I was born in Nairobi, Kenya, a great city in East Africa.
We are five thousand and something feet above sea level so the air is cool and crisp, but the weather is schizophrenic because we’re smack on the Equator so the sun is closer.
You’ll be baked in direct sunlight, but we don’t need air-conditioning indoors.
We were colonised by the British until 1963 so we are (or were at least) VERY British. Hi tea, proper English, Ink pens not biros, School Uniform all round – actually uniforms for EVERYTHING!
The city is between three to five million strong. We have no minerals to speak of, so unlike many other African countries, we are Agriculture and Service industry driven…so highly educated (relatively) and rapidly computerizing.
Having said that, we have a game park that cuts across the city…read Central Park but wildlife for real, although this is not going to last.
I remember Giraffes licking windscreen wipers off windshields!
It’s a very green city when it rains, and a very yellow one when it doesn’t. Like many cities, it is cleanly divided between those who have, and those who do not…and this runs along colour lines, White and Asian on one side, and Black on the other, though Black Rich Kenyans are richer and more numerous. Strange that.
Growing up was great, we had everything you can think of, Betamax, Commodore, Eight Track, our roads were still in good shape and being newly independent, had everyone dreaming big.
Our transport system is chaotic…consists of a gazillion privately run mini-van called matatu’s that stop when they want, drive how they want and are fully pimped out.
That’s right, pimping began right here. Body Spoilers like 747s, music systems that blow windows out, television, satellite, drugs.
We don’t play cricket.
Football, Tennis and Running.
We eat copious amounts of food, our cuisine is a mix of Indian and Indigenous – we all eat it…Chickens and Goats are loved as pets, eaten as lunch.
We’re mostly, a very orderly society…no guns until recently. Now we’re heading America so where we used to walk, we know drive, and where the city used to be a pedestrian, we’re now fully suburban.
Nairobians are like City people everywhere; hurried, impatient and insular but this is only for part of the day. We drink a lot and party hard too.
Unlike South Africa though, we do not visit each other much. Very odd. Almost all our meetings occur away from our homes.
Weddings are loud colourful affairs…you really understand that we are forty-eight WHOLLY separate tribes with completely different languages, sharing a very tiny space. We’re very proud of that, and the political progress we’ve been making in the last few years.
In 1963 we were richer than Singapore, with a far better out-look…that was wasted. But watch this space.
Strange writing about home…you want to paint a picture but perhaps saying how you live in it would be more interesting! Shall attempt again tomorrow! With Photos!
-visit my poetry blog – Tomatos, Oranges and Other Fruit-