By Gilbert Mwangi
The other day,my peer Charles Maina did a hilarious piece on the tell tale signs that one has joined middle class in Kenya.
The house of Mumbi operates on a different wavelength- such that the indicators for their middle class are different.Here are some mannerisms of Kikuyu middle class men:
1.Kiama Kia Mburi
Every middle class man is joining this kiama(chama) here and there.Most are vehicles for cultural (re)socialisation and political sensisitation.The rest is secret- I belong to one and we are bound by group rules.
2.Farm or Farming Project
Middle class Kikuyu men will have a farm or farming project in far flung place like Ng’arua( Nyeri men),Loc 20( Muranga men) and Ndeiya( Kiambu men).These gives them excuse to go for road trips with their buddies,much to the changrin of their wives who are left minding family business.
Normally called Bikafu.It doesnt have to be necessarily new-as long as its servicable.Those who cant afford a good pickup go for those hideous Toyota Noah vans.
Whereas the rest of Kenyan middle class will work hard to get foreign accents,a Kikuyu middle man will retain his thick Murang’a or Nyeri accent,no matter how high he goes up the social ladder.Which means he will always say ‘rori’ instead of ‘ lorry’.
5.Mgeni wa Heshima
When a Kikuyu man gets to middle class he often gets invited to harambees as guest of honour in churches,schools,etc.Most of these invites are engineered by their moms and aunties back in the village who miss their son in the city.
6.Leather Jacket and Stetson
This is obligatory weekend wear for attending ruracios,weddings and harambees.Its best accessorised with a toothpick dangling stylishly from one side of the mouth.
Instead of pizzas and broccolli,a Kikuyu middle class man diet is natural.Which includes yams,arrowroots,boilo,terere etc.Reason why a little known outfit like Kijana Msafi Hotel is popular with River Road millionaires.
Most Kikuyu middle class men are in business so trips to Uganda,Turkey,Dubai and ‘Shaina’ are a way of life.They dont tag their wives along-they are left manning hardwares shops so that the employees do not steal.
Middle class Kikuyu men do not call each other by their actual names.Instead, they refer to each other with honorarific titles like Chairman,Munene(senior),Mheshimiwa,Mutongoria(leader) etc
Most Kikuyu men abhor suits and prefer smart casuals. The wear is convenient since it enables a man to switch from a business meeting in upper Nairobi to his shop in River road.Later,he can don a stetson then dash to Bluesprings Hotel for mugithi jig.Or an album launch by Ben Githae.
These men rarely go to Java or KFC to eat dry chicken that tastes like boiled sawdust.Instead,they prefer village themed joints and hotels where everybody knows each other and connections are made.And where they can get riparian dishes like tumbukiza served by matronly mamas who keep telling them : ‘Wee Njoroge wa spare niwandeire’.( Njoroge of spares,I wont mind a ride in your sleek pickup!)
12.Middle Class Understatements
You will hear a man say-‘Niko na kamzigo nangoja kutoka Shaina’.Which turns out to be 5 containers of electricals that can flood a small town.
Another one will say-‘kuna kagari nanunua kamenipeleka mbio’.Which turns to be a 20m prime mover he is buying.
Understatements are our way of life.