I recently had an experience that helped me to understand one of the ‘race/collective consciousness’ beliefs here in Kenya and how deeply it affects their everyday lives. It has allowed me to open to even more compassion and awe for the students that are learning to apply the principles of Science of Mind and are making such huge leaps in transforming their lives.
It was a huge decision to purchase a car here! Driving in Nairobi can be a challenge… The new government has been making huge steps in insuring that drivers are beginning to adhere to road rules… and there has been incredible amounts of road construction both in Nairobi and outlying areas. That said nothing here happens in a hurry! Yet another Kenyan cultural belief that things happen in Kenyan time.
The car I purchased came directly from Japan and as a result sits very low; so with the potholes, rough roads and huge traffic ‘bumps’ to slow down traffic it became clear that I needed to have the car raised.
I had heard ‘stories’ about the mechanics here; how you had to stay and watch them every moment as they would take your good parts and replace them with faulty parts so that you had to return for even more repairs. This was of particular concern to me as I am not mechanically inclined; I always figured that I didn’t need to know how the car ran – after all that is what mechanics are for! So, even if I watched them I wouldn’t have a clue! And of course, I am a woman and a muzungu (white person) so it is a given that I would be taken advantage of… On and on my thoughts went… and yes I am a metaphysical minister and I know how my thoughts create, so I had even more concern in finding a mechanic!
Shortly after purchasing the car I was making a trip to Kisii to visit the students in that area; while there I stay with Mishael and his family (from earlier posts). Mishael’s brother has a car so I decided to ask him if he could arrange with his mechanic to have the car raised. Much to my delight they said they could fix the car the next morning; this was perfect as I had a class booked for 1pm that afternoon. Now, Mishael lives in Nyabagege which is about half an hour from Kisii where the mechanic is and the class was in Rongo about half an hour in the other direction from Nyabagege; which was perfect as then we could stop and change clothes before going to the class. They said to be there at 8am and the repairs would take about half an hour… even giving extra time (to account for Kenyan time) we thought this was good timing. I really am an eternal optimist!
We arrived shortly before 8 and they (about 6 young men) promptly put the car up on blocks (read rocks) and removed all of the tires. I really wish I had taken pictures… the ‘garage’ is just a small tin shack on the side of the road and they do the repairs in the dirt in front. I was blessed to have Mishael with me to deal with them as I don’t speak the local vernacular and I don’t think they spoke any English. Then they sent one of the boys off on a boda/boda (small motorbike) to find the parts. Mishael suggested I go across the street for a coffee as I was attracting a lot of unwanted attention… I don’t imagine they had ever had a white woman there before!
They were still insisting that we would be done within the hour, so when I still hadn’t heard from Mishael by 10:30am I was getting a little anxious and went back to the shop assuming that the car would be ready soon. Every time Mishael asked how much longer they had another excuse… the boy couldn’t find the right parts… the car was too new… there was an accident causing traffic delays… etc, etc. By 11:30 my anxiety level was increasing as my car was still up on rocks and they refused to put it back together, insisting that the parts ‘were on the way’. So, it was becoming apparent that I would be late for my class, which is a big deal for me as I have been firm in insisting that the classes start on time given the belief in Kenyan time that means they may arrive at anytime during the scheduled class… even up to just minutes before the end of the time expecting to have a full class.
At noon Mishael another mechanic finally hired another boda/boda to go and retrieve the parts… and yes they both rode on the back of the bike! By 1pm (when my class was to be starting) we were just leaving Kisii – about an hour away. Mishael had contacted one of the other students and had him go Rongo to let anyone that came know that we would be late. When we finally arrived (hungry and dirty) we did have a very lively class as I shared my learning with them.
So, on to the good part… my understanding of the culture. I have been aware of the tendency for Kenyans to tell you what they think you want to hear… and I have come to realize that it is rare to find a Kenyan man that will admit he doesn’t know something. The interesting thing is that if you were to ask them if they tell the truth they will insist that they are ‘honest’ Christians. They don’t consider not telling the truth as lying and I don’t even think they are really aware of what they are doing; or of the consequences.
In talking with the SOM students about this phenomenon they all agreed that this is standard Kenyan operating procedure and that not only do they not tell the truth they also will not take responsibility for the results, blaming others or circumstances for the consequences. The result is that there is an underlying current of distrust, both of each other and even more importantly of themselves. Not only do they automatically assume that what they are being told is not the truth they expect it. They don’t expect me to tell the truth either so when I make an agreement they don’t expect me to fulfill my part of the agreement. This has made so many things that I have experienced make sense!
Many years ago, before I started my SOM journey, I took a series of courses offered by Context Assoc.; the first course is called the Pursuit of Excellence and everyday there is a sign at the front of the room that gets bigger everyday… it says ‘Tell the Truth’. I remember how impactful that concept was for me, when I realized how many ways that I didn’t tell the truth – both to others and myself. How I might enlarge or expand a story, or perhaps withhold information that I thought might ‘hurt’ someone’s feelings, or perhaps tell a little ‘white lie’ to escape punishment or criticism. Then, in my SOM training realizing the power of our word cemented my current beliefs in radical honesty and living in integrity. I am currently facilitating 2 classes based on the 4 Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, the first agreement is ‘Be Impeccable with your Word’ and the students are being pulled into a new awakening of the power of their word; and they are loving it! I am getting requests from many others to offer this again, many from people that have not been aware of CSL Kenya until now. What a great way to introduce people to the Centre. The challenge is that the books are not available here so if you have a copy you would like to donate (of this book or any other metaphysical books) please send them to the Edmonton address and I will bring them with me when I return to add to the lending library.