Urban legend

Keep walkingNairobi, Nairobbery, they say. One of those places you’d never want to visit.

Except that you do, because there’s a buzz about this place and stuff happening like nowhere else on the continent: the developers and innovators building ‘silicon savannah’; the newspapers and corporations making this the bolshy media and business capital of East Africa; the donor money settling in offices here, trailing the idealistic and the cunning behind.

This is no hilly Kampala with her jovial motorbike-taxi drivers, or Dar es Salaam with her Indian bingo clubs and beach bars. This beast of a city has everything in more extreme measures: more choking traffic, more crime, more high-rise buildings and more low-rise shanty towns and all the problems they bring. But also more choice: more shopping malls and Starbucks-style café chains; and more clean-cut businesspeople striding its downtown streets and drinkers populating its terraces, all smattering their phone conversations with crisply-spoken English.

I feel – at least here, in its central business district – halfway between Africa and somewhere else (where?). Familiarity with the immediate surroundings gently softens the paranoia fed large by its forbidding reputation, and I suddenly realise you can spend a day in this city, with only a few people shouting mzungu at you, and that this place is actually even – dare I say it? – liveable.

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5 thoughts on “Urban legend

  1. No button, you know what I want to press … I like.

    • Biche says:

      Me too! You did a great job of capturing the spirits of Kampla, Dar, and Nairobi.

      “I feel – at least here, in its central business district – halfway between Africa and somewhere else (where?).” — I have always tried to express this idea to people. It really does feel like the best of both worlds for me.

      It took me a long time to fall in love with Nairobi, but when I did, I fell in love hard! 🙂

  2. patushka says:

    Thank you, Biche! Now that I read this back – I’m in Europe now – I’m getting itchy feet for these places again… hope to make it back soon!

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