Our Man Around Nairobi today is Charles Kibinda. Charles Kibinda is a Communications, P.R. and Events Producer who occasionally dabbles in Social Media. He currently works for a road safety and awareness company, Dalcom Kenya Ltd, as its communications manager. He is also very much into current affairs, politics (local and foreign), good food, sports, with soccer (Arsenal, Gor Mahia and Real Madrid, not necessarily in that order) and rugby. Charles says he is also a strong believer in God, but not in religion.
- Did you grow up in Nairobi?
I grew up in Nairobi, Dagoretti Corner to be precise, though my first baby steps were in Kariobangi South. Dagoretti Corner was one of the best things that could have happened to me because I got exposed to a very diverse group of people growing up; hustlers, executives, street families, grass-to-grace success stories et al. I have developed with the town and as it continues to grow, I grow with it.
Growing up I played a lot of football, especially at the City Council grounds. I also had the privilege of owning a bike, so excursions around the neighbourhood were numerous.
- What you love about Nairobi?
Nairobi is incredible. As a melting pot of all cultures, customs, traditions and lifestyles, it embraces those who embrace it. It is also has the unique ability of combining the old school with the new. For example, the old streets and buildings have in a way been integrated with the new. The city’s boundaries are being redesigned every waking day. In addition, the people who have been in the city the longest have also found a way of having a working relationship with the newbies. For some reason, this adds flavor and character to this beloved town.
Let us not forget the digital age and the revolution it’s bringing with it. Then there’s the amazingly large number of good-looking women, those that have been cosmetically enhanced with weaves and off color foundation and the naturalistas too.
- What would you change about Nairobi?
Its leadership, for starters. For a short period between 2004 and 2011, the city, especially the CBD, was outstanding! The streets were clean, the buildings were freshly painted and we had managed to cure the city of the hawkers menace and the street thugs. The surrounding outskirts and estates had good access roads and there were trees all over. The parks were also green throughout the year. Nairobi had managed to re-establish itself as the “green city in the sun”.
Come 2013 and all the progress that we had made changed overnight. There is garbage all over, the street menace is back, the roads remain unrepaired and the city has lost its glory. The sad fact is that the rates, fees and fines have all gone up. Traffic is also a nightmare and nothing is being done about it, considering the man hours lost on our roads. This is clearly a leadership issue and the City Fathers seem too inept or nonchalant about it.
4. As a professional how is it working in Nairobi? Is Nairobi open to what you do or what could be better?
Nairobi is the hub of innovation, based on what else is out there. In my line of work, innovation and creativity is of paramount importance. This city has given very many opportunities to very many people and those who have grabbed them with both hands have succeeded. Nairobi can be very unforgiving to those who do not take advantage of opportunities that come their way.
Due to high competition, and having been exposed to the very best in my industry, a move outside of the city is always a feasible option. I do not intend to spend too much time on one thing if the grass is greener elsewhere. In fact, I could always come back and recharge my professional batteries if and when the need arises.
Almost everybody and their Aunt Mary are now in the business of event production, therefore diluting the actual importance of the job. Secondly, we have many so-called “clients” who do not pay for basics, like conceptualization and planning. In their opinion, the creative part of our business is not considered actual work.
I love the challenges that come with my job. It calls for being creative since the competition is quite stiff. There isn’t much I would change, since this is a dynamic industry and there’s a new thing every morning.
- If you had a tourist friend coming in from outside the country what three things would you say to sell them the idea that Nairobi is worth visiting.
Going with the cliché on this one, the National Park and its Safari Walk is quite something. The National Museum will also offer a much-needed insight on the country’s history, so a quick stop there will not hurt. Other sights and sounds will be the Ngong’ Hills, the Rift Valley Viewpoints just outside of the city and the Bomas of Kenya. I would also recommend a drive along the rim of the city, via the newly constructed bypasses.
Let us also not forget the city’s incredibly vibrant nightlife. A tourist’s meal at the Carnivore, the ribs at the Spur Restaurant, a quick and inexpensive beer tasting at the Brew Bistro and Lounge, then probably catch a rugby match or two at the Harlequins.
I would highly recommend that this tourist friend of mine also makes a mandatory pilgrimage to Dagoretti Corner, the buckle of Nairobi’s beer belt, and indulge in the town’s renowned meat and mead/ale. It would be highly unacceptable if this individual would leave Nairobi without visiting this most glorious of places/