It’s Wednesday and time for our Man around Nairobi segment where we meet the men who work, live and make Nairobi their playground. Today’s Man Around Nairobi is Chiira Maina. Chiira Maina says he is a student of the world. He writes on the Internet and considers the Internet his playground.
1. Did you grow up in Nairobi?
I grew up all over the country. No, really it was in just four places that are far-flung from each other but all of them hold dear memories. I was born in Nyeri where I lived with my folks for about two years until my mum had to go and work somewhere past Eldoret. So we moved there and it is where I supposedly learnt my first Swahili words. I have vivid memories of the maize plantations and the oil depot in Eldoret. We then moved to Voi where I started my schooling & improved my Swahili. Then we moved to Githurai (yes, that Githurai they talk about badly on the Internet) where everything else happened in between growing up and finishing my education.
2. What do you love about Nairobi?
I love Nairobi because of the jacaranda trees, the hidden places that are in plain sight and the cosmopolitan nature that still has hints of upcountry. It is a mix unlike any other; fast when it needs to be, slow when it is appropriate.
3. What would you change about Nairobi?
The traffic. Not as horrendous as our neighbouring countries’ capital cities but we do need to fix it.
Add to that, the drainage especially when it rains and then the sewers burst. The other half of Nairobi (Nairobi Half-Life, the movie) will soon overcome us if the employment issue is not fixed.
Linked to the second point above is also the resulting mushrooming of the concrete jungle. We should be able to have controlled development.
Our public transport is also another nightmare that needs help. Just someone to get it organized.
4. As a professional how is it working in Nairobi? Is Nairobi open to what you do or what could be better?
Working in Nairobi is indescribable. I work in advertising so there are days you will work with a multinational that will import & impart knowledge. Some days you will work with an SME that is setting out on its marketing journey. On other days you will work with companies in between. It is a mix of everything. Nairobi is very much open to opportunities though there is so much more that could be done if people fully embraced them. The cautious nature of Nairobians is because the very same Nairobians are very slick with their words.
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?
Three things that make Nairobi unique:
Local cuisine. I don’t know where I would start with this but we would find a way to go about it.
Sight-seeing. Nairobi is a mix of history & nature all within a very small radius. Start off with Karura, pass by the National Museum, Nairobi Gallery, Kenya National Archives, Nairobi National Park and finally the Oloolua Nature Trail probably for camping/overnight stay.
A night out in Nairobi. Do the full stretch from Nairobi West, Lang’ata, Ngong Road, and finally Westlands. Mayai boiro (boiled eggs) plus smokies with lots of kachumbari in the morning as the sun peeks out.
You can interact with Chiira Maina on his Twitter handle @Chiira.