It’s Wednesday and time for Man Around Nairobi. Man Around Nairobi gives readers a chance to meet one of the men who work, live and play in Nairobi. Today we feature Akil Ahmed. Akil Ahmed (El Poet) is a Kenyan poet and entrepreneur. He is the co-founder of Alternative Agency, a young advertising agency causing ripples in the marketing industry. Akil is passionate about sports, movies, music &arts and when he grows up, he wants to be Batman.
1. Did you grow up in Nairobi?
Yes, I did. I grew up in the most crowded, bustling and polluted neighbourhoods in Nairobi, in Eastleigh. It was ever busy and 20 something years later, one cannot differentiate 8 pm and 4 am in Eastleigh. I used to be that kid riding old dilapidated tyres with two large sticks, playing ‘prikicho’, blasting firecrackers and taking care of my Grandmother. It was a lively childhood as I transitioned into a man.
2. What do you love about Nairobi?
So much actually. I always liken the current Nairobi to New York City post World War II. Development of the suburban settlements areas for the affluent, rich diversity in terms of culture, tribe and origin, economic boom and young ambitious Kenyans knocking on every door until the opportunity presents itself. More importantly, the art scene. Nairobi hosts the most diverse group of talented artists in East Africa. Culturally entrenched but with global ambitions. The Blinky Bills and Sarabis do not exist in a vacuum. The art scene keeps the City alive.
3. What would you change about Nairobi?
We are in the 21st Century. Let’s show some equality and racial/tribal sensitivity within limits of course. I would also challenge every Kenyan living in this beautiful City to rise up and go for their dreams. Above all, I would spend all the County’s money to build super highways and flyovers. This traffic is the one thing that stands between us and the major developed Cities.
4. As a professional how is it working in Nairobi? Is Nairobi open to what you do or what could be better?
As a professional, yes. Like any other global capital, I think Nairobi naturally offers its resources to the people and whoever harnesses it properly, becomes successful. As an artist and entrepreneur, Nairobi has been fair to me. Nothing comes easy, you have to take every opportunity by the scruff of the neck. It can be better though. All we need is to appreciate what makes us unique and that is diversity in terms of culture. The day every Omondi, Mwangi and Mohamed will see each other as brothers and the Akinyis, Halimas and Shirus as sisters, we would be unstoppable.
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?
– Come witness the birth of East Africa’s capital. We are living in the City’s golden age.
– The scenery above the skyscrapers is amazing
– FOOOOOOODDD!!!! You can eat almost anything. Coasterian, Somali, Indian, Thai, Brazilian, Turkish, Mexican… Oh, man!! What A Time, To Be Alive.
If you would like to interact with Akil find him on Twitter at @akilahmed_.