Wednesday is here and it’s time for our segment on the men who live, work, play and give Nairobi its buzz. Today our Man Around Nairobi is Ahmed Salim. Ahmed Salim is a passionate marketer and a social media enthusiast with a particular interest in community building and digital marketing. Ahmed along with other stakeholders formed Qube Ltd in 2012, a boutique digital marketing agency. He is currently the Managing Director at Qube Ltd. Outside the intense dynamics of the fast-changing digital world, Ahmed finds inspiration in his family, photography, custom t-shirt design (Fluid Tees,) travel and community causes.
1. Did you grow up in Nairobi?
Yes – I was born and brought up here in Nairobi. I was raised in Eastleigh and I was one of the things I look back to appreciate where I have come from. Sometimes I feel, it’s just me and the ones I grew up with who know best what we went through.
Growing up in Eastleigh wasn’t easy – but, when we were young we didn’t know what hard was. For me it was normal. I was happy because I didn’t spend a day hungry. I was in school, had shelter, and didn’t know anything about bills and the right person to actually know the challenge is my mum.
Eastleigh had its own culture. While growing up there – it was the same time the area started being populated by the Somalis. And the good side of this was how we lived to see a different culture come and blend. Being a Muslim it was fun practising Islam while there. Shopping became easy (cheap products through Garissa Lodge). We had a day-by-day kind of existence where we were living for today we will figure out how tomorrow will be. The flip side was when we used to get random Police “Msakos”. In the middle of the night, doors were knocked down as police searched for illegal immigrants. It happened a lot and was never talked about in the news. Your neighbour would be taken and you would never see him or her again.
The other thing – Eastleigh (along with other routes of course) had Manyanga mats that were well pimped – I recall how we (the young ones then) would have gangs (non-violent gangs) who would just want to show their presence in various spots and we would “own” a Matatu by the kind of messages we scripted inside the Matatu.
Studying while in Eastleigh was very very hard. Apart from space at home and not having a proper table to even write I recall how some of my friends and I in school would stay back in the school library to just finish what was really urgent. The rest (not so urgent) was always never done. We had a saying “freestyle” which really meant “i don’t give a f#£€”
What I miss the most are the people. We lived as family and today, I don’t even know my neighbour. What I don’t miss is the messed-up drainage system (Eastleigh was always wet. with or without rain, matope kila mahali)
If I was to do it again, I wouldn’t change a single thing. I learned a lot growing up there. It’s the foundation of who I am.
2. What do you love about Nairobi?
The chase. The Hustle. The ever fast-moving life. It’s either you make it or you make it!!! There are so many things happening – it keeps one on their toes and you must be aware to be in the loop.
How we are humble – we know we are good but we still listen to others and are willing to learn.
We are innovative and we are constantly improving.
3. What would you change about Nairobi?
Ahaa! Politics? I best not say anything here… Generally, I’d brand NAIROBI. Make it a brand internationally. A place to be, a place to be seen… How? I don’t know, yet.
4. As a professional how is it working in Nairobi? Is Nairobi open to what you do or what could be better?
It’s HARD but that’s the fun part. You know the more you do something or hustle your chances of winning are high. Nairobi is very competitive. It’s either you like it that way and show passion or you give in and go home.
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 only city in the world that has a National Park.
Gikomba market (that’s where I grew up shopping 🙂 It has been a minute though)
You can interact with Ahmed on his Twitter handle