Guy Talk in Kenya – reflections from the embassy

SI Alumni Network Kenya recently organised the event Guy Talk, based on the Swedish Institute toolkit created by the organization Make Equal. At a Guy Talk event, participants are encouraged to have conversations around the topic of traditional male roles.

Around 20 alumni participated in the event and the Deputy Head of Mission at the Swedish Embassy in Nairobi, Michael Hjelmåker also joined. He shares his experience.

What were the conversations like?

– Having only four participants per table made sure that the conversations became intimate quickly.. The participants didn’t hesitate to share personal experiences and perspectives/viewpoints.

How would you describe the atmosphere in the room?

– The mood was a little tense as the participants didn’t really know what to expect. But although the conversations focused on what are often sensitive issues for Kenyans, it was conducted in a positive tone and often resulted in laughter. The topic really struck a chord with the group. Upon reflection, many of the participants agreed that these were questions that everyone was thinking about but weren’t being talked about openly. They felt it was good to be able to share their thoughts about the topic.

What will you take away from this experience and use in your work at the embassy?

– As a representative of a Swedish foreign ministry with more than one and a half years’ experience in Kenya, it was clear that the conversations during this Guy Talk gave more insight into Kenyan culture than one could ever expect. Notable, and gratifying, is the fact that the investment made by SI through the scholarships has positive consequences that go far beyond study results and job opportunities for Kenyans. The way in which alumni represent Sweden and Swedish values is striking. The embassy thus welcomes SI’s efforts to continue with this type of value-based events.

Are you in contact with the alumni network in your country? If so, you can encourage them to organize a Guy Talk or any of the other toolkits that are available for the alumni networks.