Another beautiful Wednesday and time to meet one of the men who work, live and play in Nairobi. Our Man Around Nairobi today is Yuri Baraza. Yuri Baraza is a digital marketer with a passion for bringing brands to life online space. He works as a social media manager and sports presenter at 98.4 Capital FM and previously worked as a Digital Account Manager at Ogilvy Kenya. Yuri is a ‘blogger on perpetual hiatus’ at what was once one of the most popular blogs in Kenya, and an ardent Formula 1 fan.
1. Did you grow up in Nairobi?
My early childhood was spent in South C, then we moved to Riara Road as my brother and I attended Makini School just down the road. Thereafter my late teenage years were in Kileleshwa and later Runda in my early 20s.
Each move represented a different stage in my life. South C was such a long time ago that I don’t remember any of my friends from that period in time. But it was a happy childhood. We moved to Riara Road when I was about 6 years old and lived there for about 12 years. I still keep in touch with a lot of my friends and neighbours from that time. I think those were the best years of my life to be honest. I learnt a lot of mischief in Kileleshwa in my late teens, which probably was one of the reasons why my parent thought it necessary for us to move to Runda and shortly after I left to attend university in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
2. What you love about Nairobi?
I love the vibrancy of Nairobi. People are more open to new experiences, which provide plenty of opportunities for smart entrepreneurs. Nairobians are quick to catch onto new trends. Also, if you have the right networks in Nairobi, you can get just about anything with just a few phone calls.
3. What would you change about Nairobi?
I’d love to change our mindsets. We’ve slowly become less and less caring about what happens around us. I hate the fact that we litter shamelessly and then later complain about blocked drainage. We drive like idiots na sio siri. We watch people being mugged and do nothing. We rob accident victims. What happened to our humanity?
One can’t talk about the negatives of Nairobi without talking about the traffic. I’d love to see an effective public transport system in place where we won’t all have to jump into our cars for a regular commute from the house to the office and back.
4. As a professional how is it working in the Nairobi? Is Nairobi open to what you do or what could be better?
A few years ago, pitching digital and social media to brands and corporates was like trying to convince a socialite that she can take a selfie without pouting like a bloated fish – yaani kupigia mbuzi guitar. They were very cagey back then. That has come to change with time and it can only get better from here on.
Internet access has improved tenfold over the last few years, and with 4G and affordable WiFi, one can work from anywhere. You can easily transfer documents and hold virtual meetings. I can’t imagine what we’ll be doing in the next 5 years.
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?
We are the only city in the world with a National Park. (That’s an obvious one, no?) I can actually tell you to go kiss a giraffe without insulting you.
I’d show them the colourful art scene. From fashion, accessories, live music events like the Koroga Festival which has widely been named as one of the top entertainment events in Kenya, different dining options from traditional foods at Mama Oliech to nyama choma. I’d show them some of the most creative graffiti art in Nairobi. And they’d have to buy a tote bag from Michael Soi.
I’d let them know that Nairobians are some of the most resilient people on the planet. We hustle hard and play hard and always survive despite adversity. And we always have! Nothing can put us down, whether it’s Al Shabaab or El Nino.
If you would like to interact with Yuri find him on Twitter at @ArcherMishale.