time to party much. We only get time to do that when we come back home,” he says. Mosoti adds that after being away for so long, things are bound to change and nobody should ridicule them for not remembering where a street was or where to board a matatu.
Lloyd Onsunga, who also lives in the US, adds that Kenyans should be supportive as a majority of the ‘summer bunnies’ are genuine.
Winrose Oyaro has seen both worlds having studied for her Master’s Degree in London. She has issues with people who fuss about the way summer bunnies dress.
“It is dishonest for some Kenyans to expect you to come back dressed in the same manner you left the country when you have been in another culture for years. Ironically, they are happy to see such dressing on TV,” she says.
In the words of Oyaro, the unduly critical Kenyans should accommodate summer bunnies and perhaps learn from them instead of nursing an inferiority complex of sorts. She is however quick to admit that some bunnies go overboard.
Mike Mariga, a banker in Washington DC, finds it hard to believe that there are people who fake their dressing, accents or even their lifestyles when they come to Kenya.
“The bling and the jerseys are all American dress, which is what we are used to. Most of us have acquired the accents … we don’t even notice it,” he says, adding that he can still speak Swahili and Ekegusii fluently.
May be the world is not a global village. May be it is.
Submitted by mutungajm
Posted January 09, 2009 06:38 PM
The story captures only 2 tribes, i guess thats where the problem lies. I have met Kikuyus and Kambas, who can't lose their maternal accent, myself being one! For God's sake, can you imagine a Kikuyu forgetting 'Shilingi'? No way!
Submitted by wakuria
Posted January 09, 2009 06:30 PM
Unless this particular definition is a Kenyan twis on summer bunny, urban dictionary defines them as: A term used for a very attractive and sexy black female. Especially if she has a pretty face, is young, and dresses to accentuate her hot body e.g. small flat waist, plump butt, perky breasts. Summer Bunny is opposite of snow bunny which is a term coined for a similarly sexy white woman.
Submitted by joshmshishi
Posted January 09, 2009 06:26 PM
While it is true people exhibit variety of behaviors, it is also important for the writer of the article to acknowledge people come in many personalities. It is unfair to single out behaviors that mimic eccentric tendencies, and fial to realize majority of these Kenyans are mature and gentle human beings with no drama. After all, I consider it petty to major on nonsense.
Submitted by amosmbotha
Posted January 09, 2009 06:17 PM
I live abroad. and to the Kenyans living abroad,especially in the western world, you know that there is a big difference with your experience from a Kenyan in Kenya who only imagines how life is. So just care less what these people say, pursue your deams and ambitions, dont break the law but be yourself. If you like blinging, do it. If you wonna tweng do it. But when you go back to Kenya, just avoid some of this critics coz they really cant help. Some are just jelouys or some just dont understand things.
Submitted by manmanu
Posted January 09, 2009 05:40 PM
l am a kenyan and l have leaved in england and now austria for more than 13 years together. l still can speak swahili and luhya and one thing l am sure is that those who "tweng" are forcing it and faking it. you cannot forget your languege or swahili it is a false way of trying to look important and let everybody know you were abroad. it is a shame coz the wazungu who come here dont do the same! why dont we like ourselves? why do we have to pretend we are what we never will be.?
Submitted by Hillaryio
Posted January 09, 2009 05:25 PM
The creature, hahahahahaha, man you cracked me up so hard by your Koinange Street story!
Submitted by Dauddy
Posted January 09, 2009 04:44 PM
We Kenyans are just a wierd lot whether at home or elsewhere. I've seen people leave Kenya, they work in Sudan or Ghana for 6 months and come back home twenging!! Its like once you step into JKIA tweng comes on automatically. Si muongee tu vizuri jameni?
Submitted by makinionne
Posted January 09, 2009 03:24 PM
Some of us Kenyans are just too fake,l live among chinese,sri lankans,indians here in Canada,these people have lived here longer than most of us but they never forget their culture and language,their kids speak their native and English languages flawlessly.
Submitted by MaclarenMercedes
Posted January 09, 2009 03:22 PM
Common guys, been in Europe for over 20 years and I left Kenya when I was a young lad but I still remember things. But I must admit my first visit to Kenya was a shock but after my second visit I remembered everywhere, I drove, took matatus and knew where to alight, spoke Swahili I learnt from textbook and avoided speaking in English. This kind of pretence is mainly by Kenyan living in US. I remember meeting a Kenyan in Nairobi who continually complained about Kenya always commenting "America is like this....America is like that..."
Submitted by mwangi4k
Posted January 09, 2009 03:00 PM
If you go to Rome(read abroad),do as the Romans do,the saying goes and 'what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. The wannabes forget their maternal name (eg Kamau,Oluoch,Wamalwa)in the first place before seeing Kenya like an alien country?
Submitted by beman99
Posted January 09, 2009 02:57 PM
I think the style of dressing the reporter is reffering to is the doo-rags, the over sized tees, the chains, the flat-brimmed baseball hats and yatta yatta... basically, the same shite that you find some of our very own 'rappers' in mtaani wearing...
Submitted by thecreature
Posted January 09, 2009 02:39 PM
Lucky me. Nobody ever complains when I visit Kenya. For me, three years back I found this amazingly beautiful lady who operates on Koinange Street part-time. We got to know each other and when I can get away for two weeks, all I do is send her fee to her in advance. Then I am in her bedroom day and night till I fly out. Relatives think I've never been back in Kenya!
Submitted by Squeezed
Posted January 09, 2009 02:19 PM
Ha ha, some day they'll grow up and learn to be comfortable in their own skin, appreciating who they truly are.
Submitted by syindumyaki
Posted January 09, 2009 01:50 PM
The pronounciation of some english words differ from one country to another. Ever listened to nigerian, ethiopian, sudanese, indonesian, indian speaking english? its all different accent but its english. In order to be understood, then u got to learn how to weng kidogo! but i cant forget my mother tongue. no!
Submitted by Isaya Baraza
Posted January 09, 2009 01:49 PM
Iam yet to see summer bunnies from India with an Indian accent. Kenyans have lived in India for years but not even one adopts Indian accent. Why US accent? Wacha kutuenjoy.
Submitted by nani_ngombe
Posted January 09, 2009 01:36 PM
I walk into a pub, in sagging jeans, half of my butts hanging out and fake gold chains and tattoos all over my neck and the 16yr olds crave my attention. I walk into the same pub in a casual gikomba dress and the same girls ask if I am a recuperating IDP! It is not about the bunnies, it is about the vulnerability of the Kenyan society to things external. We don't believe in ourselves. One of the Arturs that looked like a 'gold-mine' escaped with the president's daughter, remember?
Submitted by kibosmaluche
Posted January 09, 2009 12:49 PM
I have been out of the country for 6 years but when i came to nairobi i still remembered all the street names. it all depends if you knew the streets of nairobi in the first place before you left. wacha kujifanya.
Submitted by nyamuga
Posted January 09, 2009 11:38 AM
My advice to Kenyans from abroad be yourself care less what they say.
Submitted by bewitchd
Posted January 09, 2009 11:35 AM
I got dissappointed and disgusted when I met a friend who had been in the states for over 6 years. Our first encounter was him talking jibberish about his achievements in the states, his degree, blah, blah. I only learnt that poor dude had been deported after 6 years. Our next encounter we meet again at a club, guy is asking me to throw him rounds plus now smokes weed too. Moral of the story, if you know you got nothing there, stay away from trouble and avoid the embarrassments by not coming back to Kenya empty handed.
Submitted by leadershipmdc
Posted January 09, 2009 11:16 AM
Oh! what a shame. What is the value of an accent other than wanting to show off? We have travelled and interacted widely but find no value at all in those whose pretend not to even remember swahili while George Bush and Obama try to learn the language because of its beauty. Koffi Annan has worked in the UN for years and he speaks very good english without those funny accents. Emulate him.
Submitted by wuod_aketch
Posted January 09, 2009 11:13 AM
Mnyawade has resumed it all intelligently. I have lived out of the country as foreigner more than I have in my native land but still try to talk to my family and friends in my mother tongue, English or Kiswahili. They told me of my accent. At first this annoyed me, but have learned to live with it, even here, where French is the only language for everyday communication, I speak with an accent. Nairobi has not changed much in 30 years. One has to be of bad faith to forget the landmarks, KICC, Hilton, Intercontinental, extended Serena, Riverroad, Gikomba ...
Submitted by kihutati
Posted January 09, 2009 10:46 AM
I havent been to paradise yet, am on earth. ive been in usa since i was 18 years old, am 38 now. i still remember my mother tongue and swahili and sheng. usa is not paradise so i can start speaking in tongue. my first 18years paved my identity, am truly a kenyan no matter how many greencards or other country assumed citizenships I have. and i will die a kenyan by birth and culture
Submitted by ogosha
Posted January 09, 2009 10:44 AM
Proposal: maybe the Kenyan government needs to employ pple na NYAHUNYO at the airport to rid the idiots of their fake adopted westernization cultures. chapa hao kabisa, bure
Submitted by odhiambooluoch
Posted January 09, 2009 10:03 AM
Change of accent is sometimes a necessity. In the US, it is inevitable that you have to tweak it to be able to communicate. Americans are arrogant and they tell it on your face if they do not get your accent.The most common phrase is that they do not understand Spanish.I was surprised that Kenyans at home also have the "Obi" syndrome...they kind of get disappointed if you do not tweng at all. I stick to sheng in spite of the disappointment.
Submitted by kenmare69
Posted January 09, 2009 09:24 AM
mukumu, lol! You’re right, SOME R BUNNIES.
Submitted by shene
Posted January 09, 2009 09:15 AM
After living outside Kenya for 13 years, with brief home comings here n there, I arrived at JKIA last December and suddenly everyone was speaking funny. The NTV tonite girl said Cafe in Swahili unlike the French version. But the Kenyan women had the best hair styles I have ever seen. Nevertheless, I still remember everything save for people who know me but I had no idea who those people were.
Submitted by lala
Posted January 09, 2009 09:14 AM
Some of these summer bunnies(whatever it means)are just too fake and think kenyans living in kenya are stupid.it is rediculous how some forget how to speak kiswahili after livin jus 2 years abroad!!kwani..dont these people call back home to speak to their parents or friends. what i can make out of this is that, these summer bunnies jus want to show off infront of their pals in kenya!!
submitted by olegaita66
Posted January 09, 2009 08:40 AM
It is so obvious that after living many yrs abroad,Kenyans at home will notice a difference in my accent.My sheng will be old school because it changes every minute.But we are different,some will exaggerate their attitudes and accents.
Submitted by njoroge101
Posted January 09, 2009 08:33 AM
How well u can speak ur mother tongue and Swahili depends on where u go when u leave Kenya, and how long u've been gone. Going to States is like going to shagz. You meet so many people from Kenya u'd think u were in Kenya. Go to some places and u'll think u r in hillbilly country with nobody to converse with in your favorite language. You acclimatize to ur surroundings.
Submitted by 123mwas123
Posted January 09, 2009 08:14 AM
Yeah,some of them put up a show ,but lets not generalise the issue.I dont dress the same as I used to but my accent is intact,but again dont crucify me if I utter 2 or 3words differently!!!!Intereacting with pple who dont or understand my mothertoungue or my national language!!!!U can always tell the fakers when u see them....
Submitted by SJ502
Posted January 09, 2009 08:02 AM
Hilarious! Kenyans ‘wanabees’ are a notorious lot for imitating their hosts....a rare feat that would put to shame even native brothers born in the hoods. Interesting to note how immigrants from West Africa especially Nigerians and Ghanaians proudly maintain their strong accent and manage to retain their sense of community. Young Kenyan homeboyz, the bunnies or gangsta posers are amusing but sometimes they can be very irritating!
Submitted by kareggs
Posted January 09, 2009 06:06 AM
Utterly useless,good for nothing pieces of donkey crap!!
Submitted by allanjubi
Posted January 09, 2009 05:33 AM
I wish Kenyans at home would be more interested to know if their fellow Kenyans who are abroad have anything they have learnt that can be of benefit to them or our nation....Somebody who has stepped out of our country will never be the same...Look for the good and potential in all of the Kenyans abroad...
Submitted by Hillaryio
Posted January 09, 2009 05:16 AM
There are a few people here in the US that simply drive me crazy. Some one just came here 3 years ago and found us here. We taught him how to order food at McDonald when all he could do was look at the pictures and say, "No. 3". You meet the dude a few months later and they calling water, "warer". You ask him something in swahili, they keep answering in English. Hahahaha!!
Submitted by njoroge101
Posted January 09, 2009 04:42 AM
Changes do happen but kila kitu kwa kiasi. I lived in Canada with no people to speak in Kikuyu to for 3 years. While I still understood the language well, I had trouble speaking fluently. Sitting around people who spoke Kikuyu only for one day, however, fixed the problem. Accents change too but I do agree that sometimes they are exaggerated.
Submitted by edigin6
Posted January 09, 2009 04:03 AM
To forget your mother tongue is impossible. U can understand it but may be difficult to pronounce the words. Forgetting the streets depends how good your memory is and how long uve been out of kenya coz things change with time. The accent does change cause of pronunciations. The English we are used to people don't understand what you mean some even get offended by how u pronounce their names so its hard to tell if one is faking it with. With nsurance thats out of line thats what we call kudanganywa mchana
Submitted by naliweliwalo
Posted January 09, 2009 04:00 AM
This story was too funny, especially the part of the Luhya needing translation after only two years in Australia! It is ironic; when in Kenya they wear US and UK gear, but when they fly back, they wear Tusker t-shirts and Safari Boots! Bure Kabisa!
Submitted by mukumu
Posted January 09, 2009 03:36 AM
"summer bunnies" sounds a bit gay. It sounds like a name used by those Playboy Bunnies.
Submitted by jennywkay
Posted January 09, 2009 03:05 AM
I think many of these Kenya bunnies are huge pretenders, having met a bunch of them at Tamasha and other spots in Nairobi. If they lived in Saudi, would they go clubbing in Nairobi dressed in Hijabs, speaking with arabic accents? Methinks not. They would have American accents even if from the Gaza strip. "You know warra’m sayin’" and all that.
Submitted by mnyawade
Posted January 09, 2009 02:37 AM
It must be understood that Kenyans abroad are a mixed bag.There are those for whom being abroad is a great achievement and hence the desperate need to show off.And there are those Kenyans for whom living abroad is a deprivation and hence the desire to come home and connect with the rich Kenyan culture at every opportunity.Those Kenyans who try so hard to impress fellow Kenyans through accent, dress and inability to remember places in Kenya have learnt little or nothing from living abroad. So God must help them.
Submitted by migal
Posted January 09, 2009 02:35 AM
I think the accents are hard to avoid. I live with my parents abroad,we speak in swahili and mother tongue at home,English rarely,but whenever I am back home in Kenya,wananiambia ati hata kiswahili changu kina 'weng'
Submitted by Kiarutara
Posted January 09, 2009 02:25 AM
The accent change is something you can explain because it happens even in Kenya, the only problem is when some people exergerate it to attract attention. I came back home to vote last year after 2 years in the UK and I walked, drove and commuted around nairobi with no assistance at all. Forgetting your mother tongue? excuse me! Thats a sick joke
Submitted by 1nyoike
Posted January 09, 2009 02:17 AM
LOL! Why is this an issue? We all hav freedom to express ourselves in whatever manner. Accents n twangs fake or not. Why should I be the same guy I was 5 yrs ago? Maybe we should spend less time 'checking others out' n more time enjoying ourselves.
Submitted by flaxea
Posted January 09, 2009 01:18 AM
Kamuza Banda, stop hating the the "summer bunnies." After all they bring in millions if not billions of their hard earned foreign currency. Their flossing (if at all), is a small price to pay for the sacrifice of been away from home and the hard work they do. Give it to them and celebrate with them while they enjoy home, before the "summer bunnies" return to their hectic schedules.
Submitted by paotie01
Posted January 09, 2009 01:16 AM
I hear ur accent have changed'. While Americans still don't understand my thick Kenyan accent now as they couldn't 6 yrs ago. Again people at home want you to change but criticize those who change. There are those who don't believe I eat cassave, potatoes, ugali, samaki, basically every dish I made and ate at home I still do. They say you are lying. May be some changes are too much for some Bt again am not everyone
Submitted by oyomose
Posted January 09, 2009 12:42 AM
Very funny! People on both sides of the coin,those who left and those who never left, often go overboard in their behavior and expectations. But the summer bunnies are a definite plus to Kenya's economy. Forgetting one's mother tongue in 2 years is definitely a no-no.
Submitted by wilsonoketdh
Posted January 09, 2009 12:28 AM
I hope when i go back home i will remember the streets. I know they have changed since i was there 6 years ago. Leaving a broad you have to adopt to their way of dressing. You cant keep dressing the same way as you did before you left your motherland. I mean come on! fashion changes overtime. There is a new fashion in Kenya now which i don't know about, likewise there is a fashion here that no Kenyans back home know about. You can't have both ways no way!
Submitted by gizah
Posted January 09, 2009 12:10 AM
It is true that when u live here you can acquire an accent without noticing it. One because you try to speak idiomatically and phonetically like the guys here so that they can understand you. but some of us overdo it. That is true.You cant forget swahili completely but a few words can escape. however, even if you live here forever you will always have a regional accent because even here all people dont speak the same.
Submitted by dannie55
Posted January 08, 2009 11:46 PM
2 years abroad and cant remember his accent? c'mon, we can spot maringo when whe we see them! i am almost ten years here in united states but i can still drive myself home even after being here 20 years! and my mothertongue is intact!
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