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Bumology 101 in Kenya Africa

2009-04-24 22:15:55

Bumology 101 in Kenya Africa
How to be a Bum in Kenya, Africa?

Bumology 101: How to be a Bum?

I believe this young boy aspires to be a Bum; I have met enough Bums in my life to know this boy has what it takes to become a professional Bum.

Siaya, Kenya
East Africa
Saturday, April 25, 2009

Siaya is the closest city to Kogelo, the Homestead of Barack Obama.

I sat down on a park bench in Siaya, Kenya the other day with the goal of watching the world pass by. The people of Siaya, Kenya do not see many white people; I am the tourist, however truly the people of Siaya are the ones who take the tour. They would go out of their way to make sure they took the walking tour in front of my park bench. This makes the art form of people watching easy, there is less strategy needed.

As I was sitting on the bench, this small boy came and started mumbling words to me. At first, I considered him a normal street urchin who saw me as the mark, a person to give him money.

Hmm, I would estimate that 80 percent of people I meet in Kenya ask me for money or help, I assume if a person comes up and wishes to talk, they will soon start to pitch me on something they want something for nothing.

1. Starting a church
2. Relative that is sick.
3. Need a job, but really they want a handout.
4. Working on a project.
5. Buy me a soda or beer.

Why was this boy special?

Beggars can be different from bums, in a way 80 percent of the Kenya people come up and Beg something from me in a roundabout way from wanting a Visa to the USA to the honest one who just wants money.

When a person drops below the level of just a normal greedy person who believes someone rich need to give them money they can start to become ostracized and confused. This boy was confused, his bag is full of plastic bottles he is collecting, and he has no shoes and is wearing what looks like pajama bottoms.

No Shoes

This is the first indication of true bum.

No Fashion

There is a loss of the ability to be fashionable or fit in to normal society.

There was a man and women from the USA I met in Isiolo, Kenya who told me that was making a documentary about street children. They introduced me to a boy they labeled a street child, I was laughing at their naïve understanding of street children. The boy had on shoes, spoke English and was wearing a Bob Marley Ethiopia colored hat, the kid was using them, making some good cash. He was easy to interview, showed well on camera and was available in the afternoon. I thought about advising them,
“If you truly want to find street children, you have to be here when the sun rises and discover who is truly living in the streets.”

I knew they truly did not care; it was more about the image than reality, so I let it go…

This young boy kept mumbling or trying to say something to me, another man next to me who spoke the local languages tried to speak to him. The man said to me,
“He is confused.”


Humans are sociable beings, they talk with each other and they know how to obey the norms of society. When a person somehow drifts away from other people, when they for some reason stop having normal conversations, when they stop fitting in, they start to become confused, this is when their mind steps into a new dimension. This boy was not able to talk with me; he was not able to even beg in a coherent manner.

Unpredictable and Frightening

At the bottom tier, the person becomes frightening to everyone around him or her, they become unpredictable, they become difficult, nobody can understand or know them, there is no common ground.

I finally tried to bring the boy back to reality, I pointed at his feet and with the help of the local man, I tried to say.
“Here is some money, go buy some shoes.”

The kid was over the edge, he had lost the plot, I could not reach him, and all I could do was give him a few coins for his survival hoping he would revive.

This is the older version of the boy, ripped clothing and farther down the line a subgroup of one.

The boy had a small bag of bottles; this man has a large bag of something he is collecting. I was still able to get close to the small boy, however I needed to use the zoom lens to capture this photo, this man who walks around in the city of Siaya, he was no longer approachable.

I guess this is the final lesson in Bumology 101, when a person walks away from civilization and does not know how to return.

Bumology 101, asking for help, asking for money, making another person your donor is a great way to start down this path, to give nothing, but to expect something, this is Bumology 101.

Bumology 101 in Kenya Africa