Originally published in the Sept 2012 issue of Destination Magazine
Interracial relationships are becoming more and more common in Kenya, but what’s changed to make them more accepted? Caitlin Nordahl looks at life for people in mixed couples – the hard, the impossible and the love that makes it all worth it
It’s every black man’s dream to [have sex with] a white gal
It’s the dreadlocks. Ask any [guy] with dreadlocks the kind of attention they got from [white] mamaz. Also, some mamas just LOVE the African/Jamaican accents
- To the average white boy, a black woman is just an “experiment”..
- They can do all kinds of crap to a black woman that they can’t with white…
Ultimately, the relationship is one of EXPLOITER and EXPLOITED
Personality, beliefs, interests, all these factors are just as important in an IR relationship as any other
What about love? Maybe some mixed race couples just love each other?
Make it work if your heart is up to it. Most of all…BE HAPPY!!!
Taken from Mashada, a popular Kenyan online forum, these quotes offer a glimpse into the collective views on interracial relationships. Whether decrying the motives of those involved, fully supporting it, wondering why it’s an issue anymore or hundreds of variations falling somewhere in between, everyone has an opinion.
Interracial relationships never work. Black women are gold-diggers, fawning over white men for their money. White men just want black women for the novelty of it and to fulfil sexual fantasies. Similarly, black men like white women because they’re more adventurous in bed, and will do things black women won’t. White women are just looking to experience the endowments all black men are rumoured to have. But black men are all dogs, who treat their women horribly. White men, on the other hand, are sweet and affectionate lovers.
The stereotypes Kenyans hold about what happens when races mix are never-ending and often contradictory. But it basically boils down to sex and money. That’s what these relationships are all about, or that’s what you’d think looking in on Mashada or listening in on conversations. But things change when you ask Kenyans as individuals.
Destination put out a survey asking Kenyans about interracial relationships and the results were surprising. When asked to complete the sentence “Interracial Relationships are…” only two respondents had something negative to say – one said they were complicated, and the other that they were weird. Other than that, the responses were overwhelmingly positive with a sprinkling of ambivalence. Surprisingly, however, when asked how Kenyan culture saw the relationships, respondents were much more reserved. While answers weren’t always negative they were almost all wary. When asked what problems interracial couples would have to deal with, ‘Approval of Society’ ranked second, only under ‘Approval of Families.’ While quite a few people said interracial couples were normal, when ranking problems ‘Standard Relationship Issues’ came in a distant last.
Clearly there is some contradiction here. When talking from a personal level, about people they know and possibly themselves (97.8 percent of respondents knew at least one mixed couple, and 65 percent had been or were in an interracial relationship), Kenyans don’t give stereotype a second thought. Of course those things happen, and the fact is those assumptions started somewhere. But people know enough to realise it’s not always, or even usually, about sex and money. However, as things get more generalised, stereotypes gain more credence. It’s as if the social assumptions surrounding interracial relationships are so strongly ingrained in Kenyan culture that everyone looks at their personal experience as an exception rather than the rule.
“Race or Culture” continued on next page…