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Americanisation: Why we can't have enough of the US

Xn Iraki
 This tuk tuk on Thika Road epitomises the American influence in Kenya. [XN Iraki]

It started with movies and music. We all knew of Robert De Niro, Michael Jackson, and other celebrities.

Today, we know of Taylor Swift and other younger stars.

Later we started wearing clothes themed on US flag.

Parents started naming their children the “star names”. James, Mary, and other Biblical names have slowly given way to more earthly names.

The latest dalliance with America is immigrating there. But for those who can’t get there, mostly hustlers, the American flag seems a good fallback position.

A tuk tuk on Thika adorned with US flag left no doubt no one is left behind in the race to “America.” 

Americanisation is for all. Our elites looked to America to get us a new constitution, often copying sections verbatim, even calling our ministers secretaries. 

Media has done well exporting the American mystic. Let’s add the language, English. 

Why don’t we export our cultural influence like Americans?

Think of finding an American car painted with our flag colors. We lack the tools like movies, 24-hour cable TV and leaders who take pride in being Kenyans. Remember nanjivunia kuwa Mkenya? 

Imagine the US government restricting its government officials from traveling abroad. But we have to do that. We travel abroad because it’s cool, a status symbol. And the most popular destination is the US.

Popular American culture is espoused locally by business names like Dallas, Oklahoma, and Texas among others. Check your neighborhood. 

Such popular culture is good for business. Americans find it easy to enter our markets because they are known. 

They change the image of their country for the better. That creates demand for their goods and services and eventually creates a self-perpetuating market, you even feel guilty for not being influenced by American culture.

That is reinforced by catchy adverts. Call me Ken or Kate, not Ciku or Nyangi, is often a subtle expression of “catching up.” 

Americanism is even passed from one generation to the next, just like religion. 

That tuk tuk themed in American flag is not just about beauty but creating a market for American goods and services. Nigerians mimicked that with their movies before they settled on our banks and some add girls. 

What is our key cultural export? Got a dose of American influence? Talk to us

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