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However, they’re fascinated with her hair, which is a different texture, and curlier, and every time she comes home she has a GIGANTIC Afro from all the children running their fingers through it!

On addressing elders: It’s discouraged to address an elder by his or her first name here. Smith, you call her by the name of her first-born child.

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Claire is really tall, and my mother-in-law looked at her one day and said, in Kikuyu, “Mwana ndaigirirwo ihiga!

” I asked her what that meant, and she told me, “A child does not carry a stone on its head!

For me, the smell and sight of flowers is quintessential Kenya.

On culture shock: Despite having worked and lived before in very basic conditions in Africa, we both experienced some culture shock when we moved to Nairobi after spending a year in England.

A friend told me her family feared bad luck when they saw baby clothes she’d washed on the clothesline before her baby was born. If you hear an owl hooting near your home at night, it is believed that you will soon suffer a death in your family!

Apart from superstitions, I’ve heard many Kenyan proverbs about parenting and motherhood.

I am known as “Mama Claire.” I think this is such a sweet way for children to address adults respectfully, but without feeling too stuffy or strict.

It also makes it much easier to remember other parents’ names on the playground!

A few years ago, a city servant responsible for collecting parking fees confiscated my car keys and threatened to put a boot on my tire if I didn’t pay him a bribe!

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