18 Surprising Things About Parenting In Kenya

In deciding where to raise your child, anywhere outside your own country oftentimes leaves you considering the hurdles you are likely to encounter which might include the language hurdle, quality of education that could be earned, culture and even the character that your child will end up with. Keep in mind that your child’s first trip abroad could open his or her eyes to different cultures, music, food and ways of living. Even if he/she understood the language, they might see for the first time that people live differently than you do in your place of origin. As a matter of fact, any trip abroad is going to be a huge change for a small child. So while pondering where to go, you could embrace Kenya. Though it is not all rosy, it has a lot to offer in raising children of the best character. These are 18 things you should keep in mind about parenting in Kenya.

Benefits of Parenting in Kenya

Kenya will Help your Child Develop the Attitude of Cherishing Animals:

Raising your children in Kenya would make your child recognise the full worth of animals They will grow up in the middle of a wonderful environment for cherishing wildlife. At a young age, your child can tell on one hand the physical distinctions between a gazelle and an impala and can spot a giraffe from miles away. You could take your children out in your garden to put out a blend of different seeds for feeding to birds as this will invite birds like bronze manikins, streaky seed-eaters, variable sunbirds, bronze sunbirds, olive thrush, hadada ibis, and firefinches to eat at your feeders. This will help your children to be able to identify dozens of East African birds. This is what we enjoy for parenting in Kenya.

Your Child Will Learn How To address Elders:

Generally, in Africa, it is seriously a bad attitude and disrespectful to address an elder by his or her first name. In Kenya, children are persuaded against calling an elder by his/her first name. Instead of addressing someone Mrs.John or Mr John, you could call him or her by the name of her first-born child. Example “Mama Jackson or Papa Jackson.” It is kind of an awesome way children address adults respectfully without seeming too stiff, conventional or stringent. It, in fact, enables you to often recall other parents’ and children’s names on the playground!. No darling, You would not feel lack of personal identity, I bet you will love it.

You Will Learn To Familiarize Yourself With Any Condition:

By the time you experience power outages, a water shortage and a massive ant infestation in your bedroom, you will learn to adapt to not only the ideas, customs, and social behavior of Kenyans and their environment, but also the rest of other countries you find yourself: Even if you live and work  in a city like Nairobi with very basic conditions in Africa, you are likely to go through some culture shock. The reason is that you are accustomed to well-established infrastructure and services particularly if you are coming from Europe and the likes. But after experiencing the feeling of disorientation because you are subjected to an unfamiliar culture, a way of life, or set of attitudes: you will learn to adapt anywhere you find yourself. It is only when you are parenting in Kenya that you can get all this.

Breastfeeding is Just the Norm:

In Kenya, breastfeeding is accepted. You can even do it in public or everywhere you deem is right for you as it is highly appealing. When you are out and your baby starts to disturb, people whom you haven’t seen in your lifetime can say to you, “Mama, give your baby nyonyo, she is hungry!” (“Nyonyo” is the Swahili word for breastfeeding.)

For families of any Races: it Might Be Difficult to Get the Things that Suit all:

There are numerous mixed-race couples in Kenya, yet many people are shocked to see a Kenyan man married to a white woman. You could be getting double-takes which might seem unappealing but it’s only for them to feed their curiosities. Parents often desire that their children see credible kinds of themselves in their toys, TV programs, books and schoolmates, but it’s not often that it is trouble-free parenting in Kenya. It is almost impossible to buy black baby dolls in Kenya. So when your family is multi-racial and you want to get black baby dolls for your kids,  you will be disappointed as the stores here are stocked full of only blonde-haired, blue-eyed dolls. Also, don’t be surprised when your child’s hair is of a different texture, and curlier, and probably a bigger Afro attracts all the attention and focus of other children who will be engrossed by its distinct look.

Your Children will Get Used to some Superstitions and Sayings:

Some Africans as well as Kenyans somewhat believe in superstitions or enjoy repeating the strange wisdom of Proverbs. In some tribes in Kenya, it is regarded as an ill luck to speak too much about an unborn child, as it can put the baby open to the attacks of bad spirits. Some families even discourage washing of baby clothes and putting it on the clothesline before the baby is born. Also if you hear owl utter a hoot anywhere around your dwelling at night, it is regarded that somebody in your family is about to die.

Your Child Will Know The True Meaning Of The Charms of Safaris:

Kenya has many awesome and unspoilt places where you can journey to. Taking a Safaris, (keep in mind that in Swahili, safari simply means “journey”) around Kenya is one of the amazing things you could always do here. You could go camping at Lake Elementaita in the Great Rift Valley with children. You can take a walk around its perimeter for a picnic lunch. In fact, there are cool and magical places you could journey to around Kenya with your family. So it’s not all bad if you are parenting in Kenya.

Your Children Might Learn How To Play All By Themselves:

Some parents arrange play dates for their kids, this is common in some developed countries. In Kenya, Children are allowed to roam about the neighbourhood on their own and play freely without any adult supervision especially in remote areas. You will see groups of children roaming around together and having a ball. The most famous sport mostly played by boys in Kenya is soccer. Some children who come from the poorest villages make ingenious homemade soccer balls out of plastic bags, rubber bands, and twine when they can’t afford a ball. Or they will make themselves elaborate toy cars out of scrap wire and bottle caps

You Will Learn The True Meaning of Corruption:

It is not out of the ordinary to experience demands for someone’s hands to be greased in the regular course of life elsewhere. Yes, corruption is not peculiar to Kenya but how frequently it is done might shock you. For example, you might park unexpectedly wrong and a city servant responsible for collecting parking fees seizes your car and says he will put a boot on your tire if you didn’t pay him a bribe! And more surprisingly when you decide to pay legitimate fines at the appropriate offices or courthouse because you had broken a law, the public officer who claims he is working for orderliness would be mad at you and will suggest you pay directly to him or her since the court-administered fine would be exponentially higher than the small “cup of tea” he was asking for. But in all, you could avert this by not contributing to an inherently corrupt system.

You Might Need To Be Heading To The Best Hospital During Childbirth:

During childbirth, unless you are travelling outside Kenya to have your child, you will be needing a good doctor to deliver your baby. This is because the maternal mortality rate is far above little in Kenya.  According to the World Health Organization, for every 100,000 live births in Kenya, 400 women die from complications thanks to lack of access to decent prenatal care, good hospitals and obstetrics services. While that pushes further down in other developed countries such as America which is only 28.

You Could Pick a Baby Name According to Kenyan Culture:

Whether or not you are married to a Kenyan, you could choose to name your children according to the tradition prevailing in the part of Kenya you reside.There’s a stunning naming culture in Kenya, especially in the Kikuyu tribe, where the first-born daughter is named after her paternal grandmother while the second-born daughter would traditionally be named after her maternal grandmother. You could adopt this tradition for your Kid’s middle names. Translate the name to Kenyan Language to spice them up. If you wish to have more than two children, you can also choose a name in English and then translate to Kenya.

Different Baby Wearing


In Kenya, baby wearing is very distinct and passes from generations upon generations. You’ll see women carrying their babies in a leso or kanga, traditional African cloths with Swahili proverbs written on them. It is normal for Kenyan women to wear their babies on their backs, it is a special handy tool especially for mothers parenting in Kenya who have so many tasks to handle all at once.

Your Kids Will Get To Bath Next To Nature

In Kenya, your child can have a good bath right outside where nature and landscapes beckon. Your Children could enjoy a bush bath with a plastic basin, and a nice soak treat overlooking a river, or the savannah, or the Great Rift Valley. And sometimes let them have a splash around, covered by nature and spectacular landscapes.

On pregnancy:

Pregnant women and new mothers are treated like goddesses in Kenya. You never have to stand in line, you never have to wait for a seat and you never have to carry anything. Perfect strangers will always offer to help you!

Also, all the women in my mother-in-law’s village fussed over me as a new mother. Everyone made sure I was drinking enough liquids and offered me njahi (black-eyed peas) and uji (fermented porridge) around the clock. These foods are believed to boost milk production, I felt very pampered.

It Takes a Village To Raise a Child

The popular African saying “it takes a village to raise a child” is taken very seriously in Kenya. It really takes a village to raise a child in Kenya as one person’s child is seen as everyone’s children and everyone’s responsibility. Children refer to everybody they meet as “auntie” or “uncle,” whether or not they are actually related. Community in Kenya takes many forms. It is not just relatives and friends but anyone who interacts with a child has a responsibility to them. What this practically means is that in public spaces if someone sees a child doing something wrong or getting into danger they will step in without having to ask the permission of the parent. This is rare if you are not parenting in Kenya or probably any part of Africa.

Your Child Will Learn Good Eating Manners:

In Kenya, it is generally right to shake hands or eat with your right hand. Traditionally you are not supposed to make use of utensils when eating. This is because you’re supposed to use your left hand in the toilet, and many traditional Kenyan toilets don’t have toilet paper, but instead a bucket of water for washing.

About Gender Differences:

As might be expected, Kenyans don’t often treat boys and girls, differently. For example, girls don’t climb and the rest of that. Even Obama preached about boys and girls to be treated equally, so we hope it will be effective while you are parenting in Kenya.

Your Child Will be Disciplined:

There’s an interesting oddity about parenting in Kenya. Children raised in Kenya are respectful, obedient and well-behaved than children elsewhere especially ones raised in America. While parents feel exhausting trying to contain their children and to no real effect, you would never see a Kenyan child throw a tantrum. Probably because Kenyan children hardly hear the word “No” from parents or caregivers, so they have nothing to flare up about. You’ll see parents offering young children exactly what they want in order to keep the peace — a soda, candy, a toy, a snack, dessert before dinner, TV until long after bedtime… you name it. Or maybe because they hit their kids that’s why they raise less defiant and more polite children.

Source: cupofjo

Fadamana U
Fadamana U
Fadamana has built up professional writing and editing experience over the years in report and technical articles, informational and creative content across various topic specialties. Outside work, I like to binge on new movies.


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