At times writing is effortless. Other times nightmarish. But it's always therapeutic.

Kenya and tipping

with 5 comments

Last weekend, almost halfway into the ceremony, I discovered that I was glorying in the wrong wedding reception, several other peoples’ chicken drumsticks already in my stomach. Spectacles are expected to follow a stomach that rarely sees chicken tumbling down the way of the throat. I will post this in detail next after writing about tips.

Giving tips in restaurants and hangout dens in Kenya is not common. Kenyans don’t expect to give tips; well some of them. Why give a tip when she or he will be paid anyway? It’s their job the waiters are into. Looking at their eyes when the bill hits the table, log or floor depending on location, you can tell the waiters don’t as well expect to receive any from their fellow country men and women. It’s a pleasant surprise if they do.

What is a tip? It is not short for phrases such as “To Insure Prompt Service”, “To Insure Proper Service”, “To Improve Performance”, “To Inspire Promptness” or “To Insure Promptness.” A tip, I’d say is in most cases a monetary appreciation of decent service. It is also very cultural with its form varying from places to places. It’s optional or should be optional. ‘Should’ because in some cultures a service charge is made part of the bill and that’s it. Service charge!

In China, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea tipping is not the norm. In France and Finland, it’s also not expected. Kenya? Well, I wouldn’t say it’s not expected but it definitely is not mandatory.

The reason many don’t tip in Kenya could be out of taking tipping to be a foreign practice. I mean true tipping, not leaving small change behind. An act of riding on other peoples’ way of life to show a class you really don’t care about. An act of television. An unwise budgetary move because those tips you give eat away on your chances of having another meal or drink in this restaurant. Really? Whatever the reason is it’s not a common practice.

If the above is true in Kenya, then we have support in some economists like Ian Ayres, Fredrick E. Vars & Nasser Zakariya who have suggested that tipping is economically inefficient.

I do give tips but only on condition that there is a reason to appreciate. If the service was below anticipation, my coins are mine to the last. Well, still others tip or choose not to on account of faces. I must emphasis that tipping is at basic, an act of kindness. If you don’t tip, it could be you are chiche or maybe you express your kindness elsewhere in greater ways, even. If you do, you’re counted kind – even kind to a pretty face.

Service charge is what I don’t like at all. It’s imposed. Just say it’s 1000 US dollars for a cup of tea and that’s it. The bill will read better and clearer than $950 for tea and $50 for service charge.

However if you can, I find it a decent conventional and elective habit, to tip where due. Tip me for writing this.


Written by coldturkey

May 29, 2011 at 10:33 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

5 Responses

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  1. Where do we tap so that we can tip you for this post?

    As in I don’t see a donate button!

    Anyway, since another Kenyan meaning for TIP is Tengeneza Iwe Poa as in corruption, I add my ayes to Ayres aye that tipping is economically inefficient.


    May 30, 2011 at 10:25 AM

    • Hey Miriam, never leaving wit behind wherever you go. The comment is a tip.
      Tengeneza Iwe Poa…hm.

      Cold Turkey

      June 12, 2011 at 9:01 PM

  2. This is a tricky one 🙂 Well, I usually tip as I found out in the long run, it works to my advantage; especially at places where I’m a regular…And yes, I find the service charge annoying & a touch unfair on the staff (especially if there is one amongst them who is not pulling his/her weight)


    June 27, 2011 at 10:51 AM

  3. Hey, when are you going to wow us with another post? You’re missed!!!


    July 20, 2011 at 8:13 PM

    • Hey Nyambura, in a weekend something will be up. Something happened today that set up a post in my mind. ‘wow’ is such an exotic word! cheers 🙂


      July 20, 2011 at 8:21 PM

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