Today on Man Around Nairobi we feature techie Charles Kireki who is behind some of the most famous Kenyan memes you may have seen on the internet. Charles Kireki also known as droid254 describes himself as a fun-loving geek who loves anything tech. When he is not sitting in the office at one of the leading e-commerce companies being a ninja, he is indoors watching movies, playing video games or making memes.
- Did you grow up in Nairobi?
I was born and brought up in Nyamira although most of my childhood was spent in Kericho. This is where I went to primary school. Most of my priceless childhood memories are from Kericho. My true connection with Nairobi came when I was in campus and I used to spend my holidays in the city.
Growing up outside Nairobi was fun and eye-opening. I remember when I was in primary school and once a year the Sikh temple would organize a feast for all the schools around the town and no other school would represent like mine.
Like most Kenyan households, we used to own this small black and white TV where we watched shows like Sabre Rider, Sinbad, Gargoyles etc. I was always an indoor person ( I still am). We made cars from wires, played “chobo mangoto” with balls crated from plastic bags. Later in upper primary I learnt how to use computers and play computer games. That’s when my indoor life started. We used to play this car game called Lotus and Prince of Persia.
When I first came to Nairobi, life here seemed too fast for me as a complete contrast from Nakuru where I had just finished campus … For a while, I thought I wouldn’t survive. I remember one time In CBD wondering why everyone is so serious and always in a hurry in Nairobi.
2. What do you love about Nairobi?
The variety of cultures, all different tribes and races, religions and traditions, coming together to create something. The cosmopolitan nature and the weather makes it the best city to live in Africa. The art scene. Nairobi has endless offerings in terms of delicious foods.
The pace and passion to work hard, and make things happen. There is always something big happening from new apps, music, movies, international brands, new clubs …There is always potential for something new going on around town.
The tech scene here is huge with huge potential for e-commerce. Nairobi is definitely the ideal place to grow a career and network.
- What would you change about Nairobi?
The maddening traffic: the frustration and all the wasted hours in traffic. With around two hours of commute each day, I lose almost a whole day in traffic in just two weeks. Overcrowding in the city is the major cause of all the problems in the city. I’d put measures to ensure more people live and work outside Nairobi.
In terms of technology, I would love to see internet in all homes for easy access to information. Most tech based industries are not growing due to the low internet penetration and lack of trust.
- As a professional how is it working in Nairobi? Is Nairobi open to what you do or what could be better?
Working in a renown tech/digital environment means opportunities are always presenting themselves. To survive in Nairobi as a professional means you have to be always aggressive to make the best out of the opportunities. As a techie and online influencer, Nairobi happens to be perfect place since I get to meet people with similar interests, attend events and seminars ….
Working in the tech/e-commerce/digital field means not many people will know what I do exactly. Many people still don’t trust anything “online” especially when it involves the exchange of money at some point. I like the fact that you can walk in Nairobi with all your money in your M-PESA account and do all transactions with your phone but beyond that, there is a lot of awareness that needs to be done.
I believe Nairobi is the perfect place for someone in my field.
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?
This is not an easy question but let me say Nairobi is the doorstep of one of the most beautiful countries, with amazing national parks, beaches and other attractions. Nairobi itself has a National Park, National Museum and Nairobi also happens to be the entertainment hub in the region with a very vibrant nightlife.
And of course I’d talk about ugali and nyama choma, tusker, the excellent weather, mobile money and the phenomenon matatu culture.