Mimi Notenka Kudenko- means I love you

EDIT: From my dashboard, I find that many people view this post when they Google the translation of “I love you” from English to Kiswahili (Swahili)…the loosest translation would be Ninakupenda…penda means to love or to like. Other people find this post when they try to translate “Mimi Notenka Kudenko”. I have to tell you- it does not mean I love you in Kiswahili. In fact the only Kiswahili word in that phrase is Mimi which means Me…the rest, is gibberish. I hope this helps, and if someone swore to you that they “Notenka Kudenko”…forgive them- it is not their fault, blame Jodi Piccoult!

In case you are trying to figure it out, it’s not Russian. According to Ms. Jodi Picoult (New York Times Bestselling author), Mimi Notenka Kudenko” means “I love you” in “Swahili”. Now, I don’t know about you, but the first time I read this, after I was done laughing, I thought “hmm, so is love ‘Notenka’ or ‘Kudenko’?” Now I understand why Oprah was so pissed off at James Frey (I may not agree with her public flagellation- I thought she was more ‘zen’ but hey, now we know what you get when you cross Ms. O-people have been warned). I know that authors have great license to invent stuff in their books, in fact, the winner of the Costa Book of the Year award for this year is an agoraphobic (now recovered) London-based author of a book set in 1860s Canada- a country she has never visited, but researched extensively.  So, I wondered, is it that Jodi Picoult didn’t realize that Kiswahili is spoken widely enough that in this day and age, considering how many Kiswahili speakers are living in North America, considering Kiswahili is taught at several American schools, considering that we have the internet, she could have found out quite easily, the Kiswahili translation for “I love you”. Or is it that Jodi Picoult figured “No one will ever know, or care if I make this up!” I had really come to enjoy her books for a light read before bed…but now, I really cannot read her anymore- I can’t get “Mimi Notenka Kudenko” out of my mind- however hard I try…it feels like a betrayal of sorts, and until I figure out what the reasoning was behind the phrase, no more Jodi for me. Her books are verboten in any library I ever own.

(Digression: It was exactly how I felt after reading Kuki Gallman’s book about Africa- you know, the one that was made into a movie starring Kim Basinger – there was all this ungrammatical Kiswahili that left me wondering whether she actually knows any Kenyans, because a primary school child could have pointed out the errors. Very disappointing, makes you wonder about other stuff…if you can’t be bothered to proofread the Kiswahili in your memoirs and you claim to love and live in a country surrounded by over 30 million speakers of the damn language. It is all rather disturbing especially since my Canadian friend loved the book and found it so evocative. I was like “I’ll give you evocative!”)

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Filed under Dunia ina Mambo


Talk of taking a hiatus! I have been away from my blog for ages for a good reason- my book is coming along and I have decided to focus my energies on getting that completed, add the lazy days of summer, throw in a quick trip to Kenya this September till we are here: November.

Clearly, I need to spruce things up around here, clear the cobwebs, update the blogroll, catch up on some of the blogs I have neglected to read!

The soundtrack for the return has got to be the new Cee Lo Green album: ‘The Lady Killer’…I downloaded it from iTunes last night and have not stopped playing it.

Back shortly!!!


Filed under Uncategorized

Take Care of You? You Take Care of Me!

We hear the advice that “Kenyan women need to take care of their men to keep them” so often that it should be officially retired to the ‘Museum of Cliches’. That in 2010 a man my age needs ‘taking care of’ bothers me. As I commented in a reply to a comment left here:

I find that when it comes to relationships between Kenyan men and women, the onus seems to fall on women to do all the self-improvement, the caring, the work related to being in love…where are the rules for men? Do they not also have responsibilities? I believe that a man who, while in a relationship that he chose to enter freely, cannot be an equally caring partner or treat his woman as well as she treats him, is better off wandering off to someone else who enjoys being disregarded.

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Filed under Kenyan Lurve

Who are these ‘People’?

Apologies- this is long…with usual digressions…am just exuberant to be back!

Recently my friends and I were discussing a gossipy story out of Nairobi regarding a certain man’s (alleged) infidelity. A story that came complete with the usual villains: a pregnant mistress (alleged) aka ‘the Homewrecker’ and angels: an (allegedly) estranged wife. Firstly, we were all highly amused by the amount of detail contained in what we can only call third party hearsay- I mean, word out of Nairobi had the gestational progress of ‘the Homewrecker’ well charted and am sure that out there in the ether, exists a story detailing the Whens and Wheres of this affaire. Secondly, we found that most of the vitriol was (not surprisingly) being poured over the alleged mistress- I wondered aloud to one of my friends, “who- under the age of 40 calls such a woman a ‘Homewrecker’?” Thirdly, the gleeful-yet-tempered-with-holier-than-thou attitude which had otherwise decent people spreading this story in their social circles left us feeling uncomfortable- after all, wasn’t this a private matter for the principals to sort out amongst themselves rather than cannon fodder for the gossip militia?
Am not one to sit and pontificate over what is right and wrong about people’s relationships- as a human being prone to error myself and all, I think that I am barred from writing the ‘New 10 commandments’ of relationships, so hearing about another man with another woman not his wife didn’t shatter my world or leave me urging vengeance on ‘the Homewrecker’ or ‘the Philanderer’ or feeling excessive pity for ‘the Devoted Wife’. Rather, I was left thinking, “and how does this affects me?”
Here are some observations made which have brought me to this conclusion:

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Filed under Kenyan Lurve, Relationships, Uncategorized

Proust Questionnaire

I enjoy reading Vanity Fair magazine. The last page usually carries the Proust Questionnaire that a celebrity gets to fill out (right now they have a feature on their site that allows you to fill out the questionnaire, then compares your answers to find which celebrities’ answers are a close match to yours- my closest match was Nora Ephron and surprisingly, Donald Trump). It’s quite entertaining and a neat way to round off your reading experience. Apparently the origin of the questionnaire is traced to a parlour game played in Parisian salons back in the day…but like most good things it endures. I thought that would be a good way to ease back into blogdom- I tried to be honest, not giving each question too much thought, rather going with the first answer that bubbles up when I consider each one.

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I am back!

There is nothing like “your account is temporarily available” to end your love affair with Facebook. I am tired of always having to wait to access my account. Screw it. From now on my friends, if you want to know what’s on my mind, please read my blog!

Yes, I realize that being a Crackbook addict I will probably scurry back there as soon as the current technical issues are resolved, I know too that I didn’t blog very often to begin with, but this outage has made me look at my blog a different way.  I love my blog and I have missed it- after all, this is the only place where I can type and type and type without meeting character limits and other irritants, where people comment not because they have to (FB comments can be quite inane at times) but because they want to. The blog wasn’t broken, no fixes needed, so I am back.

Here’s the promise: I will start blogging afresh. Note, I am not promising daily updates as that would be a lie, but I will give my word and return to my usual semi monthly output.

Starting tonight. To come: the music of my summer, some stuff I have learned since I was last here, and general silliness. Be right back!


Filed under Uncategorized

Kenyans and Facebook…

Can you tell that I am ‘otherwise occupied’ with Summer fun? Let’s say that since the sun started rising at 5 am, I have been busy enjoying it to the max (and I have the sunburn to prove it!). Working on other stuff has left my blog to suffer (there there poor baby)! I’m proud though to have submitted two short stories for consideration in a writing competition later this year so my absence has not been all about joyous, easy fun!

I am on Facebook for at least 30 minutes a day (OK, I lie, probably a lot more time than that) and I have to say that my opinion of it is mostly positive- after all, I have an inner circle of friends who put up links to interesting stories, who share well-narrated albums of their exploits…you get the picture. Facebook allows us to keep in touch between phonecalls and to maintain a sense that we’re not miles and miles apart which was the way it felt before facebook.  This inner circle of friends (small group) has full access to my profile. Then there are the ‘limited profile’ friends who only see the little that I’ll let them- these are people I may have gone to school with but am no longer close to, or people who are newer acquaintances. I never accept friendship requests from people I don’t like or want to share information with (the point of Facebook after all is sharing) and from the start, the demarcation between all-access and limited profile was very distinct.

There are countless articles out there about Facebook etiquette. I do not want to be a Facebook pest: I don’t post anything there that I wouldn’t tell friends face to face, or tag them in unflattering poses just because I happen to like how I look in a shot, or clutter my profile with endless quizzes or bother them to join new groups or upload new applications which I have discovered etc…I don’t send them chain letters from my email either so why start that up on Facebook.

As more and more people in Kenya joined Facebook, my friends list grew (family, old high school and primary school classmates) quite fast. I don’t have as many friends as some people since my rules for adding them are quite strict, but just from the hundred-and-something friends added, I have learned:

  • People need to have a better handle of Facebook’s privacy settings. I have clicked on a photo of a friend tagged in a stranger’s album and ended up with an eyeful of unflattering pictures seared to memory. Like the one taken at some random party where the highlight seems to be a grown (Kenyan) man, complete with beer potbelly, clad in diapers, with dummy in mouth. Seriously? And these are the ‘young professionals building our country’? If I can see these pictures, so too might your client from tomorrow’s meeting, and instead of listening to your spiel they will be wondering what the hell is wrong with you! If you intend to do stupid crap like this, please keep it to yourself? A camera is not a licence to photograph everything!
  • Some people have decided to use Facebook as their ‘therapy’. If you felt slighted or that you weren’t the cutest back in high school, plonk a few pictures in an album of yourself made up and decked out sitting in your obscenly tacky living room (kwanza there is this one style of couch that is  repeatedly found in all households where bad taste resides…hmmm…it is the ‘velvet sofa’*** of our generation)staring serenely into the distance. Then you sit back and wait for the glowing reviews (I’m yet to see comments on a picture that say, “honey, that style doesn’t suit you, or, have you thought of a strapless bra? snigger snigger). If I see one more picture of so-and-so’s living room!!! These pictures make me wonder, “how come I have never had the urge to pose (mid-week) on my new IKEA sofa, made up, polished and de-clawed, ready for my close-up?”  What is it with people? I’m not saying that I don’t want to see pictures of you, but the obviously posed, stiff pictures a la Ramogi studios get a bit irritating after a while and they reek of a need to be validated as having ‘arrived’. Sorry not to oblige but thanks for the writing fodder.
  • I lump some wedding photos in there- if we are just acquaintances, why am I seeing your wedding album? Isn’t that something special to share with close friends aka those who actually care that you married so-and-so hence the new double-barrelled surname? Again, it reeks of some kind of ‘take that bitches!!!’ indulgence. Or maybe I am not an exhibitionist. Or maybe I don’t view having a husband as an ‘achievement’ like a degree LOL.

Actually, I think Facebook has become the new home for the tea-break-at-work cattiness or church-service-fashion-showdowns our mothers ‘ generation engaged in. It is the place where a young man can put down his exploits for posterity rather than having to wait until all his buddies are in town to hear them. This generation of young Kenyans is putting their whole lives online for everyone to see and they don’t give a damn…on the one hand it makes for interesting research when I’m bored at work, but on the other…

  • Irresponsible posting abounds. People forget (or don’t care) that your wall is public so I have actually seen someone’s pregnancy outed by a ‘friend’s’ comment on their Facebook wall!!! I mean, even if you know of a friend’s good news, please wait until they acknowledge it before you post to their wall! I mean, they know they are pregnant after all, so why the need to post it on their wall? Or, send a private email rather than just blurting it out to the world! Jeez!  Talk of stealing someone’s thunder. Even better, you take a picture with cute guy, a ‘friend’ comments, “Wow! Is that your hubby (hate that word)?”about cute guy…aka your brother! (Serves you right for letting someone who clearly doesn’t know you to see that picture, but said ‘friend’ should send private message rather than reveal their utter ignorance of your family).
  • There are some zealously religious Kenyans on Facebook.  I don’t mind you being religious- I mind you taking each opportunity to bombard me with poorly written, over-the-top, spiritual zest. Seriously, everyone and their mother is releasing religious tracts at a rate that amazes me…you are not the next Billy Graham so please, stop. I am not religious, thank you very much. Now please, stop with the proselytizing! (This should be the lead-in to my next post about the ‘born again Kenyan’ and why I am not a member of an organized religion anymore)
  • The worst of all these observations is the one where I go out with friend A. At one stage of the evening we take pictures and I end up looking like quite the cute thing, but my friend looks a bit odd…so I upload the picture and tag my friend so now anyone who knows me, or her, gets to see me looking fantabulous while my friend looks like crap. OR, the most heinous- a friend was tagged by er campus friend who also had pictures of women taken unbeknownst to them as they walk by, whereby he remarks on their anatomy!!!!! I would kill you!!!! All I could say is that she should…defriend, defriend, defriend this bastard- that is no different than if he stalked the women and put cameras in their bathrooms…who does he think he is? (A young professional who I would never hire if his CV ever came across my desk).

Facebook has made me realize that Kenyans have taken our lack of respect for boundaries online. Oh and privacy?  just a suggestion. They do not distinguish levels of friendship. My close friends are few. The next level of friends is a bit wider, and if I started counting all my acquaintances we would be here all day. They don’t all need to see all about me on Facebook…so I limit their access (what they don’t know won’t hurt them)…I’m happy to get back in touch, and to share the good/sad things that you would like to share with me, but I am also aware that there are things which I do not wish to be privvy to, and would not hate you for leaving me off your ‘close friends’ list (like the pictures of you passed out drunk at some hell drinking hole last weekend.  This perceived lack of privacy is why some of my Kenyan friends are leery of Facebook and its potential for TMI, Weird friends etc BUT, Facebook is fine if you control what/who has access to your information and where/how your information is used. It’s not like the information worms its way there uncontrolled by you- people only see what you let them or what you put out there, so manage the content and you will be fine. With the advent of faster internet access in Kenya, it may be a while before the magnitude of their laissez faire attitude towards their privacy settings hits or hurts some ‘friends’…Facebook: a good tool when used wisely.

OK, I’ve got to go and check whether my friend made it to her new destination as she starts a new adventure!

***At one point in the late 1970s to the early 1980s, a Kenyan family’s status could be measured by their upholstery…there was this style wave that hit the country and took it by storm! The velvet sofa set!! To my knowledge, every middle class home had or aspired to have one.  The colour range was limited to Blue (powder or midnight), Cherry Maroon, Overripe Avocado Green- Brown, and the odd Pink. We had them (ours were-still are- maroon), and it cracks me up now when I think of it! The Sofa Set that defined a nation 🙂

Pardon any snarkiness, Vancouver is experiencing extreme heat. I don’t ‘do heat’ :)…OK, maybe I’m always snarky…


Filed under Dunia ina Mambo

How I Spent My Holiday, Part II

It has definitely taken forever to finish writing Part two! Blame it on my new found success at Spider Solitaire (Difficult- Four Suits)- for years I have not managed to finish a game, then suddenly I complete three back-to-back games, so of course, I have to try and replicate my earlier successes. Plus, I had to deal with a ‘situation’ involving a volunteer position that I hold. Many moons later, here it is. Continue reading


Filed under Miscellaneous Meandering Musings

How I Spent My Holiday, Part I

So, after the serious must come some lightheartedness.

But first, a mini-digression. In primary school, each beginning of term we would be asked to write a composition titled ‘How I Spent My Holidays’. We would also be given a page limit eg 1 page in Std. 2, 4 pages in Std 6 etc. Some smart kids would fill up the pages with sentences like: “we swam and swam and swam and swam. Then we walked, and walked, and walked, and walked’ etc. I promise, this has no ‘filler’…in it’

I spent 13 magical days in Kenya in April and I have to say, I seriously wish that man would go ahead and further develop supersonic travel so it becomes the norm. I ‘wasted’ two whole days (either way) traveling from Vancouver to Nairobi and those were two days I could have spent in more enlightening ways! Continue reading


Filed under Miscellaneous Meandering Musings

Justice. Outrage. Reality Check

From the first time Mr. Cholmondeley appeared on Kenyans’ radar (after he shot and killed a KWS ranger), the public anger unleashed against him has always seemed interesting to me. In no way do I think that outrage at the death of any human being is unjustified. I found disingenuous the reaction to Mr. Cholmondeley’s acquittal in the Samson Ole Sisina murder trial and his subsequent 8 month sentence for manslaughter in the Robert Njoya case.

Almost every comment I have read on different Kenyan news sites has centred on his race, his wealth, his ‘untouchability’ and not on the legal merits of the cases filed against him. In both instances, to me, the conclusions of the trials seem to fit what evidence has been provided.

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Filed under Seriously...

Going Home

For me, traveling to Kenya usually happens on a whim. Rarely do I plan months in advance (or think it through very much). I just wake up with this longing for that warm sun, the sound of insects, a wider range of banana choices, the obituaries in The Nation, my friends, my family and just this sense of relaxation that comes over me as soon as the plane starts taxiing down the runway. I have been having this feeling for a few weeks and after my sister announced that she was traveling to Kenya for a break over Easter, I felt this intense urge to go too. Continue reading


Filed under Miscellaneous Meandering Musings