I started out in Harambee estate. That’s were my formative years were spent with activities – duf mpararo, adventure and the occasional “war” with a rival faction of boys. Mostly good clean(ish) fun). In 1987, my family moved to Thindigua, along Kiambu road. This was an estate where the soul living organisms were us, Napier grass, coffee and thugs. Fortunately, we moved in with dogs so we never had a run in with the local welcoming committee. Kiambu was very green back then. It’s becoming a concrete jungle now, a situation I find deplorable. Progress alas, has a very high price tag.
We played all the usual games – tipo, hide and seek, safo (aka Safari Rally), chobo mob (aka chobo ua) were played in the estate. When we moved to Thindigua our games moved towards long bike rides (to Kiambu town and through Ridgeways to Ruaraka). Adventure was exploring interesting areas like Kiarie Muishi’s farm (his henchmen shot arrows at us. Luckily, they missed) as well as exploring Windsor when it was being built. The Windsor expedition was carried out when we were still recovering from circumcision… A fact we quickly forgot while fleeing from guard dogs and scaling a barbed wire fence. Stitches were ruptured 🙁
I don’t think kids now experience the freedom to explore their surroundings as thoroughly as we did ours. We often ended up eating at various houses collectively, and misbehavior would be met with instant punishment from the nearest adult. I feel kids now demand that entertainment come in a pre-packaged form, rather than inventing their own. I guess we invented out of necessity as well….with TV starting at 4 (2 pm on the weekend) with a maximum of 1 hour of cartoons, we had to become adept at entertaining ourselves.
2. What you love about Nairobi?
I like that you can stroll in downtown Nairobi and pick up any number of books for very little money. This one feature alone has built up my negotiation skills, both with the book vendors and with my matatu guys for discounted fares as I would usually spend part of my bus fare on a must have book.
Nairobi is awesome at linking like-minded people together. I met the people I work with through Nairobi’s buzzing tech hubs. I work in IT, designing and implementing cloud solutions for SME’s and Enterprise clients. Most buildings in and around Nairobi are within close proximity of a fiber cable, which goes a long way in driving uptake of our solutions and service offerings. Nairobi has a very deep pool of technical expertise, something one can easily take for granted until you step into other towns and cities and realize that they all source their talent from Nairobi first.
3. What would you change about Nairobi?
Drainage. Nairobi is (in)famous for its surprise swimming pools with the occasional secret ingredient of sewage thrown in. This really needs to be addressed.
The other thing I’d really like to take on is the plastic waste disposal process. Countries like Sweden convert their waste into electricity by burning. I think we should explore such options.
I’m also leaning towards the banning of plastic bags. I hate looking at the rivers that run through the city and seeing them choked with plastic debris and foaming agents. If we can’t use plastics responsibly, I’d rather we work through the inconvenience of living without them.
4. As a professional how is it working in Nairobi? Is Nairobi open to what you do or what could be better?
Poor city planning. Our customers are affected by connectivity issues. There are far too many fiber cuts happening around the city for reliable internet to flourish. It’s been very frustrating for service providers, their customers and platform owner like Node Africa.
Some thoughts on this:
1. Nairobi is not optimized for business in my opinion. The licensing process is too complex, requiring multiple licenses which I feel could be consolidated and streamlined.
2. I wish the city were optimized for non motorized transport around the city, so I could bike to any point within the city in about an hour without the menace of boda bodas and matatus to content with.
3. I wish there were more green spaces distributed across the city. There’s this rush to maximize every single inch and the end result is the loss of the green element in the moniker “Green City in the Sun”.
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.
1. For the animal lovers: Giraffe Manor. It’s an other worldly experience to share breakfast with a companion with a 20″ long blue tongue. They don’t come much stranger than that. After which they can:
2. Feed the elephants at Dave Sheldrick Elephant orphanage. It’s a fantastic experience to tickle a baby elephant around the ears. Finally, for the artsy type there’s
3. Kitengela Glass which is a hands on glass blowing experience. You are bound to find something there that you’d take home with you.
Bonus: Railways Museum. Those old ladies are absolute beauties. If their visit coincides with the annual steam locomotive trip to Mombasa, that’s a must do as well.