Are you a Kenyan or a tourist who plans to travel or relocate to Nairobi? Well, there are a few things you need to know before you make the big step into the big city. Depending on how you look at it, this is neither life threatening information nor a thoroughly researched document. If you are looking for that, Google is your friend.
Nairobi has a very unique mode of public transport commonly known as matatus. You will get distracted (or impressed) by the loud music and the graffiti but please keep your eyes on your luggage and your pockets. There are very well mannered men and women (emphasis intentional) who make a living out of your living. When you get to your destination, always remember the-left-foot-down-first-rule. Most matatus will not stop completely so you need to alight with your left foot first to maintain your balance in case the vehicle moves while you are still midair.
There are many investment opportunities in Nairobi too. Be careful of “investment groups” that move cards around in populated city corners and ask you to guess where a certain card has moved to. These guys have a lot of experience and know the best seasons to entice you to “invest”. Often, you will be more vulnerable during Christmas and back to school season in January. You will be offered “an opportunity” to multiply your cash in a second. There are different packages for different markets. Some will even offer to pray for your money multiply right before your eyes! In the end only your sorrows will be multiplied.
Don’t eat anything offered to you by a stranger. No matter how pretty or handsome they look or how hungry you maybe, please say no. Many have been victims of these “acts of kindness” and have woken up days later with empty pockets without a recollection of events beyond the sweet they were given by a seemingly generous passenger.
Don’t think with your heart in Nairobi. You will come across decent women who have heart breaking stories and men who will even shed a tear for you to give them some money for transport lunch or claiming to have been robbed. You are the one being robbed. Be in the same spot the following day and you will meet these actors and actresses in the same need. These days they have recruited young men who want sponsorship to go to driving schools and schools kids who are raising money for certain humanitarian events.
If you like having a good time, Nairobi has some of the best hangouts. Whatever you do, don’t leave your drink unattended. Yes, even that pretty lady with a “to die for” smile across the bar cannot be trusted. Your drink will be spiked and the entire nation will watch you on the evening news making incoherent pleas for your passport.
Be careful who you ask for directions in Nairobi. Some people will show you the direction to your misfortune. Walk into a shop and ask the attendant to assist you. Watchmen are also trustworthy but that is soon changing as they too have seen the potential in this untapped market. If you are lost act like a mwenyeji. Otherwise, “helpful god sent angels” will appear to you in your hour of need.
If you have to be out at night, stay in well-lit streets and environments. Refrain from using your phone while walking. If you can, don’t use your phone at all at night. If you have to, stop somewhere secure, make your calls then wait a while to make sure you don’t have an audience before you continue with your errands. Many have “lost ground” and found themselves on the ground with empty pockets and aching neck because they were not conscious of their environment.
Security personnel can also be a source of insecurity. Whatever you do, stay clear of the security forces known as the City council askaris. They are known to be ruthless, reckless and walk in masses like high school outfits. They will stop at nothing if you are the target. If you fall victim to these guys stay calm and plead your innocence. God be with you.
Nairobi is a great city. There are great people and places here but there are a few bad ones too. Prepare to meet both. Tell the world about the good, I have already done the bad, well a few of the common ones.
Welcome to Nairobi, the green city in the sun.