Today on Man Around Nairobi we feature Ngugi Muthoni. Ngugi Muthoni describes himself as “chivalrous, a style connoisseur and future diplomat. A sociable connector, with the ability to easily network and build relationships with people across the board, makes me a natural communicator and media facilitator. I vigorously pitch for clients’ PR opportunities and oversees media interviews. Projects I have worked on include Nyama Mama Delta launch, Superbrands East Africa Tribute Ceremony 2016, The Forbes Person of the Year 2014, Knight Frank Wealth Report 2015/2016, Pro Golfer Matt Ford, artist 2Chainz, Tinie Tempah, B.o. B, food and beverage media tastings for various restaurants and the CNBC All Africa Business Leaders Awards amongst others. I actively engage in social media keeping close tabs on industry trends. My life’s Mantra – Destiny is Choice, not Chance. I love and aspire for the finer things in life; discover, explore, experience luxe in and from Nairobi with me on my pages; Luxenairobi on Instagram & Twitter.”
- Did you grow up in Nairobi?
I did not grow up in Nairobi, I am a village boy brought up in Sigona, in two villages, Nguriunditu and Ika Imwe. I also happened to attend my primary school there near the KARI Muguga Offices. My life in Nairobi begun during my High School days where I used to visit my aunt who used to live along Ngong Road and later Pangani. Growing up was very interesting as I was the first child to be born in my maternal family. You can imagine all the attention from my aunts and grandparents. I was literally a prince, some of them still refer to the 30-year-old me as ‘baba’ or ‘prince’ ?. Most of my peers while growing up were girls, when playing cha baba cha mama, the girls had to fight to be my wife. Lol. I guess this is where I picked my OCD, I am a neat freak and stickler for order. I was the shy boy around town, always smiling with very few words to say. I was also a ‘professional’ wedding page boy, my mum’s and cucu’s friends would book me in advance. I had enough Kaunda suits; your boy was born camera ready! Clothes have always made me happy, I love dressing sharp and pushing boundaries when it comes to fashion, normal is not my thing.
When growing up, I was quite reserved although I played the usual childhood games like cha baba cha mama, hide and seek, broken telephone, and climbing trees to pick fruits. I used to hang out with my cousins, neighbours or friends from church. Saturday afternoons were mostly spent in church (PCEA) for dance and songs practice for inter-church competitions.
What was memorable about growing up outside Nairobi was that one appreciates and get in touch with nature more. You get to herd goats, chase after free-range chicken, watch cows being milked in the evening, as well as be part of a community. When I visited Nairobi, I could not freely go into other people’s homes as I could while back home.
Visiting Nairobi was interesting for me. I’ve always had a keen eye for style and fashion trends. Whilst in Nairobi I discovered Gikomba & Toi markets. Thrifting became my new thing, I had to save enough so as to go shopping during the long holidays. I happened to meet and interact with guys who were styling persons of note in the society back then where I learnt a few tricks on how to live a champagne life on a beer budget.
- What do you love about Nairobi?
The People. The Culinary Experience. The Weather. The Fast Nature, and most importantly the fact that it is 20 minutes drive from my home area. Nairobi ‘Green City in the Sun’ is a lively city, full of culture and historically rich. I had the pleasure to experience the city over 24 hours last year during the #NairobiIGTour. You certainly can’t exhaust what Nairobi has to offer no matter how many years you have lived here.
The people are rather warm and fun-loving depending on the approach you take. I have had the pleasure to interact and network with various persons socially and in my line of work and made great friends & acquaintances. True to these words, ‘your network is your net worth’.
You will experience the finest food specialities in Nairobi. No matter where you come from, you will find delicious food that will suit your taste buds. As a self-confessed foodie, Nairobi has endless offerings with more than 300 restaurants to choose from.
The nightlife is vibrant and I bet it compares to legendary clubs around the globe. Lol (I could be wrong). The passion and energy that characterizes the Nairobi revellers are unmatched, most of the popular clubs always have a crowd no matter the day of the week. It’s never a dull moment going dancing on a Friday or Saturday night.
Despite a good number of people still not understanding what PR & Comms professionals do, the craft has grown and is increasingly being appreciated more. The growth of digital media has also played a part in this, digital PR is now a thing. The presence of notable multinationals, blue-chip companies have played a role in the growth of the sector due to their constant need for our services. With Nairobi’s vantage geopolitical position, things can only get better with more local, regional & international companies setting up shop here.
- What would you change about Nairobi?
Traffic. Congestion. The filth. Insecurity. These come top of mind. I hope I live to see the day Nairobi will be a clean city. Can you imagine how beautiful the city would be with clean water flowing across the Nairobi River and its tributaries? I hope this is not just a dream. Waste management in Nairobi is terrible. There are streets you dread passing by due to the stench. I can only imagine the rodents that crawl this city.
Traffic is a nightmare, for a drive/commute that would ideally take 20 minutes, it takes one and a half hours or more. Something’s got to give otherwise, we waste so many man-hours on the road. Security is wanting, I joke with my friend that in some parts of Nairobi, one’s morals and eyebrows are not safe’?. Only recently, we were informed to avoid wearing enticing stuff and advised to walk in groups in the central business district (CBD) so as not to attract thieves’ attention. Come on! Should half my office accompany me for a meeting across town? Security in a regional city/hub should be given the seriousness it deserves.
There is need for more content creators in Nairobi and the world over. PR & Marketing is centred around great content. Modern-day marketing is about storytelling, we need more genuine, authentic storytellers & content creators. In my little way, I hope I can contribute to this endeavour.
- As a professional how is it working in Nairobi? Is Nairobi open to what you do or what could be better?
As a Public Relations/Communications professional, Nairobi is fast-paced always demanding long or late hours. PR professionals always seem to have the best job ever- champagne, great food and gorgeous pictures. What people don’t understand is that there is much work that is always put in beforehand. Yes, Nairobi is open for PR professionals as the profession is increasingly being recognized. With the growth of Digital PR & Social media management, the opportunities are vast. You just have to be good at what you do and always stay up to date with the world. Go out there, network and always remember to introduce yourself and say what you do and envision to do. Make it peoples job to remember you and not yours to remember them…there I made your life easier.
Opportunities: communication is at the heart of human existence and survival thus this will be a field that will remain relevant for years to come. With increased competition in the business world, companies have to be strategic in the way they communicate both internally and externally to build and maintain relationships.
Challenges: not everyone who can talk can communicate; communication is indeed a science. There is hard work that goes into Communications/PR campaign execution, the notion that this profession is all about parties and cocktail receptions is still alive.
Most companies with not have budgets for these services thus PR/Comms will always depend on other departments for funds to carry out their mandate. Budgets are & still remain a big challenge.
- 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?
Definitely a morning drive at Nairobi National Park. This is an experience that you cannot have anywhere else in the world. Catching the sunrise overlooking Nairobi city from the park is magical.
I love nature, thus a walk, run or cycling at Karura Forest would be another unforgettable outdoor experience.
Thirdly, food & nightlife, the options are limitless. Karibu Nairobi, ama namna gani?
If you would like to interact with Ngugi you can find him on social media at @ngugimuthoni.