I am appalled at the rising scale of rudeness around us, fellow Kenyans.
A day hardly passes without a rude exchange in my house, workplace or neighbourhood. It seems we are living in an age of rage, where rudeness is the in-thing, preferred by both the young and those who should know better.
In my neighbourhood, passenger service vehicle crew are the rudest.
The average conductor can drive you up the wall with his sharp tongue, and woe unto anyone who engages a tout in a verbal duel.
Some people have attempted to respond rudely to these matatu ruffians, but they end up being verbally bullied.
Other passengers have attempted corporal action, but this option is highly discouraged, unless you are trained in martial arts.
Restaurant workers are a harangued lot, particularly in the hovels and backstreet eateries I patronise.
Here, customers yell all manner of invectives at the waitstaff, and the poor employees can do nothing about it.
“That meal is taking too long,” an impatient patron may roar at a waitress, just moments after placing an order. “Kwani unaifunga tai?” The Internet is even worse. You may post an intelligent remark, but instead of eliciting ‘likes’ and/or retweets, it generates a slew of negative sentiments.
A similar pattern of rudeness is slowly taking shape in my hacienda.
On Sunday morning, I witnessed a heated argument between my sons.
Russell was taking a bath in readiness for church, but was taking too long, which did not go down well with his elder brother.
“Get out, Russell. We are getting late for church,” Jimmy moaned, but Russell would not budge.
For close to 20 minutes, Jimmy pleaded, yelled and banged on the bathroom door to no avail. Russell simply went about his business while humming a tune.
Stay informed. Subscribe to our newsletter
Then the conversation took an ugly twist, with Jimmy demanding to know if Russell was bathing or washing a ship.
“Kwani utaoga mpaka kesho?” he raved.
Unmoved, his sibling replied with an equally surly remark, and things went downhill from there.
Russell maintained that he would bathe until he felt sufficiently clean for the coming week, so Jimmy could go hug a cactus.
This only added to Jimmy’s ire. “Basi oga halafu hiyo maji itabaki ukunywe yote ili sisi wengine tusioge!” he roared.
The frustrated boy then wobbled to the living room, his face contorted in misery.
Russell followed long afterwards, and calmly savoured his victory. He had easily beaten his brother, and his beaming face showed his glee.
Moments later, little Tiffany emerged from her room and joined her brothers. She took a long and pitiful look at Jimmy as he brooded over his loss. He was not amused by this unsolicited attention.
“Why are you staring at me like that?” he demanded of his little sister.
One would think that Tiffany, being the youngest member of our household, is an easy mark for bullying, but nothing could be further from the truth. To his horror, Jimmy found himself on the receiving end of a verbal assault.
“Kwani nikikuangalia ulikuwa umeangalia wapi?” Tiffany posed.
She added that for Jimmy to have noticed her stare, he must have been staring, too.
Having lost yet another duel, my firstborn rose from his seat, grabbed a pair of slippers and quickly disappeared into the bathroom.
Mama Jimmy had followed these exchanges and was not amused.
“That was no way to talk to your brother. You must apologise,” she admonished Russell.
In his defence, Russell claimed he had been irked by Jimmy’s insistence, but the comptroller would hear none of it.
She then turned to Tiffany and administered a similar tongue-lashing, warning that bushman communication techniques had no place in our hacienda.