Last week we enjoyed several days at Kenya’s magnificent Indian Ocean coast. While there, Michael and I indulged in a full-day boat trip to a secluded island. I spent the night before in eager anticipation of the lobster/shrimp lunch that we had been promised – and was not disappointed. WOW! But what we did not anticipate was being the only two people among about 100 who did not speak Italian. Yes, the boats were full of Italian tourists. But also the Kenyan captains, beach boys, cooks, waiters . . . everyone was fluent in Italian and used it throughout the day. Interesting!
Apart from reveling in the majesty of the mighty ocean that day, I realized afresh that the irritating ‘white-people-always-have-a-lot-of-money’ mentality is an attitude that Kenyans have come by quite fairly. Consider that the largest industry in Kenya is tourism. Largest industry. In other words, Kenya is defined by and dependent on wazungu (white people) who come with money! It is basic to the economic and cultural fiber of this nation.
Back in Nairobi, at a rather upscale coffee shop, I couldn’t help but notice that probably 90% of the diners were wazungu. It is a scenario that is repeated over and over.
I continually feel frustrated when, because of being white, I am viewed as rich. It is draining to be bombarded with needs – that you are expected to meet – just because you are a mzungu. It is embarrassing when teams that come for missions are inevitably met with request after request for financial help. Dependency is debilitating. Dependence on the “white” West is a mindset we are trying to break.
But all I am saying in this little speel is that I really should not blame Kenyans for this mode of thinking. It is not without reason. Based on most of the evidence, and on the facts of global inequality / injustice, it is a very fair assumption. In our struggle to overcome this ungodly thinking pattern, we probably need to extend more grace. That is, “in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding” (Eph 1:8).
Grace to you!