Starting this Wednesday I will be having a segment called Man around Nairobi. This segment will appear every Wednesday. For the inaugural one, I have one of my favourite tweeps who is a photographer Samir Dave.
Samir says that he tells people that he is a wanderlust hobo with an affinity for sunrises, sunsets and good whisky. However, he is a corporate slave-based out of Nairobi, Kenya but with his mind set on having as many adventures as his body will allow.
1. Did you grow up in Nairobi?
I was born and raised in Mombasa, which just like any coastal town, was filled with its good days and better days. My school days were spent looking forward to relaxing by the beach or climbing baobab trees to look for baobab pods (mabuyu) to eat. As I got older, I spent a lot of my time between high school, the Mombasa Sports Club and my parents’ catering business where I helped most nights.
I moved to Nairobi in 2000 with the prospect of studying and working – I had misjudged the speed of this town. In six months, I had been sucked into the whirlwind of corporate life, studying was put off.
2. What do you love about Nairobi?
I feel this is an unfair question because there is a lot I love about Nairobi. From its energy to its vibrancy, from her diversity to how cosmopolitan she is, from how aggressive she is to how accommodating her residents are – I love everything about her.
3. What would you change about Nairobi?
Nairobi has grown exponentially creating jobs and business opportunities for many people. However, one thing was overlooked and it will be more difficult to slot in if the city keeps growing at the rate it is. Public transport. It is crucial for us to have public transport that is reliable, affordable and most of all accessible from all parts of the city. The Mayor of Bogota said something that I hope will come true for Nairobi and Kenya someday: An advanced country is not where even poor people have cars, an advanced country is where even the rich use public transport.
4. As a professional how is it working in Nairobi? Is Nairobi open to what you do or what could be better?
Nairobi is a world-class city. It is ripe for development and the only way you can fail here is if you did not work hard enough to achieve your dream. I love the fast-paced nature of this city which is echoed in the millions of people working here.
5. If you had a tourist friend coming in from outside the country what three things would you say to sell them the idea that Nairobi is worth visiting?
In my view, any city is only as good as her inhabitants. The first thing I would ask my tourist friend is to immerse themselves into the daily life of Nairobians – either catch a soccer or rugby game or head over to a popular nyama choma joint to share a beer and mingle.
Secondly, no trip to Nairobi is complete without walking around the CBD. A lot of people find this a daunting task. As with any big city in the world, if you are street smart and know how to walk the walk and talk the talk, you will have a brilliant time getting a raw feel of the city.
Last but definitely not least, I would definitely show my friends the beauty of Nairobi as seen from the rooftops. There is an awesome and evident amalgamation of the hustle and bustle of the city and the gorgeous African skies.
Follow Samir Dave’s adventures by following him on Twitter @samdave69 and check out his blog.
Man Around Nairobi: Mutua Matheka