DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Culture Shock is Common

Written by: on June 17, 2019

Thank you for making this book available for us to read as we prepare to visit the UK during the Fall Advance class. Kenya being a former colony of the British culture, I could identify myself with many similar issues I read in this book in Kenya.  Tan Terry has prepared us basically to be aware of where we shall be and how we need to take care of ourselves rather than being ignorant. As the book title states, Culture shock is an experience of anybody who moves to another faraway place from what one is used to. It is important to note that every culture all over the world has a unique structure on how they live their lives comfortable to themselves and different from others. Terry Tan starts by describing culture shock as a state of disorientation that can come over anyone who has been thrust into unknown surroundings, away from one’s comfort zone.[1] Part of my work is planting churches in different cultures in African countries. There are many different cultures in Africa, and one cannot generalize Africa as one culture. I have experienced many culture shocks in many African countries in my operation as we have planted churches in Tanzania, Uganda DRC Congo, Rwanda, and Burundi.

It is interesting to note that some of the issues Great Britain is facing are universal and similar in most countries and cities, especially with young people. Teenagers are becoming parents when they are not ready for it. Marriages are breaking more often than it used to be before. Some years back, when I was growing up, it was a taboo for a girl to get pregnant when not married, and it would be hard for her to get married with a child. But today it is prevalent, and single parenting has increased in the last few years than ever before. Many marriages are breaking up, and the number of single parenting is proliferating.

When we were in high school we were taught eating etiquette as we started our first year in high school. Senior students would teach us how to use cutleries, and in the process of preparing you, they would eat all your meat and leave you with soup only to use for your food. As I read this book, I continue to discover what is happening in the city of London is the same as it is in the city of Nairobi with colloquial language use. The Swahili language on the street of Nairobi is not Swahili at all but a street language that is only understood by the young people, it is called “Sheng.” What is coming out clear is that every culture is a shock to another one. When I am expecting to enter into the home of English and listen to the original English language, something else is coming from the streets of London. But I am happy that we have been prepared well through this book although it may not be what we shall expect, cautiously we shall be aware and careful how we handle ourselves when in London. I have benefited reading this book and reminded me a bit of the history of the British, which I did in high school. I have equally learned from reading the book that culture is not static but evolving with times.

[1] (Tan 2008, Loc 33 Kindle Edition)

About the Author


John Muhanji

I am the Director Africa Ministries Office of Friends United Meeting. I coordinate all Quaker activities and programs in the Quaker churches and school mostly in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. The focus of my work is more on leadership development and church planting in the region especially in Tanzania.. Am married with three children all grown up now. I love playing golf as my exercise hobby. I also love reading.

One response to “Culture Shock is Common”

  1. John, we share a lot in our expectations and I believe like myself, there’s some anxiety arising from a lot of uncertainties. I like the way you have highlighted the issue of the dynamism of culture, they change with time. I believe that there are so many versions of English today across the commonwealth states that have been shaped by the different cultures and by time. Do you think we should push for the recognition for African or for Kenyan English just like there is British, American or Australian English?

Leave a Reply to Wallace Kamau Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *