Common misconceptions and clichés about life in Kenya

Hello everyone,

Old clichés die hard, as the saying goes... and living in Kenya can generate lots of misconceptions in the eyes of the people.

What are the most common misconceptions about the expat lifestyle in Kenya?

What are the most common clichés about life in Kenya in general?

Did you have a biased view of the country before moving there? What is you view now?

Thanks in advance,


Good morning.

Kenya is a beautiful country. so are its people. To be honest the only thing that might be abrrier for me is that they think i can talk swahili. but besides that they have accepted me and my english. Most of the people i have interacted with were like why would i want to move to Kenya when South Africa is such a great country. They want to move to the south and keep asking for my help to do so.

Although when you go out of Nairobi to the game parks and lodges i could not believe that they charge you extra if you are a foreigner or tourist to enter or accomodation. I found that rather strange.

When I first moved to Mombasa 6 years ago I had no preconceived expectashions . It talk me some time to settle in  however my view now is of a genuine warm welcome from all I have met. The oppion of my family and friends in the UK is that it is a very dangerous place to be and not safe to venture out day or night !!! .
Mostly thanks to the good old BBC.
I hope with time this changes , those whom have visited go home with glowing compliments. At the moment I am away from Mombasa following a heart attack but hope to return Homs ASAP

My regards

Kerry Yeomans.

Many people back home think I might be in a mud hut or at the other extreme, having maids and only hanging out with white people and rich posh Kenyans.  They think I could be kidnapped by Al-Shebab any minute and when I was pregnant, people panicked about mortality rates even though with a little money health care is good.  Locals think I must own 5 houses back in USA (when I am Australian)

People think Kenya is dangerous.  Of course, there are so many destitute people you have to watch getting stuff stolen but even thieves mostly don't want to harm you - and usually do without your immediate notice.  Also people assume that women are treated badly - Kenyan men are quite digital these days and women are making great strides economically.  There are some very interesting gender relation changes happening right now.  I found the men quite respectful and sleazy ones would never ever touch me.

I thought I would be able to help people through education. I have sponsored and been involved in some kids lives as an almost aunt figure and the culture is different and I think - a lot of girls would rather a man take care of them than improve themselves. They just want to be hot and some leave school because some guy calls them mrembo and/or buys them something small.  Of course not all, and less so in middle class women.   I also thought everyone would be fit and into running or sports.  There are loads of overweight people in Nairobi, even kids.

- Africa is a country  :sosad:
- No good healthcare available in Kenya  :sick
- Nairobi is very very dangerous  :mad:
- Everybody is hungry and poor  :par:

The reality is simple, Kenya is a great place to be. Yes there are definitely area's one should not go. But back in Amsterdam there are also places one should not go.
East African people are generally nice and friendly and always willing to help out.
Healthcare is excellent and supermarkets are packed with whatever one wants and needs.

Africa is GREAT, Kenya is AMAZING!!

The most common misconception about westerners (and this includes tourists) is that we are all from the USA and all extremely rich.  This results in overcharging for many goods and services.

For many planning to come to Kenya, the view appears to be (as others have mentioned) that Kenya is one of the most dangerous countries on the planet and full of terrorists and criminals.  People also don't expect Kenya to be developed as it is  - all thanks to western media, which seem to revel in discrediting the country at every turn - we have had visitors asking whether there are any tall buildings in Nairobi, for example!

My wife is Kenyan, so I had a fair idea what to expect before I came.  The main thing I found was how welcoming Kenyans are, particularly when they find out that my wife is Kenyan - unlike the UK where 'comments' are often made about mixed race marriages.  I don't live amongst expats and rarely see them, but don't feel at all isolated.

"a lot of girls would rather a man take care of them than improve themselves. They just want to be hot and some leave school because some guy calls them mrembo and/or buys them something small."

Ozchick:  historically, girls would be pulled out of school to get married, whether they wanted it or not and this culture persists.  Despite constitutional changes, Kenya is still a patriarchal society where boys have greater significance than girls.  Things are slowly changing, particularly in Nairobi.

You touch on the treatment of women; married Kenyan men very typically will have a mistress or two, which the wife will know all about, but is powerless to do anything about.........

Hi Priscila

I am staying in Kenya past 14 years, I never heard or had experience about cliches or misconception, so far according to me,Kenya has best weather and people as well

I haven't actually moved over just yet and still in the USA. My husband is from Kenya so I look forward to joining him next year. I know there will be great differences between the two countries and I will have to adjust to a new culture but I think I will be alright. Living in a place and visiting are very different but I hope this one will be one that I fall in love with.

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