Although my Internet connectivity may be lacking, the prevalence of cell phones and the many services they provide – from transferring money, checking facebook, paying your restaurant bill, makes life much simpler than it would otherwise be in rural Kenya. Kenyans LOVE their phones. Corporal, Nyumbani’s head police officer, is always in the know since he’s constantly tuned into his youtube, twitter and facebook accounts on his phone. If I need to know what’s going on in Kenya, Africa, or America for that matter, I simply have an afternoon chat with Corporal.
Since Kenyans are so addicted to their phones, telecommunication companies offer lots of features to personalize your phone, for example, the ring back, probably the most common personal touch on phones in Kenya. This can be a song or verse that someone hears while they wait for you to pick up the call. While waiting for someone to pick up their phone I’ve most often heard gospel songs, bible verses, African pop and traditional music; once I even heard the story of creation from a very God-like sounding male voice.
My all time favorite ring back though goes out to Sr. Reena, the head financial officer for Nyumbani. Every time I think of it I have to laugh so I thought I would share it with you. Sr. Reena is one serious nun; in her full habit and gown in the African sun you’d be hard-pressed to find a smile cross her face and trust me, I’ve tried all manner of jokes to get her to laugh genuinely but I’ve mostly gotten a small patronizing smile that lasts less than a second. She’s super serious about her job too…no shilling goes unaccounted for and you better get the cheapest price for anything in Kenya (or Africa? Or the world?) otherwise she won’t approve you buying it.
Usually I call Sr. Reena to reason with her because she’s blocked me from spending any money to buy more supplies for the rainwater harvesting project; some how she always thinks the rainwater account is empty or that we’ve spent enough. I won’t go into this further since that’s a whole other story. Let’s just say when I call Sr. Reena I’m not usually in the best of moods. So I have to admit that when I dialed her number, I was taken off guard when the ring-back I heard to make my wait more enjoyable was not a gospel song or Bible verse but it was Drake crooning that “you the best I ever had, best I ever had” :S In total shock and amusement it was the first time I listened so closely to the words, all the time thinking…hmm I wonder what Sr. Reena is trying to say here? Is she a Drake fan? Is there some one out there who’s “the best she’s ever had”?? :O As I was getting lost in the song I was rudely (okay, not rudely, but I was having a good time!) interrupted by Sr Reena’s thick Indian accent greeting me. Unable to prevent myself from laughing and having forgotten what I called for in the first place, I keep my words short and promised to call again later since there was no way for me to be serious at that point in time.
Maybe the phone company was using her phone to promote the ring-back feature (okay, I’m pretty sure this is reason I heard Drake) but I’d like to enjoy the idea of the alternative… Sr. Reena is a hard-core Drake fan and decided to express her love for him in her ring back feature on her phone. Moments like these make working with hardcore Catholic nuns a bit easier…just a bit.