Every Wednesday we have our Man Around Nairobi segment where we meet the men who live, work or play in Nairobi. Naftali Thaithi is our Man Around Nairobi. Naftali Thaithi is a 30-year-old Rotarian, Founder @ELPGolf, Car enthusiast, Superbike Racer and a PR/Communication HOD at Tangazoletu Limited. He is a good-natured person with a golden heart. He says he knows nothing, Jon Snow. Naftali says he has no special talents and he is only passionately curious about everything.
1. Did you grow up in Nairobi?
No, I didn’t grow up in Nairobi. I spent 0-6 years in Ndima, Nyeri. My dad worked for KTDA and my mum was a teacher at DEB Mathira School. My parents later bought land, built and settled in Gatina Village, Gatundu (the last village next to the Aberdares Forest Range) and that’s where I grew up. I spent my first night in Nairobi in 2004 when I came here to join college.
Life at Ngara Men’s Hostel, where I started out was similar to high school. It however had certain levels of freedom and responsibility. I had read and researched about Nairobi though so I didn’t have culture shock. After my classes, which used to be from 8 am to noon, I’d pick a direction and walk there. I discovered every nook and cranny of Langata, South B, South C, Hurlingham, Lavington, Kibera etc on foot. I’d just walk till 5 pm then head back to the hostels. I’ll however admit being mugged and nearly carjacked scarred me quite a bit, but I have survived, so far :-).
2. What do you love about Nairobi?
Many opportunities are available. You don’t need academic papers to ‘make it’. You just have to be passionate about something, pursue it, be prepared for any opportunity that comes your way and jump on it/them! I have also learnt that you don’t need to invoke your family name to be anyone in this city. Be your own person, work hard and you’ll get somewhere.
3. What would you change about Nairobi?
This city needs compassion.
90% of this city is made up of people who have been through pretty hard times and that pain has numbed their hearts. 90% of the people in Nairobi don’t feel. Life has very little to no value in this city. We need to feel more. We need to learn again what it means to be our brother’s and sister’s keeper. We need to be kind to people who can never give us anything back. We need to learn to be courteous on the roads, and in our offices as we walk. We can start valuing someone else’s life more than ours and develop a “sense” of compassion. That’s what we need to fight graft, and crime, keep our environment clean and conduct business with integrity.
4. As a professional how is it working in Nairobi? Is Nairobi open to what you do or what could be better?
I live by the mantra, “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.”
I will soon be getting a diploma in IT but I have 10 years of working experience in this city as a college dropout. I have just taken the opportunities that have come my way. I have been sustained by the grace of God, a spotless track record, a work ethic and a passion for knowledge. I have learnt that I know nothing and every day, I read and acquire mountains of knowledge either in my sphere of influence and everything in between.
Be passionate about what you do, learn and become. There are many opportunities in Nairobi, you just have to be ready for when they knock on your door. Victory favours the prepared.
Update:Naftali graduated with a Bachelor of Science in International Business Administration in Marketing in 2022.
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?
I’d ask them to get to know the people. There are quite a few gems around. Those gems are the ones that make, will continue to make and heal Nairobi.
Karura Forest… Before land grabbers grab the shit out of it!
Sonford Fish and chips… For greasy Kuku porno and fries!
If you would like to interact with Naftali you can find him on Twitter at @nafterli.
Potentash Founder. A creative writer. The Managing Editor at Potentash. Passionate about telling African stories and stories about the inclusion of minorities. Find me at email@example.com.
“We're all stories, in the end.” ― Steven Moffat