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Drug and alcohol fuelled Kenya Cowboys?

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Christmas is coming up and since getting home I learned that two people I know have had break-ins while they were at home at night, one at gun point. Anything like this always sends ripples across the community and you hope it’s not going to be you next. However, I also heard about friends in London being threatened by teenaged girl gangs, or even mugged outside their children’s schools whilst dropping off and picking up. One friend’s friend had their hospital bag stolen from their car when going in to have a baby, which seems a bit desperate. After all who really wants breast pads, disposable pants and tiny baby vests? Also, we are quick to assume that it’s just our friends and neighbours in the small expat circle who are targets for robberies, but when I was moaning about a rise in crime to a bank teller in Karen she said ‘well I was held at gun point in my house last year’. Statistics say that the middle class Kenyan professionals are worst hit by crime in Nairobi.

There was another annoying article in the UK newspapers a couple of weeks ago. It was in the Guardian G2 on 26th October and talked about whites who say they are Kenyans but send their children to school in England and talk of ‘drug and alcohol fuelled Kenya cowboys’ who are involved in tourism and conservation in Kenya. I’m not a white Kenyan, but still feel quite offended on their behalf. It’s so often the case that a journalist comes over from Europe, interviews a few eccentrics (with an average age of 80) whose views are at best slightly old fashioned, who then creates a picture parodying ‘ex-colonials’ living in ‘happy valley’, who are oblivious to the world that is going on around them and totally stuck in a time warp, unable to move on. If you interview anyone of 80 they are invariably stuck in a time warp, whichever country they live in. Their houses have not been redecorated since the 1950s and they still refer to the war or in the case of Kenya ‘the Emergency or Mau Mau’ on a regular basis. Most whites in Kenya are getting on with living in a multi cultural society. They are not land owners but are working together in businesses with bottom lines and profit and loss accounts, exactly like the rest of the world. If a thirty to forty year old was interviewed, black or white, they would probably have similar goals, aiming to earn enough to educate their children to the highest level achievable within their budget. There are many wealthy black Kenyans and Asians who send their children overseas to be educated and many whites in Kenya who find they cannot afford to do this. Finally, it’s not quite fair to make drugs and alcohol peculiar to white Kenya cowboys. I suppose it just makes a good story and sells newspapers to drum up extra racial conflict and make Kenya sound like a backwater.

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