Shembeteng and the Rise of Popular creativities in Kenya
By Nicodemus Minde
In the recent few weeks a new form of Sheng is emerging. Sheng is Kenyan street slang which has origins in low income urban settings of Nairobi. Dubbed a Shembeteng, this new variety of street slang, has been described by the Kenyan Dictionary as “sheng words that sound like they are encrypted”. The Kenyan Dictionary is a popular platform that decodes Kenyan popular verbal exegeses. It describes itself as a guide to understanding Kenyans. Apart from decoding the verbal exegeses, the platform is a space for reading contemporary Kenyan popular culture. The platform offers a humorous guide and hidden explanations of Kenyan mannerism and what it means to be a Kenyan away from the conventional. It has been argued that Kenya has struggled in its quest for a national and cultural identity but I believe the everyday lived experiences of a Kenyan constitutes a Kenyan identity.
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