Kenya is a peculiar country. Our company law and business practices closely mirror Britain’s. This reflects the lasting influence of the Britons who ruled Kenya for more than 68 years.
We also picked the class system from them, though it’s much coded in Kenya. The latest pick is gin and tonic.
When it comes to the political system, we emulate the United States with its governors, senators and president. We conveniently did not see America has no nominated senators or MPs. We also conveniently forgot their Protestant work ethic.
When it comes to the economic system, we face the East, trying to emulate South Korea, Japan or China. And around election time, we face the past with elders gaining unusual prominence.
In religion, we are very Western with 85 per cent of the population describing itself as Christian. So much that every meeting particularly in public places starts with a prayer. It does not matter that the constitution refers to Kenya as a secular state.
In education, we inherited the UK system, ditched it for Canadian and now shifting again to the Eastern system; read Japanese, or is it Chinese?
Kenya can be described as having compound eyes to see in all directions. Does this slow our socio-economic progress?
Travelling around the world leaves no doubt we are selective on what to pick from other countries. Let’s add names: Did you notice the unusual names of the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education top candidates; Diana Ross, Ian Duncan and Bruce Mackenzie, among others?
We can also be creative. Our latest is ‘screaming’ messages on billboards. I have not seen such giant adverts elsewhere. They are as authentically Kenyan as M-Pesa.
Do such adverts reflect our lack of attention? Why scream at us? Why such huge adverts when cyberspace is the place to be?
Do we really notice them? Maybe children do, but adults are absorbed in their phones. Noticed the first thing visitors ask is the Wi-Fi password?
Billboards probably reflect our affinity for screaming in classrooms, churches and streets. Have you noted the loud music on occasions such as funerals, and in pubs, matatus and private cars?
Can’t we communicate silently, as in prayer? Let me ask again; why scream at us?