I celebrated my birthday last year while working in Nairobi and, as the boss, I was expecting my Kenyan colleagues to put on some fun but respectful festivities. You know; a card, a cake, some clapping and then a couple of cold casks – so long as it began with ‘C’ that’s all I was imagining.

In the week leading up to the big day, the whole office seemed to be communicating through the medium of whispering only, and I wasn’t in on it.

I was worried.

The day came and birthday wishes flooded in.  Or, to say it in the local accent, ‘bathday’ wishes.

The word on the street was that, usually, the person celebrating would end the day by being drenched in water. Not believing they would do this to me, again, the boss, I didn’t take much heed – convinced, as I was, that they held me in the highest esteem. Just to be sure though, I kept my anorak on all day.

Time came for the card, cake and clapping. I sensed tension in the air and kept as alert as I could given that the casks of Tusker had already started flowing. My fondness for this local lager was ultimately my downfall, as the plotting that had been going on finally came to light.

I wasn’t to be given a bath of boring old water; I was to be drenched in beer.

My birthday night was not spent on the town, but instead at home washing Tusker out of my hair and clothes.

Here’s my first bathday:

Official celebrations took place at a later date:






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