I LIKE AMERICA


A lone giraffe in Nairobi National Park.
A giraffe -Nairobi in the background

I have been with my mother for about a week.  She lives with my stepfather, in Durham a small city of 230,000 inhabitants in North Carolina. I lived in the US then moved to Nairobi, Kenya. I may bruise some people, but America is way ahead of Kenya and Durham, not a capital, swallows Nairobi in efficiency.

In Nairobi the roads are sprinkled with different sizes, in width and depth, pot holes. The asphalt is so thin that during summers it melts forming waves grabbing your care tires in unwanted directions.

The traffic lights have moods, when not broken they do not work. When they work, policemen direct the traffic without taking into considerations the traffic lights and create monster jams.

In Durham the roads are smooth, tires glide on the asphalt, the directional signs are clear and precise and traffic lights tell you when to make a right or left turn.

In Durham,the sight of a police reassures. In Kenya it worries.

In Durham they use blowers to move the autumn leaves off the curb onto sidewalks and the grass on roads is manicured by workers riding on lawn mowers.

In Nairobi, roads are cleaned with brooms with no handle, and then debris is picked up with ungloved hands. Sometimes, in the capital, herds of hungry cows mow the lawns.

In Durham electricity is continuous, stable and regulated without fluctuation. The few power poles are well grounded and supported by cables covered with yellow sleeves. My mother has beautiful large burned-orange candles for decoration in her house.

In Nairobi candles have a purpose; they give light unless you have your own generator. When it rains , transformers attached to poles spakle like fireworks, emit flames then explode or electrocute.

In America water, flow cold or hot from taps direct to your sink, the pipes do not rumble, they are quiet.

In Nairobi, water pipes thunder when corked by air bubbles and when the capital stops providing water you buy it from the same capital at exorbitant prices. 

In Durham, shopping malls have free magazines and newspapers for you to take at your leisure.  I pick one up with all you need to know about gay rights, gay health and gay life style, gay business, gay clubs and information on gay political representatives and activists. I did not know what the magazine was all about; I read it in full view of passerby. No one bothered.

In Kenya, I would be lynched for publicly reading such media, the newspaper burned, the shopping mall closed, my face would be plastered on the evening news flanked by smiling policemen.

In Kenya it is not allowed to be different, you must be a carbon copy of each other, that’s what society dictates. I like America, it protects diversity.

It is voting time for America’s officials and on the media politicians rant, verbally abuse their counterparts, promote their good deeds and agenda.  They curse or praise the president’s policies. They allowed to do so in the name of freedom of expression.

America voting

In Kenya you cannot do that, expression has a limit, you can go to jail or sued for your life earnings for publicly voicing negative opinion about someone with political importance. 

Voting is in Durham public school’s cafeteria.  The place is spacious with chairs and tables. My parents go in a short line, their names is checked on a list against identification and they are given a form which is scanned and a ballpoint.  They sit at a table, make their choices, people with questions are politely and patiently provided with information. In a private booth they cast their ballots on a computerized plate , and drop the ballot form in a box by the exit.  This evening they will sit in front of the TV for the results.

Kenya voting

Democracy in Kenya is different; they form a line of tightly clustered people, armed uniformed men hover around baton in hand showing authority. The authority can make you bleed and it hurts.

The ballot papers are late and the citizenry may have to wait hours in line.  The counting is slow and the results can take days to come.

During the last presidential elections over 1200 people died in riots .  That’s when citizens found out that politicians stuffed ballot boxes or doctored results in their favor. Yes, the culprits are the same politicians in power now.

I like America, I like Durham… Mwah, mwah!

Patrick-Bernard

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