It is another Wednesday and time for Man Around Nairobi where we interview men who live, work and play in this Nairobi. Our Man Around Nairobi today is Wycliff Mokaya. Wycliff Mokay is the Digital Marketing Lead for Amber Hotel, the newly opened contemporary 4 star hotel on Ngong Road. He also does a bit of design work on the side during his spare time as he is loves graphic design and wants to use all his talents.
1. Did you grow up in Nairobi?
No. Not even close. I was born and bred in Kisii. My parents were both civil servants who worked there. We did not move a lot.
My childhood was pretty interesting. Growing up without much TV, no computer games nor bouncing castles meant that all we did was mostly play street football and bano. Homework from school was the last thing in my priorities. My dad used to take us with him to watch soccer at the stadium. The atmosphere was amazing. I guess that’s why to date I am a huge football fan and an Arsenal fan. I still have football stamps I collected from back in the day.
Based on the few times we had an opportunity to watch TV, we picked a couple of characters which sometimes we put into play. We often did our own versions of Mahabarat (the famous Indian TV series in the 90s) and WWE, the then WWF. One of my childhood friends still has a scar on his face from an arrow fired by my brother while playing Arjun’s role from Mahabarat.
Having two elder brothers meant that I had people to look up to. My dad was a strict disciplinarian (he still is). Because of that I (we) had no choice other than live by the rules and uphold high moral standards. Mum was wonderful too (may she RIP), she was such an inspiration. At some point in my childhood I wanted to become a Catholic priest. I actually served as an altar boy.
In high school life was different. I had to learn to be my own man. I became more serious with education and I believe I did well. Afterwards I came to Nairobi to join college. It was a rough start but here we are. I thank God every day. My folks plan was for me to study Accounting & Finance, but on second thought I decided to study Computer Science. That was my passion.
2. What do you love about Nairobi?
The diversity of its people, attractions and opportunities make a Nairobi a unique haven. Infrastructure is fairly good, especially with the super highway and by-passes which make navigation easy. However sometimes we get ourselves in messed up traffic situations due to lack of courtesy and poor coordination by the traffic police.
There are amazingly beautiful places to chill out, unwind with friends and family after a hard day at work or long week. I have a wife and two boys so having ideal spots to take them is important to me. My firstborn is four; his best outing yet is skating at the Aga Khan walk in CBD on Sundays.
3. What would you change about Nairobi?
Cleanliness, Matatu culture and security.
Unless you are driving down in the suburbs and sections of CBD, you will not go far without smelling something dingy or see litter all over. We need collective responsibility to make Nairobi cleaner. I wouldn’t mind participating in a bi-monthly clean-up exercise.
Matatu operators can do all sorts of graffiti and designs as they wish but as long as they don’t misbehave on the roads, I am good with it. No need for careless hooting, overlapping and foul language.
Our security agencies need to be more diligent and act on any intelligence given to them to avert security disasters. Nairobians need to feel free and secure whenever they are about their businesses.
4. As a professional how is it working in Nairobi? Is Nairobi open to what you do or what could be better?
For IT there is no better place to do what I do other than in Nairobi. The opportunities are diverse, that’s why from working for an IT firm a couple of years back, I am now in charge of Digital Marketing for a Hotel. Who would have thought? To date, most of my old friends and colleagues wonder how it happened. Some think I work as a chef. Technology is fast changing and I don’t think there is a place with more ICT hubs in Kenya than in Nairobi. This makes it easier to advance in tech know how.
With all the available resources, we still need better internet speeds. Well, maybe more affordable speeds. I run a bit of side hustles in Web Development and remote IT support. I hope this will change in the near future considering the strides the internet service providers have made. 10 years ago, it was worse with extremely slow speeds.
Life here is unpredictable as it can be, a lot can change within a blink of an eye so one has to be alert. I love it though, I guess its due to the diversity of its people and opportunities that are here. I got lost on my second day in CBD. I took a number 23 matatu at University Way as I knew they’d drop me in Westlands. The next thing I heard was “mwisho”. We were at Odeon bus stop. I was so worried but somehow I figured it out, thank God.
The traffic mayhem is the biggest undoing. Other issues are manageable.
Working in Nairobi has been good so far. The IT field is diverse and there are new tech developments every other fortnight. Staying up to date with tech trends is therefore key in the industry. I am glad I have access to relevant resources and my work allows me to stay updated, at least on my core business which Digital Marketing.
I am also motivated by my role models who have made it (still making it), even with fewer resources. For as long as you are determined, have an open mind and not living a lie, you can make a difference, a good one. That keeps me going everyday.
5. 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.
Culinary needs: Specialty restaurants like the Fogo Gaucho, Carnivore, Chinese restaurants among many other spots will ensure one has a taste of home, away from home. The many beautiful city hotels are also a huge plus for Nairobi.
Nightlife: plenty of good options available.
If you would like to interact with Wycliffe you can find him on twitter at @moqayah.