Nairobians are a special breed of Kenyans that are unmatched in their spirit and wit. They are the most feared of all of us with their unique blend of aggression and ambivalence. It is rumoured that when Kenyans go abroad and “give the rest of us a bad name” it is most likely a Nairobians.
The people who live, breathe and work in Nairobi have an existence that is entirely their own.
Here are some of the things that make you a Nairobian (apart from living there, of course).
You only board new nganyas
When you’re at a bus stand and all minivans and their touts call for customers- you only answer to the call of the newest, brightest, shiniest and loudest. You know it will fill up quickly because other people think like you.
Even though they will probably charge you a bit higher (for ambience I guess) you know it’s worth it because it will be fast, it will probably have Wi-Fi and the driver will be in the know for escape routes in the event of traffic. Or so you hope.
You’re suspicious of free stuff
Whenever someone in a supermarket or on the streets approaches you with a “free sample”, you immediately assume that it’s an elaborate attempt to con you of your hard earned money. You listen to them with half an ear when they corner you and your foot facing the direction closest to the exit the moment you hear the words “But if you buy this one”…
You always have to know how something “free” is making money before they make a fool out of you.
You have to check both sides of a one way street when you’re crossing
Because bodabodas are just two wheeled pedestrians.
You live for chakula mwitu
You have a mutura guy, a chapo guy, a samosa guy, a mandazi guy and you eat mahindi choma indiscriminately.
You buy already boiled beans and ndengu on the streets.
You miss genge and kapuka
Whenever you board a nganya and they have a DJ mixtape filled with the Gidigidi Majimaji or Redsan classics then you’re in heaven. You momentarily ask why the genre hasn’t made a comeback but forget about it as soon as you alight. Only for the question to recur in your mind when you walk outside a club that’s playing the E-Sir classics.
“Welcome to measure your height and weight,” a Nairobi proverb
They are everywhere. Novelty gadgets that customers stand on to measure their heights and weights for a fee that varies depending on your proximity to CBD. The closer to downtown the cheaper the rates.
You go shopping at night
Despite being a gigantic East African economic trading hub during the day, Nairobi turns into a flea market at night. The city plays the soundtrack that accompanies every bargain buyer where people can buy clothes, shoes or food at way below sokoni value.
You avoid Uhuru Park on Sundays
The place is one that celebrates a lot about the Kenyan spirit. It caters to the family crowds and you avoid the place because you know it will be filled with ice cream and balloon vendors and children who are unnaturally overjoyed at the sound of air horns.
You hate it when
A conductor refuses to take you 200/- note because “Sina change”.
A matatus drops you way before or after your intended stage.
A matatus drops you when you’re the excess passenger because “Kuna karao pale mbele”.
A shopkeeper or M-pesa attendant makes you wait because “sina loose”.
Nairobi is one of the most thriving places to live. But like any city it can be draining. It can cost you a lot, but if you are armed with the right information it becomes your friend. Life in Nairobi then comes at you na bei ya kuongea.