Growing as a in Nairobi has been both a thrill and a hustle. As a child not growing up in Nairobi, was like a bad thing. we would call fellow children not from Nairobi ‘washamba’. Being a mshamba meant that you did not wear like us, you did not watch the cartoons we did you did not go to a school with an over rated name, where the teachers made you speak in English all through like we did. It instead meant that, you wore tailor-made clothes as we wore infamous mutumba, telly was not a priority since you spent your childhood playing childhood games like bano,kati and brikicho only to return home late in the evening too tired to watch the TV and above all you went to a school that vernacular was a subject (no stereotype intended)
Dearest green city in the sun,
Thank you for my childhood. I can clearly remember the joy and excitement that filled my face at the age of six when my mother announced that we would be going to the CBD. This meant that,we would stop by a crowded poorly lit diner for sausage, chips and soda baridi then walk through the crowded streets to Uhuru Park, and probably take a photo ‘on’ KICC. Walking among the crows was a scary experience. Thoughts of getting lost and being separated with my mother always crowded my mind. I imagined that a big bad man carrying a sack would carry me away and sell me(ideas our parents filled us with when we did wrong and they did not have the energy to beat us). What actually scared me the most was the sky scrapers…what held them up there, I did not understand. At Uhuru Park, we would picnic on the grass, get my face painted and get a chance on the many swings and slides,but the prime time of the day is when i got a boat ride on the shaky leg paddles rafts. OH!the good old days.
The overpriced and overrated schools had their own advantage, school trips which always ended up at the parliament building, The National Museum and the Nairobi nation park (I am not advertising Nairobi). This trips especially to the national park confused me. Teachers in school we busy spanking and scolding me to get my facts right yet reality proved me wrong. School taught me that most animals are found in the savanna, yet the same school took me to see them in the city and Alex in Madagascar the movie sealed the deal.
As a teenager being in the city felt like being alive, like being part of the action. Nairobi to me was more than an escapade from reality of all the problems that went on at home it was a happy place. I could sit outside the Kenya National Archives waiting for my boyfriend so that we could go out for ice cream and if we were ‘baling’ enough a pizza on a terrific Tuesday and a couple of rounds of FIFA at Game Masters(class of 2014 I am sure you relate. As I waited for bae, staring at the statue of Tom Mboya and watching as many people pass, meet and greet, all that went through my mind is how old the city feels in touch with its past, yet multi ethnic enough I was part of the difference and experience. it was always funny to sit beside Tom Mboya, and have the best internet access.
Meeting with a boyfriend in the city center was nothing in comparison to when your parents sent you to some office in the city center. Meeting a boyfriend was easy since I knew where Archives is from my s and I followed that route every time I was on y secret rendezvous, in comparison to some vague directions by a busy soldier of a dad. The worst part was not the directions, but how you would beat the directions and time limit at the same time. YES! I do have google maps, but the threat of loosing my phone and getting to face my father kept in the depth of pocket. the long green building (afya center), its comb shaped brother (KICC) and the mother and father of all saving graces Nation House and Times Tower, guided me through. Thankyou Nairobi for never-changing.
Early twenties and the campus urge to have fun and belong has taught me about the hype and the beauty of Nairobi’s night life. Need I say much about the pomp, colour,quality sound and drama of the likes of Florida 2000, Tribeka, club Bettyz, Black Diamond and my all time favourize Skylux(pardon me for th cliché). Girls in this club have taught me that you don’t have to buy Dolce & Gabbana to ‘slay’ mutumba will just do, and the guys taught me that style doesn’t matter, all that matters is who looks the best in it.
My love letter to Nairobi however ends on a sad note. In my late twenties having to wake up very early in the morning only to get late to work because of the traffic jam is my everyday regret of growing up. every memory of my childhood joy and adventurous youth is broken down every time I have to struggle for a matatu back home in my tight skirt that I wore to impress my boss and my mitumba high heels. Worst experience is when it heavily rains in the city center and the gutter water ovrflows, and the bus fare to rongai are overpriced.
But with not so much of a choice but patriotism and for old-time sake, I LOVE YOU NAIROBI.