Is there such a word as coastarian??? Well I don’t know and I don’t care much for the word as long as it got your attention. I suppose it refers to people of the Kenyan Coast mostly mijikendas, Swahilis and the Arabs. Like all other regions,coast people too have habits that are akin to them alone and to fit you may find it necessary to learn and accept them.
When you hear food is served, don’t wait for plates to be passed around. The serving plate will usually be sooo large with enough serving for a whole family. You see people at the Coast believe in sharing and this is probably why people eat from the same plate. No spoons,forks nor chop sticks for that matter because eating is by hands. Yes, you heard me right my friend everyone uses their hands to eat, something I have never mastered even having grown in this city. If you don’t know how to do this my friend just know chances of leaving the table hungry are very high,I should know. I can let you in on a secret though, don’t visit these people on an empty stomach just in case.
Ever listened to hardcore rap and all those African American music? See the way they use curse words every second? Well that’s also how Swahilis at the Coast do it, cussing at everything and nothing. Calling mothers, fathers and children unholy names with every word they utter. And just like in rap music they do not mean to insult their audience it’s all in jest, a show of camaraderie. If you don’t know this you might get yourself in endless fights just because someone has called you gay when they didn’t even mean it.
If you are a lady you need to learn how to be completely helpless in all you do especially when you are using public transport, matatus. When boarding get the conductor to hold whatever luggage you have plus carry your baby if you have one. Make a fuss of it until the driver shouts at him and if he makes no effort do not board the matatu. What’s his job if it’s not to help with minor shopping and carrying your grown ass toddler as you drag yourself into his seat. Yes refuse to sit on any other seat except his designated spot because you are alighting close by which is at the end of the matatu terminus.
You must learn how to laugh, laugh as if it’s your last day to laugh. Or better still laugh like you are being paid, at no joke that is. You must learn all types of laughs plus their body language for different occasions. Laughter that tells your neighbor you just arrived and are spoiling for a fight. There’s that laughter that you are supposed to feel in your thai lands.
In Coast there are common mistakes that can not be forgiven for. If you are going somewhere and you lose your way do not bother to ask people you didn’t greet on your way there. Just the way you did not see them is how they’ll happen to go deaf on your queries. Unlike Nairobi people if you behave they’ll give you genuine directions and or offer to take you to your destination. Just like it is in your upcountry greetings are expected in this ujamaa city.
We know you like to throw stones at the neighborhood cats and sometimes even steal their chicken for dinner but woe unto you if you even think of pulling this. Not all animals you see are animals, some are humans camouflaged to get the job done. In just the same way not all pretty girls are what they seem so beware and be wary.