Every Wednesday we run a segment called Man around Nairobi. Today we feature Gerald Langiri an actor. Gerald Langiri is an award-winning Kenyan actor and casting director. He is well known for his roles as Harrison in House of Lungula, Joseph in Fundimentals and as the commissioner in Santalal just to mention but a few roles in his prolific career.
1. Did you grow up in Nairobi?
I grew up in two cities. I was born and raised in Mombasa for half of my life. I have lived and I am still living the other half in Nairobi although Mombasa is still home and my birthplace and where I go for holidays. I came to live in Nairobi when I was 11 years. It was about the same time my mum got a transfer from Mombasa to Nairobi. Previously we would come to Nairobi to visit our cousins.
Starting life in Nairobi for me was exciting and yet confusing. There is a huge culture change between the two cities of Mombasa and Nairobi…It’s almost as if you have moved to a different country all together. The Swahili (sheng/swanglish) is obviously different from the coastal one. The way of life and how everyone is always in a hurry to go nowhere in particular. The socialization and interaction of people in Nairobi is a bit different. Everyone seems to be minding their own business while in Mombasa you’d get into a matatu for instance and could easily strike up a conversation with the next person. Then of course the segregation of people by where you live, the rich vs the poor(ubabini vs ghetto). Mombasa didn’t have that when I was growing up. There wasn’t rich vs poor par say. Even though you could tell someone was rich from how they dressed and the house they lived in, at the end of the day, the rich kids and poor kids would still play football in the evening together, interact and socialize and perhaps even attend the same school. The matatu culture was something to look forward in Nairobi though. The graffiti, and the loud music were an interesting mix. The tall buildings were also something different.
2. What do you love about Nairobi?
Well, now that I have lived in Nairobi for a long time and gotten used to the place and can actually call myself Nairobian, I love the busy-paced life that Nairobi brings. The fashion scene and sense. The diversity of the people. The clubbing scene is also really good. The opportunities that it also presents. The people aren’t bad as well once you get to know them and I am happy to have made many new friends in Nairobi. No more culture shocks lol.
3. What would you change about Nairobi?
The traffic I guess but that comes with the territory of a busy city. The insecurity and the fact that Nairobi has been painted as Nairobbery. The way of life has really become expensive too.
4. As a professional how is it working in Nairobi? Is Nairobi open to what you do or what could be better?
Well as an actor, Nairobi is the place to be simply because this is the central hub of 98% of productions being churned out in Kenya. Nairobi very well compliments what I do as an actor. It is a very artsy city with many people who understand art and appreciate art. You can make a living out of art in Nairobi.
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?
The weather, however confusing and unpredictable it may be, Nairobi’s weather is really amazing. They call it the city under the sun for a reason. Nairobi has also grown in terms of development, infrastructure and technology, so any tourist (assuming they are from a 1st world country) would fit right in and get comfortable. We have lovely parks (animal parks and recreational parks).
To find out more about Gerald you can check out his website geraldlangiri.com or chat with him on Twitter @glangiri.