Nairobi, for Today

Picture by Charles Nyiha

have had many homes. Homes that have been people, homes that have been dreams,
others that have been vice, others that have been chapels, and others still, that have
been Nairobi.

am sitting somewhere, watching Nairobi.

is a man waking up early…maybe in Kibera, maybe in Kawangware. He is wearing
dark green trousers that are too big for him. His shirt is creamish, and he
wears beat-up shoes. He will talk about politics a lot today, half-informed,
dogmatic quips. He will see a lady he likes, smile and she will smile back;
today she will smile back. Maybe they will be by the roast-maize stand. Maybe
they will be by the newspaper stand. He will go back to selling clothes, but
for that moment, when she smiles, he will be fully there, there where she is. 

is a group of girls, and sometimes boys. They are maybe of Nairobi’s middle
class. They are excited folk, some with big dreams, some okay with status quo but
they value each other more than anything else. They take selfies with
picture-perfect eyebrows and red lips, in cool restaurants and colourful events.
Their minds are in the herd, but they are happy herds.

is a photographer, revelling in this alternative lifestyle of his. He has
interesting hair, a green flowered shirt and yellow pants. He has friends who
remind me of 1970s University of Nairobi lecturers of English who were
revolutionaries in the darkness. His life is a profundity that gives him
joy he had no idea could form part of human experience.

is a boy whose name I don’t know, sitting in a matatu, coming to town from Eastlands.
Life has been heavy on him, but he looks out of the window with eyes of sadness
and woundedness and hope and little delights, and he swears he will make something of
himself. He loves his mother, too.

is an old white man in a big Anglican church. His hands are shaking terribly
but he is always here, fifteen minutes before the service, sitting right there
under the candelabrum. I know nothing more about him.

here I am, a happy loner, more by nature than by design. I know if I look at
the mirror I will see what Nairobi has given me. I can see the many faces of the
city in me. Ambition; purpose; pride; joy; depth; lessons learned.

are the robberies and the insecurity; the urgency for money and the
restlessness, the class stratification and traffic jam, and I could tell you
about these. But it is a nice Sunday evening, and I am happy with Nairobi. See,
I am home.



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