You have a blue Omo or Harpic t-shirt, but you use Ariel or Sunlight washing powder, and Vim for your toilet. You have no idea how those t-shirts came to your possession but it’s okay, they are handy when you want to do your house chores or run a quick errand. Or that white Safaricom t-shirt with green sleeves that you wear with your khaki cargo shorts and sandals on weekends. You don’t work at Safaricom. No one in your family does, or ever has. None of your friends work there either. In fact, they use Airtel. You’ve never won a gift hamper from Safaricom, neither have you ever participated in any promotional games. But you have their t-shirt. And you really, really like that t-shirt.
Or that pen from Standard Chartered bank. No one you know banks or works there. You are not even sure whether you have a Standard Chartered bank in your town. You’ve never seen it. In fact, when you saw the Standard Chartered logo on that pen, you thought that it was a company that manufactures barbed wire. And the last time you entered a bank was that time when it started raining and you had to seek shelter, so you dashed into the nearest door; a bank. But you have a branded pen from Standard Chartered. And you really, really like that pen.
Or that nice towel from a high-end, seven-star resort located in the Caribbean. How a towel from Trinidad and Tobago found its way to your house, you do not know. You have never gone anywhere beyond the borders of your country. Not even your town. You don’t even have a passport. No one in your family does. Even that one uncle who, during family gatherings, keeps retelling uninterested members of the family about the time he was abroad for his tertiary education. He was abroad. He never mentions a specific country. Just abroad. And when he has had too much to drink, he’ll talk about how he, rebellious, quit school when he was in standard six, stole and sold some of his father’s coffee berries, then squandered all the money from the sale with some girl who left him for someone else. Your friends have never been to that part of the world either. Yet, you have this nice towel that belongs to a resort whose name you cannot pronounce, from a place you do not know. And you really, really like that towel.
Or that DSTv cap. DSTv is a myth in your house. A passing rumour. You don’t even know what it is, although it sounds like some deadly virus, because you once heard someone say, “I have DSTv”. But you have a DSTv cap and you really, really like that cap.
We have a talent for having things we would not ordinarily have. You will always find at least one branded item in a Kenyan home. And the memory surrounding the acquisition of said item(s) is usually foggy. No matter how horribly I get tortured, I still won’t be able to explain how I got a bed sheet that has the name and contacts of a lodging in Wajir on my bed. And I’ve never been to Wajir, but I really, really like that bed sheet.
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