Thursday, June 9, 2011

Nairobians; their cold induced smugness

Whoever said Nairobi, Kenyan capital is the city in the sun never had in mind the cold June and coldest July. The gloomy grey cloud and mist hanging the city discounts the mantra.
Coming to think of it today morning as I woke with a cold and blocked nose, the author of the saying must have been a Briton. A colonialist. The author fresh from gloom, grey and sleet of Britain with anxiety to entice his fellow countrymen for a piece of Kenya coined the phrase.
City in the sun? That only looks good in a tourist brochure (Tell that to a Mombasani sweating in Hotness)
With barely a month in the capital I find this weather funny. The mornings are not ushered in with the sun streaking the horizons. Golden rays touching golden skies for a poetic muse.
It’s rare in this month.
Instead the cold and groping mist hangs, stifling like a fart in a hot, windless and moist room. Thick grey clouds pregnant with sinister hang the sky like an over coat from an amateur artist.
Irony? As the clouds hung thick no rain falls, the earth is dry and dusty. Being windless, the dust and the mist hang about going nowhere forlornly.
The grayness is compounded by Nairobians. They never greet. In reply to your greeting they sound short, clipped in a groan like a ram kissing a slaughter knife. There must be unwritten code somewhere that greetings make women pregnant and men’s wallet to disappear.
You pass a greeting and a Nairobian freeze waxing cold. Looks and sees through you before replying in that clipped sound facing away.
And the colder it gets as we approach July the worse they will be in public places like under the city clock at my matatu stop, which inspired this post.
As a communication student a Nairobian body language in public shows high level of discomfort; legs pressed together. Hands folded tightly. Hand bags clenched. Their eyes (Like Edvard Munch’s mural The Scream) are stiffy and ferrety when they stand still, unfocusing but still when they move suppressing anguish.
A Nairobian is unattached, lonely and alone in a queue, bus park, lift or other public places. This sucks since even glasses clink in a tray, acknowledging others.
Beating this cold stupidity
I did beat this cold madness as I type this post behind the office computer seeping hot tea.
But the madness will return at 5pm during office close time. As if stung on their butts by a scorpion my erstwhile idle mates will spring citing urgent appointments. With hurried goodbyes they slither off.
Later when is stroll home, as I do every other day, I join them at matatu queue trying hard to look serious (And ignore me)
Worst, I will dread motorist flouting traffic lights and zebra crossing while honking foolishly.  Impatient pedestrians busy pushing, shoving and stepping on my shoes like the two insolent Nairobi girls yesterday.
Hurriedly and without apology they shoved and stepped on my shoes. Ahead at a corner in Ronald Ngala Street I found the pair bending over a hawker haggling a Ksh-20-tin-coated-hearing (yawa!!)


  1. hahhaa! I like this one! you had to have studied Human Communication to read the language of Nairobians so well.

  2. That's right Nyambura i took Communication as my undergrad degree.