NAIrobbery: A Romantic Conman



Muthoni the Drummer Queen asked “Nai Ni ya who?” and I’m hoping that she got the answer.  If she did I would also like to know where Nairobi’s boundaries are.

Most of us do not understand the thin line between Nairobi and Nairobi outskirts, thus the counties surrounding Nairobi. We took for granted all the Geography forced on us in our curriculums.

The geography lesson for the boys was a good time to draft crush letters to the girls they met during a just concluded drama festival “funkie”.   For others it was the best time to copy-paste the Math homework that was scheduled right after the lesson. The back-benchers had time to read the Mary-Kate & Ashley, Sweet Valley High and Pace-setter novels (for some reason they were “must-reads” for girls before graduating school). And for the rest of us, it was time for the afternoon power nap.

Now these are the consequences; when a friend of mine, Amanda was first asked where she lived, she said


Coincidentally, the guy asking lives in Thika and gets curious.

‘Thika wapi? “

‘Uuumh… Thika road… ukienda nayo (along Thika road)…”

“Okay, that’s good. I live in Thika too, hapo Landless…”

“Oh nice. Kwetu ni Nguliba…”

The guy smiles. I want to roll my eyes but it’s rude. So instead I rub them and wipe off all layers of make-up.

Really? Is Nguliba in Thika?

(FYI; Nguliba is some 20km from Thika and the fares are something close to Ksh 100)

Before I can remove the speck in her eye, I realize that I have also been lying. All my friends know that I live in Nairobi.

Sometimes I lie to avoid endless chitchat with those ushago women that stop you when you are running late. Also, everyone else is saying they live in places with fancy names (Zimmerman, Runda, Karen), others with names that have meaning and faces (Umoja phase 1 and Huruma).

Where I live there are no such names. All stages are named in the Gikuyu language. (Kihunguro! Transformer-ini! Ha-darwa! Kwa- Donuti! Kia-mburi! Kia-nugu! Seventhi Dei!  Ha Iteyo! Gwa Chege! Musa! (You’re now laughing as if you live in Hurlingam).

We’ve all got to come out clean about where we live. And agree that we have to commute daily in order to get to the CBD. As soon as we all accept that our homes are not really in Nairobi, the faster we get to appreciate one thing:

You have not truly enjoyed working Nairobi until you have had that precious morning ride to work at the crack of dawn… that cheaper and faster ride to work. A few minutes to 6.00am everyone acquires supersonic speed that would make an intimidated Usain Bolt take his sgwembes back to Kingston, Jamaica.

Inasmuch as everyone is rushing, you notice things.  Maybe it’s the illusion created by the hints of daybreak radiance on people’s skin or because everyone is fresh, like … just right out of the shower.

People from our side of town look really good… especially the men. Feels like they only wear Haute couture… as in custom-made clad. Ladies too are not left behind …but I don’t want to talk about ladies today.

So yes. You notice things…

Things that could make your heart ooze with passion…

My attention was once caught by a man in the street carrying a little baby. The lucky kid was snoring on his chest and dangling her little limbs from the carrier. He was holding an umbrella with one hand and supporting her with the other.  Immediately I was struck with a temporary palilalia of “aaaaaww(s)!”

Kumbe Kenyan men can be romantic?

They are even more romantic when they don’t know you. Forget about the majorities that call in the number one morning radio show. Definitely not the  mean guy who drives a Toyota Pro(blem)-box or a matatu; the kind that never let you cross the road in front of him even when he is stuck in the traffic. I mean, he would rather touch the other car’s bumper than let you pass. Eh?!

They will never stop or slow down at the zebra crossing. Dare try! He angrily blares his horns, flashes his headlights and flips the finger. Woi!

However, there is the guy that is always kind to stop his state-of-the-art car. You know those vehicles designed for luxury and not for fuel efficiency? He even signals to the cars passing on the adjacent lane to slow down. And everyone can cross the road safely.

Oh! Halleluiah… *sigh*


Friday morning. Everyone is TGIF-ing (online) and happy that finally the weekend is here. The policemen are absent at their usual checkpoints. No worries though. Nobody is either speeding or playing loud music… all good.

A stone-throw away is the station where the bus stops, picks up passengers and leaves almost immediately. An older lady sits next to me. Three young men ascend into the bus as the last passengers. One of them sits behind me, next to a young lady.

The tout collects money from the guy then asks the girl for hers.

“Si I’ve paid you…” she blurts out “I gave you a thousand shillings and you are the one that owes me change.”

Before she can cause a scene, the tout goes back into his pockets and returns her change.

“These people love money… he was about to leave with my change and he still asking for more. Aki these conmen… Nkt!”

He responds to her in low tones and she giggles shyly. The two strangers quickly acquaint and things start getting a bit too personal. The more they talk, the gentlemen gains confidence and the lady occasionally bursts out into laughter, even snorts. I don’t blame her. In fact, I’m jealous. The guy looks like a puppy in a tuxedo. Too cute.

Anyway, our ride stops abruptly.

Heh! Makarao (traffic police)…

Everyone fidgets as they look for the seatbelts. The gentleman helps the lady with hers. He wants to help the old mama I’m sitting next to but she declines politely since her seatbelt is lying on the dirty floor. Luckily the police men do not check so our journey proceeds.

A few minutes later, the two gentlemen from the back seats stand and signal this gentleman. They all alight.

Suddenly behind me there is shuffling of feet before she lets out a sharp, shrill cry.

Everyone is startled and quickly turn their heads to see what is happening. The young lady just holds her handbag open and her lips seem to be under seizure. Everyone is perplexed.

Amidst sobs, she is finally able to mumble,

“Pesa yangu…”

The gentleman had taken advantage of the chaos when everyone was looking for their seatbelt and slit through her purse. She lost ksh.6, 000 that day.


Kweli Nairobi ina wenyewe.


Special thanks to @thephotographer and @Emwai



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