Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Why the dukawallah is smarter than you - by Ted Malanda


Superb article sent through to me this morning that was published in the Standard the other day, and i couldn't have all you good people to miss out on so i have had reposted it here.
I'm not sure if that's the politically correct thing to do reposting others commentary but it is excellent - and as a matter of fact - probably a very un PC article in itself!
Here's the link, and below is the article ..

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In the unlikely event that the British decided to rebuild the Kenya-Uganda railway, rest assured that the man-eaters of Tsavo, if they still exist, would not be carting away Indian coolies into the boondocks for snacks and dinner.

There would be no Indian coolies in the first place. Instead, the whole railway line would be bustling with youthful — and not so youthful — indigenous Kenyans under the Kazi kwa Vijana initiative.

Yet just over 100 years ago, the locals wouldn’t be caught dead doing such ‘menial’ work, to the extent that the railway line’s entire labour force had to be shipped in from India.

But if it was massive muscle drain for India, then, rounding up the descendants of those coolies today and throwing them out Idi Amin style would result in brain drain so severe that the national economy would be clobbered to its knees. How did they manage this transformation from sweaty labourers to captains of industry when locals are still doing what they were doing then — hunting squirrels, pretending to raise maize on barren land and engaging in tribal warfare every five years?

Strength to strength

Equally, the Brits who were lording it over everyone have virtually scattered. Grogan is gone; Egerton’s castle is in ruins while Lord Delamere now hawks mandazi and milk on the roadside in Naivasha.

But the Kenyan Indian just seems to grow from strength to strength.

I could hazard two reasons for this: One, the Indian doesn’t give a hoot about land. All he needs is a roof over his head and a place to sell his wares.

Wazungu, on the other hand, will lease thousands of hectares of desert land and then pretend to make money out of it from tourists.

How the hell do you do that when crooks are turning all the trees upstream into charcoal?

Africans, on the other hand, will steal and kill each other for land. But after that, they do absolutely nothing with it apart from walking around admiring farm boundaries and selecting burial spots.

The second reason is that the average Indian is more tenacious than a donkey. Note: A millionaire dukawallah will own the same pair of shoes for years unlike a local man who changes wives with his first bank loan.

It’s not easy minting money from a duka, either, as the many locals who sink their retirement benefits into roadside shops can testify. But I admire Indians most for their marriage customs. They are just brilliant, these Indian men.

How did they connive to have women pay them dowry and still manage to sit on them?

Aging mothers

In fact, as soon as they have eaten the dowry that the bride brought, they install her in the family home so that she can take care of their aging mothers as well. Would you believe it!

And to seal the deal, they cover those women from head to toe making it virtually impossible for wife snatchers to salivate. Have you ever seen an Indian woman’s underwear?

Now contrast that with African women who seem hell bent on baring it all to the nearest passerby.

My ancestors thought they were smart yet all they cared about were useless gizzard rights. Why couldn’t they think up a scam like this? Here we pay dowry through the nose yet if one’s mother visits for two weeks, the wife issues an ultimatum: "Either that old hag goes or I’m out."

Life is, indeed, a circus!

7 comments:

Kelvin said...

Really fab article! I liked how the writer talked of the resilience of Indians - they came as hard laborers but are among the wealthiest today. We have a lot to learn there

joyunspeakable said...

yeah...very true. come to think of it. what is valuable? land? material wares? or what?

Anonymous said...

huyu jamaa ni funny sana

Mzungu Chick said...

@kelvin - probably true
@joyunspeakable - for us definitely land, the fellow is so right
@anon - excellent writer this guy i agree

Anonymous said...

Interesting indeed but he refers to " Indians" as a homogenous group of " coolies" well I regret to advise that the " Indians" who came to build the railway may have been coolies. However, the Indians who came with Alidina Visram like my grandfather's family were very successful business men in India. The other Indians were highly educated and worked in the British Raj administration. Their children all became professionals, doctors, lawyers, engineers etc etc who have then moved to the West because they did not like the " African approach" to life I guess and the dollars beckoned !!!! I like what he says but its without any substance and good for a laugh. However, when he talks about Indian customs yes they were there at the turn of the century in East Africa but no more. Still exist in rural India I would think we read about it all the time

Mista said...

Nice funny article indeed, however, I have to agree with Anon above. I'm sure the indians in kenya are not one homogenous group.
I'm also wondering why the Brits saw it necessary to bring indians to build the railway line while there was a huge labor pool in kenya. Or was it that the indians had experienc ebuilding railways ?
anyway, I think the indians in kenya are an example of immigrant communities worldwide. Most immigrant communities tend to see opportunity where the locals don't see it or see it as Miss-Opportunity. I've lived the U.S. for a few years and I see how successful alot of imigrant groups are, including my fellow kenyans.
I think that's the same thing that happened to indians in kenya.
However, there's a group of indians in kenya who are migrants from india, and they come to work in kenya, I understand they are the most despised by both black kenyans and indian kenyans. They speak no swahili, and are indeed very racist...I think they ruin for the majority of kenyan born indians.

Anonymous said...

stumbled upon your article while researching on Kenyan- Indians (is there even such a term???)
glad i did because i think you are so right! i'm now a big fan