One time I was on Mombasa road and I spotted a hawker selling a toy army truck. It was so well made. It had army fatigues on the outside, big wheels and it looked too hard to be break (although children are very good at finding ways of breaking things- Kendi broke off a part of her piano). When I stopped in traffic,I asked the vendor how much the truck was. He told me the price and I quickly realized that I didn’t have nearly enough on me. I said,’wa! pesa haitoshi, I hope nitarudi kuninunua siku moja‘ (I don’t have enough money on me, I hope to come back and buy it). He looked in the back seat where Kendi was sleeping and said, ‘ukona ngapi mami? kijana acheze‘ (How much do you have, so the little boy gets a toy?).
The conversation ended when I said ‘huyo ni msichana‘ (that’s a girl). I believe for two reasons:
1. He was unequipped. I saw the confusion on his face, and I think he wanted to ask why I was buying a truck for a girl. But, he didn’t have the language to go with it. Also, he may have been thinking, ‘no, it’s OK to buy girls a truck’. I don’t know why he didn’t reply.
2. Traffic moved forward and he decided not to follow. (refer to part one of reason 1)
Kendi has many toys: A little white duck called Rispah, 2 rugby balls, a soft doll called Akello (her father got her this for her first Christmas), a piano, a giant rubik’s cube, a soccer ball, a brown bear called Wangari (it came with her travel cot), and more. She likes Rispah the best. Then her father’s iPad.
I saw an advertisement on Facebook by a company promoting a particular toy for ‘boys’. It was a plastic, colorful construction set complete with saw, hammer, trowel, and hard hat. I thought “Kendi might enjoy that” but that’s me. Many parents of daughters might not look at that ad again- it says the toy is for boys.
Who decides though? My sister, Tawi asked in the comment section, ‘are only boys born genetically wired to enjoy building things?’. They didn’t reply though.