This is a brief account of some of the obvious differences between Norway and Kenya, as per my observation. The observations are not exhaustive neither are they exclusive; they are simply a part of my perspective…
- Driving: In Kenya, driving is done from the left hand side, while in Norway it is done on the right. This means that pedestrians have to walk on the opposite sides; a reality that confused me time and time again… While driving, the traffic rules are fully obeyed in Norway. This includes when a pedestrian is crossing the road at the white crossings. It is very interesting when one day a driver didn’t stop on time while I was on the white crossing, and I had to stop; and he judiciously apologized for that. In Kenya, well, let’s just say that the traffic rules are rarely obeyed! 🙂
- Food: In Norway, bread is a central and key meal; it is actually what is called food!! It is eaten in the morning, mid-morning and can still be eaten at lunch and even during dinner and supper. In Kenya, bread is a snack; and is mainly eaten in the morning with tea. It is considered a very light component of food, that simply helps in preparing one for the day’s work in anticipation for “food”.
- Water: Norway has the freshest water I have ever taken. The water running in the taps is always fresh and can be consumed at any time of the day. I noted the difference when I was in Denmark for about five days. Furthermore, the water that is found in the mountains is very fresh and undiluted, and is thus taken despite the color… In Kenya, much of the water has to be chlorinated (treated). If not, it has to be boiled to get rid of any micro-organisms that may be present. Not every running tap water in Kenya is safe for consumption.
- The bus: The Norwegian bus works on time schedules. Thus, it doesn’t wait for anyone. If anything, the passenger is expected to wait for the bus. It is very common to see people, old and young, men and women alike, running after the bus. The bus in Norway, especially in the city, only stops at the predetermined bus stops; it cannot stop anywhere else. The bus fares are fixed in Norway; no bargains!!! If it is NOK40, then it is that amount without question. The bus is also very quiet; enhancing the serenity and peace for every one. The Kenyan side of the story is a bit different. The bus (called matatu) “looks” for people; and there is someone who keeps “shouting” to attract the passengers. Thus, the passenger gets to choose depending on their convenience. The matatus also have loud music; which acts as part of attraction means for more passengers. The young people tend to board newer vehicles, due to the nature and loudness of the music being played. The matatus also give room for bargaining especially when the passenger numbers are low; so the person tends to go for the lowest offer. In additon, the matatus can stop possibly anywhere as long as the passenger wants to alight…
- Weddings: In Kenya, weddings are social events; gatherings where everyone is welcome to join in and participate. In Norway, weddings are invites-only events. You only come if you’ve been invited! There is bride-price in Kenya for the bride; but none in Norway! So, it is quite easy to get a wife in Norway than in Kenya, especially if you’re to follow the right route… 😀
- Church services: In Norway, most churches don’t have any kind of “movements” when singing despite the intensity of the music. The much that I have seen, in most gatherings, is the lifting up of hands and seldom kneeling. Thus, most Norwegians worship by standing and with least movements with the other parts of the body. In Kenya, worship is about open expression of one’s inner desire for his God. Thus, this may take the form of jumping, dancing, shouting, kneeling, whistling among many other ways. It is a rigorous exercise such that great body energy is consumed; and most of them say they keep aping David when he danced for the Lord until his robes fell off… In Norway, the sermons are called speeches; and they indeed are given as speeches. One talks continually until they finsih; there are no breathers at all; apart from a few jokes which take the shortest time possible. In Kenya, the sermon is a sermon; the Word ministration. It takes between the neighborhood of 50 minutes and one hour. And the whole congregation will end up having participated with the numerous breathers of “Praise the Lord; Hallelujah…”
- Garbage recycling: Norway is generally a clean country; and this is largely because the environment is everybody’s responsibility. Thus, someone cannot just dump his garbage on the road or street; they have to get it to the garbage bins. The garbage is accordingly sorted in readiness for recycling. Plastics are put aside and so are paper and metallic materials and then others. In Kenya, littering is a comon phenomenon; not many people care that much!! The sense of taking care of the environment seriously lacks. Despite the government efforts to put litter bins all over, it is sad that one cannot walk for over 50 meters without finding a hovering piece of garbage. And recycling is definitely an idea that hasn’t been fully embraced!!
- Currency: Most Norwegians prefer the use of cards (both credit and debit) in their transactions as opposed to the use of “hard cash”. It is so common that even in churches, offering is given via card transactions. This is quite the opposite in Kenya, as it is very common for individuals to use cash and less of cards. In Kenya, the cards are mainly used in the withdrawals; though it is becoming common for some people to transact with them in shopping malls. This is an estranged idea in church givings… As such, most Norwegians have very little liquid cash on them; something that is quite the opposite in Kenya.
- Hiking: It is very common to find Norwegians going to the forests for walks. They love being outdoors; and they do this as a way of getting to know each other and to get off from the busy weekly schedules. And indeed, it is something greatly rewarding. This is largely possible given the large forest cover that Norway enjoys. In Kenya, hiking is not common at all. Inasmuch as Kenyans have some great sceneries, those sites may have been visited more by external tourists and not necessarily by the locals. It is simply not a cultural norm. In additon, the forest cover in Kenya is quite slim and so, not much forest resources are at the disposal of the numerous Kenyan people. It is amazing that in their spirit of hiking, Norwegians jokingly say that they never get lost! Thus, even if they genuinely lose their way; they will simply be exploring new grounds…!!! 🙂
- Electricity: Norway is steadily powered by renewable energy mainly from hydropower. Given its large chunks of water, the hydropower supplies its main power grid. It is thus, not known in Norway if there can be a power blackout or an outage. It is a very strange idea! Most of the technologically-endowed industries are ably sustained given the smooth power supply. In Kenya, the opposite is not far from the truth. There are quite many outages and intermittent power blackouts. Most industries have to have backups just incase there is such a blackout. Given the high electrical power availability in Norway, there are even electrical cars which help in enhancing the green environment, reducing pollution. In Kenya, this is still far-fetched.
- Social system: Norway is an egalitarian society; a society in which all people are equal. No one is more superior than the other; thus, there is nothing that should elevate one person beyond the other. There is respect for everyone as an equal. In Kenya, there are social classes; depending on whether someone is rich or poor; educated or illiterate; religious or irreligious. All these contribute to how people view each other…
The differences above could be courtesy of culture, resource endowment or governance structural variances.