Today on Man Around Nairobi we feature Stephen Mwangi aka Mwass. Stephen Mwangi is a lover of all things artsy. He is a creative copywriter at an ad agency. He considers himself a free spirit with big dreams. Live bands make him smile, good friends make him laugh. In future, he hopes to become a happy adult.
- Did you grow up in Nairobi? If you did where and how was it growing up here?
Yes. I was born and raised in this great city. A big part of my early childhood was spent in Jerusalem and Uhuru estates before we moved to Kahawa Sukari – a suburb along Thika Road. Growing up in Nairobi was quite the experience. The memories I’ve made are beyond priceless.
I grew up playing kawaida kid games. We rode bikes in packs around the estate and organized football tournaments as well. I was always the goalkeeper. At some point I was king of bano. My childhood was mostly memorable because I spent so much time outdoors. I have studied in Nairobi all through 8-4-4 (JKUAT Juja campus is also kinda Nairobi, yes?). I’ve made friends from both sides of Moi Avenue so I can pretty much switch up from ‘Wazi buda’ to ‘Cheers my guy’ in the blink of an eye.
- What do you love about Nairobi?
I love so many things about Nairobi. The people – amazing and inspiring folk roam these streets. Walking down an avenue in the CBD means you get to see an acrobat, a pastor, a pick-pocket, fine women, kanjo, a hawker – sometimes all these are the same person. Working with brands means you have to understand how these people think, what they love and what they care about. I love that most of Nairobi is now online. This gives the industry a bigger playing field where digital marketing can thrive.
I love the vibrant nightlife. Nairobi literally never sleeps. I love the hard work I see every day as I commute to work. I love the street-food, mitumba stalls and souped up matatus; but most of all, I love the fact that you can get anything you’re looking for in Nairobi if you ask the right people.
- What would you change about Nairobi?
Traffic. I hate that you can wish the same person a happy birthday twice while stuck in the same matatu. Also, the politicians. I reckon there’s an actual sack of maize that has done more for this city than some elected officials. Making Nairobi a better city has to start somewhere. It starts with putting the right people in office.
For the creative industry to thrive, the policies created have to allow a certain level of creative freedom so content can be consumed as we imagine and plan.
I would do away with the litter and insecurity in most areas. That would make this city so much greater. Also, I hate it when people fart in public transport. If there’s any politician who will tackle these issues they have my vote. The last one maybe not really but if you have it covered in you manifesto I’ll definitely give you points for creativity.
- As a professional how is it working in Nairobi? Is Nairobi open to what you do or what could be better?
If you overlook the hustle and bustle of getting from one end of the City to the other, Nairobi is promising career-wise. Although there are a few challenges, I think the major one I’d love to rise above is clients opening up to more ‘out of the box’ ideas. Granted, unconventional ideas means a bigger budget, but compared to what impact that creates on your brand, it’s the smartest route to take.
There are limitless opportunities – you just have to be smart enough to make the best out of them. I’m in the creative industry, a space that is ever evolving. I like that Nairobi is really competitive. Seeing new ideas pop up every day makes one appreciate the passion and really push boundaries when creating. Nairobi is inspiring, to say the least.
- 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.
Three words: form ni gani?
There’s so much you can do in Nairobi. We’re the only city with a national park within it. That would be a start.
Paint balling, bowling, GP Karting if you’re competitive and like to have a blast. There’s Ngong Hills, Rolf’s Place and Karura for some great outdoors. The Nairobi Museum, Bomas of Kenya and Ole Polos for some culture.
But most of all, you need to get together with amazing friends and club hop around Nairobi then end the night with boiled eggs and choma sausages as the sun comes up. It’s sensational.