E-group is the name my church in Nairobi uses for small groups. It comes from the Greek word ekklesia and that means something related to church or sent out from the church or something profound like that.
I’m the only non Kenyan in my group which is part of why I love it so much. Technically, I love the people in my e-group more than the group itself, but our group dynamics are pretty good. There are roughly 12 of us and of course with busy urban lives there are always some people missing. I would like it if people made it a bigger priority, but I try to keep in mind how cultures are different and so it’s slightly easier to excuse frequent absences especially of those who don’t have a car to get to and from this evening group.
We break for about a month over the holidays because in Kenya everyone takes time off. Most people travel somewhere, if not to their grandparents in a rural area then to a hotel at the coast so their kids can play in the water. (I’m talking about urban middle class Kenyans.) So tonight, our first night back, I hosted a ‘social’ night.
I dashed home after work to pull together some typical Kenyan snacks. We had peanuts, popcorn, matoke (cooking banana) chips, carrot sticks, British style sausages and I whipped up some scones. Most of them love my coffee which is especially gratifying since Kenyans usually prefer tea.
We ended up sitting around the table full of snacks and chatted about everything from what the local expectation is when relatives come in from upcountry to who plays Cricket or Squash. I’m always enlightened. I could spend every meeting listening to these guys explain Kenyan culture to me. I love hearing stories of Arthur’s high school days, how Ian will raise his son if and when he ever has one and how Monica is raising hers and all the other ladies’ opinions based on how they have raised theirs.
Four of our members are lawyers; in fact they are two couples. So we often get some insight into a political situation or some other aspect regarding the law. This was very helpful last year as we came up to the referendum signing.
Tonight we tried to help Arthur with how to get his 15 year-old son to not wear baggy clothes. (It really irritates Arthur.) We also touched on Nairobi driving habits and how to get your way when driving. Arthur thought that if you opened up the head of a matatu (public minivan transport) driver it would be a pile of worms crawling and wriggling all over themselves because that they way they drive. We all got a good laugh out of that.
I wish you could come visit my e-group. They are simply the best.