Househelps Paradise : Anatomy of the Kenyan Househelp

By the time your kids have grown, you are bound to meet with all or some of these types of Kenyan house-helps. This list is not exhaustive. Feel free to add your own..

The shagsmundu – She has never seen a sink and doesn’t know how to flush a toilet. Her Swahili vocabulary is down to 10 words but you hope she’ll learn. She will marvel at the TV and you will have to make a decision. Either disconnect it at the mains or leave it at her disposal and hope that she will get used to it and not spend the whole day watching anything at the expense of doing her duties. After sometime, she will learn Swahili and become more sociable. Her dressing will change. She might even join a Househelps chama. However,she might be swindled of her money sooner or later by the shrewd ones.Then she’ll ‘chanuka’. Several months down the line she will ask you to buy her a phone (with her savings),and that will be the beginning of the end…

The town-girl – She knows the job because she has worked a dozen other places ‘in Nairobi’. Don’t ask why she has so many ex-employers. She has a very questionable past. She has overdone make-up and is very sociable. She speaks sheng. You will have to remind her that you are not interested in your children knowing sheng.

The Seducer– She’s after your husband and doesn’t see you as a threat. Not a big one anyway. She will dress in skirts with long slits, or clingy jeans and tumbo cuts and try to get his attention. That is until when you sit her down and tell her to dress properly. She will then try her skills elsewhere after noting that you are watching her…

The ‘mother’ – She’s not perfect but you will overlook her weaknesses because she treats your kids like her own. Your kids will love her and will go to cry on her shoulder when you spank them. You’ll be WOWed and wonder what you’do without her. That’s until she elopes with the neighbour’s shamba boy and leaves you confused. You thought she had more sense than that!

The elite – This one just completed form 4. She is waiting to go to College and so, she didn’t want to stay idle.You are impressed! She’s very clean and organized. She knows English. She even reads the news paper. However, she is not very patient with the kids. You often remind her to be more gentle with them. She has a phone and uses it regularly and might even ask for an advance to buy airtime.

Eventually you will be put off by her pride because she will tell you things like she is not used to taking care of MANY (read three) children, or that she suffers severe cramps and is therefore completely unable to work when she is having her period.

The Minor – This one is underage. Everyone can see. The only reason you are having her is that you are REALLY DESPERATE. Your former girl has left and you can’t get leave at work, so this one is like a ‘stepping stone’ until you get another mboch. She is a primary school drop-out and does odd jobs back at the village. You hope that you can be able to help her go back to school once this crisis you are having is over, in a week or two.
She was really excited when she was told of the opportunity. She has never travelled to the city. When she comes she just marvels at everything and talks a lot about the journey. Basic training is very important as she is a shagsmundu. She knows a few Swahili words and you figure that is not a problem. All you want is just not to leave your toddlers in the house alone! You will be forced to do or re-do most of the work in the evening because she can only do so much. After a few days , her excitement will die down and she’ll just break down one morning and tell you that she misses home. Never mind that she had been telling you only yesterday, how she hates carrying firewood and fetching water down the river, back at home. So you will comfort her and promise her to put her in the first bus, come Saturday. Then you will pray that by then, you’ll have found a ‘proper’ replacement .

The nanny – She’s only a little younger than your mum. Once married, she’s now separated or widowed. She even has kids of her own, who are in school upcountry. She is motivated coz she needs to find them school fees. Being a mother herself, she goes out of her way to make sure your kids are comfortable. She’s humble, respectful, and very efficient.She even cooks well. In short, she literally runs your house! If you say your prayers right, you might stay with this one for a DECADE, or even two!

The Day-Scholar
– She comes to work during the day and leaves by evening. She’s almost the same age as The Nanny. She’s good. The only problem is while you are toiling at the office, she’s shipping some of your shopping to a safe hide-out so she can go with them at home in the evening. You’ll wonder how your Unga seems to have drastically reduced. Then you will suspect her and after investigations, confirm your fears. You will then confront her and she will confess how she did it coz of the many problems she’s having at home. You will then swear not to have a day-scholar again…until a crisis comes again.

20 comments for “Househelps Paradise : Anatomy of the Kenyan Househelp

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *