Kenyan girls take over Nigerian fete

UNCLE TED

By ALEX KIPROTICH

It was a cultural night like no other. Everybody came with own expectations.

Some came to celebrate the Nigerian culture and language, others the entertainment but for the Kenyan women it was a moment to hunt for Nigerian men or at least their wealth.

Attendants at the Nijja Night at Nairobi’s Carnivore Restaurant on Saturday arrived in the most colourful and unique African attires.

The women varied their styles of dressing. Others wore a flowing single piece of dress while some put on a loose blouse that went down little below the waist completed by colourful piece of cloth wrapped around the waist. The headgear put a lovely touch to the women’s attire.

Men dressed in free shirts that flowed loosely halfway the thighs with matching trousers and caps.

Ashantez Juma and her sister Irene at the event.

Sasha Luigi in Nigerian-style dress.

The dress code was creative and interesting that one would easily think it was a fashion show contest.

Nigerians living in Kenya met to celebrate their rich and varied cultural heritage. The brothers from West Africa made the place colourful with their tie and dye attire as they reconnected with fellow citizens.

"I have not been to my country for the last six years and this gives me an opportunity to reconnect with my roots," says Dili Chade, a Nigerian living and working in Nairobi.

Chade, from Abuja, who runs a cyber cafÈ in the city centre, says Nigerians are proud of their culture, which makes them unique from the rest of Africans.

"We are proud of our cultures and languages," he says.

Chinedu Okeli says the culture night made them feel at home, as they met old friends.

"It is fantabulous. It looks like we are at home as we meet our brothers. We do not mind what those who do not understand our culture would think of us," he says.

But though it was Nigerian cultural night, it was rather a Kenyan ladies’ night as the latter swamped the event in Nigerian attire overshadowing the hosts.

Experience culture

"I love Nigerians and everything they do. They do it to perfection," says Sasha Luigi, whom everyone could easily mistake for a Nigerian given her attire.

Luigi describes Nigerian men as very aggressive and not bogged down by what other people think of them.

She says she attended the night just to experience their culture and appreciate their music.

"These guys do everything to perfection and I wanted to experience them," she says.

Brigit Achieng’ says she loves everything Nigerian and could not miss the event. She claims unlike the Kenyan counterparts, Nigerian men know how to treat their women.

"I love the way these guys talk. They are unique and do not fake or ape westerners," she says.

Another reveller, Damaris Waiganjo, says she admires the Nigerian English (their accent). "You can’t believe it but when I strike conversation with them I am just at their mercy," she adds.

And as the night wore out, the women in flowing Nigerian attire were replaced with skimpily dressed one who at first faked accent before giving up.

The belief that Nigerians are rich seems to have drawn the large crowd of Kenyan women to the event.

"I do not mind the stereotypes that they get their money through clandestine means. Money is money," says Julie Wanjiru, adding that she has learnt to accept them the way they are.

"We have to appreciate their uniqueness because that is what defines them," she adds.

And for Rose Kamau, attending the function could have been a chance to strike it rich overnight. She says she wanted to hook up with a rich Nigerian.

Gateway to wealth

"I know they are really rich and who knows, it might be my gateway to extravagance and wealth," she told this writer.

And the brothers from West Africa did not disappoint. They could buy expensive whisky by the bottle, worth more than Sh15,000, as opposed to the normal per-tot Kenyan revellers go for.

On entertainment, revellers were treated to the best of Nigerians. The celebrated stand up comedian Bright Okpocha (Basket Mouth) and the new music sensation, Niger Connection aka 9CON group, connected well with the revellers.

The comedian extolled the beauty of Kenyan women sending them into fits of laughter.

"Kenyan women are very blessed. When waiting for them to pass, it really takes long because the behinds take longer to clear the way," he said in his Nigeria accent to overwhelming cheers.

Favourite Nigerian traditional food was also in plenty ranging from isu (spiced boiled yams), dodo (fried plantains), efo (green stew and iyan (pounded yams). Other foods were crab, shrimp, mutton, lamb, turkey, geese, pigeon, fish, guinea fowls and other seafood.

Ashantez Juma describes the event as a good way of having a feel of what goes on at home thousands of miles away.

She said it was an opportunity to sample some of their traditional food she has never eaten for years while she was away from home.

"When in foreign land, you miss everything at home and any opportunity that re-enacts that home scenario is a welcome break from being buried in other people’s ways of life," she says.

Her sister, Irene, says she attended the function to watch celebrity performances. She describes Nigerian celebs as real and not overrated compared to Kenyans.

"Kenyan celebrities are too much to themselves," she adds.

Nigerian culture derives from the mixture of its different ethnic groups with Arabic and western European cultural influences.

A Nigerian reveller, Juma Okwon, says he attended the event to, apart from appreciating the culture of his people, also appreciate the beauty of Kenyan women.

"Kenyan women are beautiful and walk like stray angels. I love them and won’t mind taking one to Lagos," he says.