English: Picture of Makmende
Image via Wikipedia

Viral trends are the daily social flares that rise up as if out of nowhere, and then flares out as if it was not there, usually tied to specific events or ideology in a day in time.

Daily trends are mapped by sites like and
Google Zeitgeist also outlines global trends.
One of Kenya‘s first globally recognized viral internet trends, is of course, Makmende.   Google it.
From these sites one can trace the current hot topics on the internet in any city at a specific time.
Memes on the other hand, grown up trends. they just do not go away.
They, by nature, carry a consistent repetitive theme or concept, but expressed in a myriad different ways from a persons perspective or usage in different concepts.

What is a Meme?


  1. An element of a culture or behavior that may be passed from one individual to another by nongenetic means, esp. imitation.
  2. An image, video, etc. that is passed electronically from one Internet user to another.
Memes last and last. They are a variation of the Darwinian biological theory of Natural Selection, and here too, the same factors apply: What makes a concept last?

“Natural selection occurs whenever the following conditions exist (Dennet 1990):

  1. Variation: a continuing abundance of different elements.
  2. Heredity or replication: the elements have the capacity of creating copies or replicas of themselves.
  3. Differential “fitness”: the number of copies of an element that are created in a given time varies, depending on the interaction between the features of that element (whatever it is that makes it different from other elements) and features of the environment in which it persists.”
It is normally a derivative of a single concept, but hitherto expressed in varied ways that ensure the concept does not die out.
The science of memes is one of the oldest and most discussed aspects of social engineering, as memes shape our thinking, how we speak, our ideologies on life.
However in this article we discuss internet memes. Memes that cut across through different internet media and have a place in the real world.
A good place to understand internet memes is, which acts as a Wikipedia of sorts outlining the origin, growth and progression of internet memes.
An example of a global meme that is easy to relate to is YO DAWG.

The Yo Dawg image is a Meme that erupted from Xzibit‘s show, Pimp My Ride, which featured Xzibit making superflous surprise upgrades to someone’s car, mostly in tandem to someone’s hobbies.

This concept is extended to anything that any person does that is an exaggeration of a basic idea. For example, if someone is overdressed, a simple  “Yo Dawg….” would do.

Xzibit’s reaction

The explosive popularity of microblogging service Twitter has reached celebrities, Xzibit included.

In one of his first tweets he decries his embodiment as a meme: View Tweet

…which led to the creation of this image macro:

Several days later, he rescinded his criticism, saying “i’m not mad @ you”: View Tweet

In the final stage of celeb-o-meme — “acceptance” — Xzibit embraces the yo dawg, attempting to his own: View Tweet

Know your meme puts into internet history important trends that fixate into memes, that mark the influence of certain social events that thereafter create a change in perception or reaction to certain concepts.
In this regard, it is equally important for us to note down our memes and herein I make a feeble attempt from my limited knowledge. Kenyas memes are conveyed mainly through music,media and internet, i.e TV and Radio, Facebook and twitter.
I will need your help so please feel free to add to this post by comment.
So what are our memes in Kenya?
You may have forgotten this one, but in my book Unbwogable was Kenya’s first viral meme. It was a simple song by Gidi Gidi and  Maji Maji, a dholuo slang word which translates to unstoppable.
Released in time with Kenya’s 2007 elections, the song was popularised by both the ODM political campaign and used to mean that they were unstoppable.
The term stuck and is still in use in kenyan slang.
A kenyan slang word that means to arrive, it was popularized by the song Toklezea by Abbass and Chantelle.
It was made even more popular by the political satire, XYZ’s caricatures of beleaguered politicians, The Hague Six, giving a rendition of the same concept.
It is now a regular word that is used in high and low places to mean to appear, to stand out, either for a meeting, a party…anything.
Eg: This girls smile has tokelezead, I have tokelezead for the party, Thierry Henri has toklezead at Arsenal… you get the drift.
The Ujinga Ni, both on facebook and twitter  and in real world, translates to “Stupidity is…”
It simply refers to exaggerations on basic aspects of commonplace stupidity.
An example, Ujingani buying me a cold hotdog.
check out the Ujungani Tacebook group, and the hash tag #ujingani on twitter for more.
Public transport is an aspect of typical Kenyan life, one that is not slated to go away for a long long time. The gritty aspect of this mode of transport has produced some of the rudest bus conductors ever, giving birth to the “Majibu Za Makanga ” Meme. (Which loosly translates to: The replies of   conductors”
The facebook group Majibu Za Makanga outlines the populace’s experiences. With about 57,000 likes and growing.
Here is one of them:
Pass: Hey…turn on the radio.
Conductor: gimme a light.
(Its terribly funny in Swahili. Some jokes cannot be translated.
Stude: Si uwashe screen!
Conda: Leta kibiriti)
Mchongwano is kenya’s equivalent to America’s Yo Mama Jokes, though Yo Mama jokes are specific to mamas, Mchongwanos are generic on any topic, butthe point is to diss the recepient of the Mchongwano. the word loosely translates to “the Act of teasing”
there are several Facebook Groups and internet sites on this.
I wish to first state that this is not a political mudslinging campaign, and that it is a representation of the perception of him is a is the internets.
Our Vice-President has made a meme of himself. Due to his political lifecycle and his ability to shift allegiance, Kenyans have memed him.  He stands for indecisiveness. As such Kenyans use the term Kalonzo in everyday use, in jokes, even in serious situations.
One may hear statements like: “the weather today is kalonzo kalonzo”, or “We ni Watermellon kama Kalonzo ( You are a watermellon[Red inside green Outside] like Kalonzo)
What other typically Kenyan memes might I have left out?

One thought on “KENYAN MEMES IN 2011

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s