Celebrating East African Writing!
If ever you had doubts about the absurdity that is the Kenyan society, doubt no more. Sunny Bindra will murder them in wholesale and confirm to you beyond reasonable doubt that we are a peculiar lot. He even evidences our faddishness by explaining, for free, the top three peculiarities that we share as a nation and six more peculiarities that are unique to MPs, rich folk, religious crowds, drivers et.al.
The Peculiar Kenyan by Sunny Bindra is a collection of selected articles from his Sunday Nation column ‘A Sunny Day’. It contains articles written between the years 2003 and 2009. This book/ collection touches on the absurd behaviour of politicians, business persons, media personalities and ordinary Kenyans in their day to day activities and reactions to life.
Bindra captures our copy and paste culture and the disturbing complacency with wrong and sometimes life threatening decisions made by business persons and politicians. Not forgetting our willingness to lapse into selective amnesia when it comes to that lot of people.
The author is remarkably on point. This Attributed to the fact that he is Kenyan too and, yes, peculiar. Also, he has been chronicling Kenyan peculiarities since 2003. His observations and the help of his ‘reliable crystal ball made from Kitengela glass brought him to the realization that being a prophet in Kenya is easy, because nothing ever changes. This is true, because most of his articles though written in previous years, read like articles that may as well have been written yesterday.
The author compiled five chapters of satire and humour that include four quizzes that tell the reader, ‘How Kenyan You Are’. I indulged and partook of all four and my results shocked the public enemy out of me. I cannot tell my marks because they are shaming but also because Bindra writes that telling the marks is a sign and symptom of our national preoccupation with examinations. We are more concerned with our scores than we are with the meaning of the questions.
The book also features interviews with a character, Dr. Abunwasi bin Uwongo, a government spin doctor who has a Doctorate in the Comparative History of Fantasy and Fables from the London School of Truth Economics. Hilarious, yes, but when you ponder on it, the political world is rife of Doctors Abunwasi. The interviews give the reader an honest representation of what our leaders sell to us and how we buy it like it was a rare public relations pearl.
There is also a very interesting job description for potential Members of Parliament. A necessary read for aspirants to a seat in the August House. Those intending to leave the country and be Diaspora sputter, need to read the book to be acquainted with the TKK (Tumetoroka Kenya Kabisa) Body.
By and large, the articles are satirical and humorous. Chapters three and five are particularly enjoyable to the eye and mind. If a reader does not emit involuntary rollicking at least ten times after reading this collection, he or she should volunteer for a minor mental check up. Roseanne Barr, an American comedian insists that the only way to have good mental health is to laugh at oneself, nice and loud, as often as possible. Bindra describes the peculiar Kenyan to a tee, so a peculiar Kenyan reader has to laugh or go bonkers.
Well, not every man made product is perfect. One article, ‘Time to Stop Singing Malaika’, written in the June of 2008, bored me blue. It is a bland almost mediocre outlook on the tourism industry. Any ordinary columnist could have written that. Fortunately, the peculiar Bindra placed it, strategically, I believe, at the end of the book. Otherwise it would have thrown a spanner into the works.
The foreword by former Safaricom CEO, Michael Joseph, was wrong space filler in my opinion. The last paragraph almost made me put the book down but for my faith in Bindra:
“We are peculiar people but we are also loveable and hardworking diligent and hospitable. But please don’t ALL call at 8 o’ clock every night including Saturdays and Sundays.”
Last I checked, MJ, wasn’t Kenyan so the peculiar ‘we’ rubs me the wrong way, once again. The 8 o’clock calling sentence is absurd. He should not have been worried about when we call, as long as he gets the almighty dollar. And he calls us peculiar?
Every literate Kenyan should buy and read this book, preferably before the peculiarly placed 2013 elections. We are peculiar people but as the author writes,
“All societies have their idiosyncrasies, good and bad. The point is to know what they are, laugh about the harmless ones and do something about the ones that hold us back.”
Review by @IvoryPunk
Sunny Bindra is a columnist with the Sunday Nation. His column, A Sunny Day has been on the paper for nearly seven years. He is also a management consultant and a teacher and runs a website www.sunwords.com .
Aside from the Peculiar Kenyan, Bindra has also authored a ‘Best Seller’ titled Crown Your Customer published by Storymoja.