It’s another Wednesday and time for our Man Around Nairobi segment. Our Man Around Nairobi this week is George Murage. George Murage describes himself as a 28-year-old technology enthusiast, sales guy, and a writer at Juuchini.com. He is also a self-proclaimed car enthusiast and he enjoys spending time with family when he’s not reading books or (trying to) rebuild old vehicles into classics. He believes that ambition is priceless.
1. Did you grow up in Nairobi?
Yes, I grew up in Nairobi around the Eastlands Area – Greenfields estate to be more precise. The experience was pretty much what it is to grow up in the East side of Nairobi – most of the time was spent in school but weekends were spent riding bicycles with friends around the estate or playing ‘shake’ or riding a mng’ari around the nearby estate courts.
Growing up, we also had numerous trips to and from shagz in Central Kenya and this is something I didn’t particularly like at the time. I however would not miss out on the chance to take my daughter to see her Great-grandma, her Cucu and Guka anytime I can. It is important to have a bit of growing up in both places i.e. Nairobi and ushago.
2. What do you love about Nairobi?
Nairobi has a lot to love about it. But if I had to choose one, I’d say the thing I love most about Nairobi is that it is hard to walk in town without meeting someone you either grew up with, went to school with, or worked with in the past. I’ve travelled to a couple of places and I always miss that about Nairobi whenever I’m away. This city has a certain warmth about it.
3. What would you change about Nairobi?
Good question. I never really thought about it at length but if I was to change anything, it would be 2 things. The first would be the commute times between one side of Nairobi to another because the traffic is just so prohibitive and it makes it difficult to achieve a lot in the day or let’s just call it extremely time-consuming.
The other would be the current security situation. I find it so discouraging that a foreigner would come and get robbed in broad daylight and we’ll accept it as a ‘way of life in Nairobi’. It gives this great place a worse rep than it should have really… Giving the kawaida citizen power (and a sense of ownership) to take on crime in an above-average manner would make a big difference.
What else would I change about Nairobi?
Perhaps I’d look towards making it easier for young people to have fun and interesting things to do apart from looking forward to partying in their free time. An animal sanctuary for abused and abandoned animals maybe… I’ve grown up with a lot of pets so I have a soft spot for them.
4. As a professional how is it working in Nairobi? Is Nairobi open to what you do or what could be better?
Nairobi is an interesting place to do business because it is filled with opportunities. It is open in some aspects and not too open in some but I guess business works that way… Sometimes things work and other times, the environmental factors just won’t allow one to thrive. Nonetheless, it still is a great place to do business and is filled with opportunities.
Most of the time as a professional working in an office, you get the feeling that you can only do so much but when you hit the ground as most juacali people do is when you sort of realize the immense opportunity that exists. It would be all about finding an interesting problem and providing a solution to fill that gap for economic gain.
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?
Another good question – If they can afford it, maybe a helicopter ride and hover above Nairobi for an hour or 2. OK, seriously, Luthuli is one of these places – the hustle & bustle would confuse a foreigner and I’d love them to be exposed to the micro-business that is Grogan.
Then of course the Kitengela Hot Glass is also another place I’d advise albeit just outside Nairobi. It is one of the few places on earth where glass is air blown into different interesting ‘things’ for profit.
The third place would probably be the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. I would tell them that they have to go there between 11 am and noon when they can feed the orphaned elephants. There’s a lot of magic in that.
If you would like to interact with George you can find him on Twitter at @juuchini.
Man Around Nairobi: Michael Gathogo