Before I start, I wish to make it clear that this is not about which country is better of the two. That would be the least of my interests and it is impossible to establish that anyway since every country has its own unique strengths and weaknesses. This is just a post from a proud Kenyan who is trying to share about his experiences in Germany.
Late last year, Christian came to visit Kenya from East Germany and spent some time at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology where I work. I got to know him as an honest and funny guy who was always ready for a joke. He voiced his opinions freely and from his talk I could already gather a few points about the ‘Kultur‘ of the Germans. One hot afternoon while having a chat in the office, he told me something that I think represents what I will be focusing on in this post.
He was responding to a question I had floated to him about his take on the different lifestyles he had experienced and especially relating to the cost of living. This is what he told me.
“If i make my money in Germany and spend it in Kenya, that’s fantastic. If i make my money in Kenya and spend it in Germany, then it will be tough. If i however make money and spend it ithe same country, then there is no big difference.”
Make of that what you wish but I guess I do not need to be a brain surgeon to understand what he meant. While it is possible to live comfortably irrespective of which country you are in, the cost of living is considerably higher in Germany than it is in Kenya. I am not talking about beer though. On this front, the vice versa applies and you have over 100 different brands of beer with some going for as little as 50 shillings. That is however a story for another day.
There are a lot of differences between the Kenyan and German lifestyles and I am not talking about keeping right on the road or wearing the wedding ring on the right finger. I am talking about the family culture, the technology, the cost of living and other pertinent factors that can be juxtaposed. I will try to tackle some below.
In the past, the setting was a bit similar to that in Kenya whereby the women were mostly housewives and the men provided for the family. A lot has however changed in the recent times. A friend of mine told me that he likes cooking and will therefore cook more often than his wife. He also told me that these days you have more men than women in the German cooking TV shows. It is common to find that the man cooks and washes for his family. It’s really a non issue. You can also live at your girlfriends place until you have enough money to relocate.
In this aspect I would say that Germans are a bit conservative and tend to mind their own business. It takes time for a German to be completely at ease with a stranger but if you get acquainted, they can be fantastic friends. I insist though that this is only my opinion and I could be wrong.
For example in the club, dancing behind her back hoping that she lets you dance with her is a no no. Their dancing also exhibits their conservative nature and songs that can allow dancing that is not so intimate will be more preferred. What I mean is that the dancehalls and riddims that rock Nairobi city are not so popular here.
In contrast though, kissing in public is a common thing.
In this aspect, Germany is streets ahead and I will focus on what I think we can realistically improve on. The transport system has really impressed me. A majority of people in Germany use the trains, trams or buses as their means of in-country travel. A tram will normally pass by your station every 10 minutes without fail or delay unless it is in the night when they get a bit more spaced.
Based on a culture of honesty, it has been possible to implement a ticketing system where you can buy a ticket for an hour, a month, a semester or whichever period of time you choose. There are no conductors and no one will ask you for money. You can even hop into a tram and travel without paying. However, most people choose to pay and you get the feeling that it has more to do with their principles than it is about the fear of the 40€ fine imposed if you are caught without a ticket.
Another huge difference is that labour is generally expensive here. You would be very lucky to have someone doing a task for you at a rate of 5€ per hour. For 8 hours a day, that translates to 40€. Compare that to the possible KSh. 300(approximately 2.5€) per day rate for some jobs in Kenya and you cannot fail to notice the huge disparity. What this means is that any repetitive task that can be mechanised will be mechanised. Right from the ticketing system, the automatic drinks dispensers and automatic card swiping systems, most things have been automated.
I could go on and on but I have to stop here for now.
Till next time.