Monday, December 8, 2008

Kenya vignette: News from November 4th- election excitement and language barriers

It’s election day and we are excited, even though we’re about 8-9 hours ahead of the States. Voting is going on now, but we won’t know the results until tomorrow morning.

Everyone is super excited for Obama to win. They have a lot of unrealistic expectations for what Obama will do for Kenya (kind of like the unrealistic expectations a lot of Americans have for what he’ll be able to do in America).

I guess everyone is excited for Obama except Ruth. She dislikes Obama because his father’s tribe has treated her tribe poorly. So she is a staunch supporter of McCain. Last night we had a discussion where Ruth explained to us that there were 42 tribes in Kenya- it’s the different tribes within the same national boundaries that causes so much political trouble in Africa. There’s a great deal of trouble in the Congo right now because of tribal differences.

Anyway, Ruth couldn’t wrap her mind around the idea that there are no tribes in America or Canada. She asked us a few times to make sure we understood her correctly.

Speaking of misunderstandings, Lucy called me over the other night to ask me about all the cushions I had. I got a little nervous, trying to think when I had told her that I had cushions. She told me that when we had been making my bed, I told her that I had a lot of cushions, and she wanted to know if I still had them. I looked at Cynthia for help. Cynthia was also confused. She asked Lucy if she meant blankets.

“No, cushions,” Lucy repeated. After a couple of minutes of this, a light suddenly went on in my head.

“Do you mean questions?” I asked her.

“Yes, cushions!” she replied. The way she pronounced the “q” and left out the “t” made the two words indistinguishable. And I had told her that I’d had a lot of questions.

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