Why Nairobi is a special place to be

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Two fortnights ago, I was hosting a close pal at my home. My father had just turned 69(and please, no jokes about the number 69. This is my father we’re talking about here for Christ’s sake!) And my brother, who is a baker, had blessed us with a beautiful cake to share for his birthday. My father, being a traditional man, downplayed the great achievement of attaining rich age. His kids were having none of that!

And so it is then that my brother and I summoned our best friends that have grown to be like family, to share this special moment. Aww, How sweet! You must think. My father must have been pleased! Well no. He had other plans. Catch a drink at the local with the boys. This, of course became evident only after he walked in much later on in the evening in a flamboyant swagger. Now don’t get me wrong, the man is a natural charm. But a few beers down and you have Casanova reborn.
How I love my old man.
While patiently waiting for the man of the hour, the birthday boy, my pal and I got to catch up.  Among the many topics that were discussed, she exclaimed, “Did you see the ridiculous answers some of our leaders had for Mr Quest, the famous CNN anchor?” My blank look confirmed I was yet to. So she went on, “Kwanza Najib Balala alianza kuongelea maneno ya wanyama!” – The current CS for tourism, talked about the wildlife offered in the city animal park. I tried hard to hold in my chuckle from her irritated face. I failed miserably. You see my pal, whom we have grown together, being friends for 15 years and counting, is one of the most passionate human beings I know. When she does something, it normally is with all she’s got. I love that about her!
I sensed that there was more… “Alafu Shaffie akaanza kuongelea daughter yake, ati everything I do I do it for …” My smile broke into a laugh at how ridiculous it sounded.
Ridiculous not because I think someone’s daughter is not important, every life is as important as the next. Regardless of appearance, religion, gender or even one’s economic standing. We are all governed by the same principles. We come in the same way and go out the same way. Just in case you may have missed it, I meant how we enter the world and come off it. Just in case you still missed it, I meant being born and dying. Just in case… oh damn! Namaanisha kuzaliwa na kukufa! – I mean being born and dying! Ridiculous because Nairobi is what it is because of a cocktail of reasons with its people, the Nairobians being the key to the puzzle.

I am not famous enough to have Mr. Quest ask for my opinion, or he just couldn’t get through to my people in good time or he did, but you know the way my WhatsApp is set up, I take urgent calls only. But if he were to ask me, this is what I would have had to say about the thriving city that is Nairobi.

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1. Nightlife
I doubt if this happens in a lot of cities in the world, but in Nairobi, every day of the week offers a themed night. That means that on any day, you can go out, drink and have a good time. The ladies love to put their dancing shoes to work and the men… Well they ensure bottle service is taken care of all night round. It’s amazing how the collaboration of sexes is well versed. The women have to dress up to make their company look good, while the men keep throwing rounds of Whiskey. Oh another thing, we love our beer and whiskey. I think it’s about time we got our very own branded, Nairobian whiskey, don’t you?
2. Food
From Indian, to Ethiopian to Thai. Even the infamous Chinese delicacies are offered here. But nothing beats the authentic Kenyan staple of the simple dish, Ugali skuma na nyama. Rumor is Kenyans that have relocated to areas that do not have this dish available, sometimes sit and daydream about it for hours on. If you’re visiting Nairobi for the first time, make sure to try our ‘nyama choma and Kachumbari’ it’s a life changing experience! Oh and the good stuff is not found in the posh spots. Look for a ‘kibanda’ – shanty where the head chef is known as ‘Mathe‘.
3. Hidden jokes only Nairobians share and laugh at
Nairobians share a world that is characterized by unique problems. Where you would expect a problem is accompanied by division, we Nairobians have found a way to laugh at our problems. From the ridiculous comments made by some politicians, to NTSA, Matatu menace and scandalous romantic relations. We have found a way to joke about it. Memes are a big way to connect and share a good laugh because of the understanding of the meaning behind it. Which I must admit, we sometimes make too much fun of it that we tend to miss the point that was meant to be addressed.
4. Business ethic
Basically, the government has been very innovative in finding new ways to fuk the economy. No business is safe. With all this fukery that is ongoing, the only thing that has kept us from sinking, is the hard working Nairobian that even when she got knocked down so bad that she should have stayed down, still picks herself up and moves on past it. Perfect example, our hawkers. Many have lost their lives while on the job but still, that does not deter the survivors from reporting to their workstation the next day.

It is one of the few cities in the world where almost everyone has a side hustle besides the office job they hold. Either as an individual or as a group, what we now call a ‘Chama‘. Entrepreneurship is quickly becoming a way of life for us.
5. Unwavering spirit of hope
Nairobi, the capital of Kenya and home to millions has for a long time been viewed as a place of endless possibilities.  Hence why urbanization has seen rapid growth in the past  years. In other parts of the country, one tribe exists predominantly in the county. But the opposite is true in Nairobi as it offers a cocktail of all the Kenyan tribes as well as immigrants. Yes, even third world countries are fair game to foreigners for settlement. So yes, your fat and boring wife still tickles someone else’s fancy.

In the wake of the booming betting business whose head offices are set up all over the capital, it goes without saying that the one thing all these betting firms are selling is hope. The hope of becoming an overnight multi-millionaire. That is evident of how powerful hope, or the idea of it is.

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6. Tech Savvy
Nairobians embrace technology the same way we embrace visitors. With open arms. Thanks to competition from the east that helped bring down prices for gadgets, now almost every individual in the city owns a smart phone.  Which is why news spread like a wild fire here. Internet provided in the City is arguably the best in the continent. This helps keep up with the latest technology available in the market from smart phones to home appliances.
7. Artistic
It’s a shame that the education system offered doesn’t support this, because Kenyans have raw talent in art. Top of my observation being drawing and photography. Other towns are yet to embrace this as a solid source of steady income, but you have your best shot of getting paid for your work in Nairobi. Don’t believe me? Next chance you get, look at the graffiti drawings on the PSV buses that are popularly known as “nganya” in the city. It’s amazing to see the talent expressed in the graphics decorated on the sides of the vehicles.
8. Entertainment
The last points build up to this one. Work hard, play hard has probably been our silent motto. With a wide selection of restaurants and bars to offer entertainment. Malls are now being more innovative with ways to keep shoppers there for longer. They host bowling alleys, gaming outlets and restaurants. The growing middle-class folk love malls for their shopping of nice spots to take a selfie with the hash tag #pizzaislife.

Another thing we the people of Nairobi love is watching movies and series. The available cinemas boast a good footfall especially when a new box office movie premiers. The icing of the cake  is that there is an option for whatever budget you are on. If you are feeling extravagant, you’ll find just the place to spend your money. Rolling on a tight budget? No need to worry, there are many options for you to have fun at a reasonable fee.
9.  M-pesa                                                                                                                                                I remember when I first watched an advert of the new technology in the market that was being phrased as ‘Mpesa’. The scene began with an elderly woman in a tea farm, calling her son to ask when he would next be coming to see her. She went on to explain that she hoped it would be soon because she needed some funds. The son then exclaimed, “usijali mom! Naeza kutumia pesa ata leo ndio usingoje hadi nikuje” – don’t worry mom, I can send you money on your phone as early as today, so you needn’t wait for my arrival to get the money. The mom does not seem to believe what her son was telling her, until a few minutes after when the Mpesa text comes in and she’s able to withdraw the money from an agent.

I did not realize what a big role Mpesa plays in my life until when I traveled to Europe earlier this year. It was frustrating having to carry around physical money or visa cards, while at home I only need to keep my phone charged and I can go about my business all day and transact on the go. The convenience and instant reassurance the platform offers in our daily lives is unbelievable.
10. It’s people, the Nairobians                                                                                                       

 I had to save the best for last. Nairobi is what it is because of its people and what it is not is also because of its people. All the above have been embraced and promoted by the people that live and dwell in the city.  We love good music, good food, good vibes, out of town road trips, quick deals… oh how nothing sells faster in the town like a hot deal! The people in the city are as friendly and helpful as they are competitive. Forging new friendships is easy here. Nairobi hosts an endless list of rags to riches stories, proof that the only limit you will have is the one you place on yourself. I now realize, that just like in anywhere in the world, every single being is self-made. But only the successful bunch will admit it.

“I am not saying that Nairobi is a perfect place. What I am I saying is that without a doubt, Nairobi is a special place to be. You can only experience it once you visit and see it for yourself.”

 

Thank you for reading this far, I sincerely hope that this was educative and fun. If you have points that you feel should have made the list, pop them down below on the comments section and keep the conversation going

Don’t forget to share with that person you know needs to see this!

Sincerely,

DO,

Delightfully Unorthodox

 

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