Our Man Around Nairobi today is Stephen Musyoka popularly known as Syoks. Stephen Musyoka is a digital strategist who works for a digital agency in Nairobi. When not crafting and executing strategies, Syoks who also calls himself an online villager packs his bags and hits the road to satisfy his wanderlust with @roadtripke.
Did you grow up in Nairobi?
Yes, I did. I grew up in MoW in Shauri Moyo Estate, Nairobi. Growing in Shauri Moyo meant one thing… survive and move fast. You have the (notorious) Makongeni, Kaloleni, Bahati, Eastleigh and Majengo estates bordering you. Each time I read a crime story from these hoods I cringe. I know that could be a childhood friend.
Here I grew up looking up to the likes of Sophie Ikenye (BBC), Mildred Ngesa and Nicholas Omondi (if your folks had a monochrome TV you know this chap). I also had a great time growing up with chaps from Bakulutu Africa Entertainment guys who offered teens in the estate a chance to explore their musical talent. I have handful of friends who have managed to make a career out of this. Plus, some chaps at Talking Drums of Africa and Jabali Afrika who would show up in the hood once in a while.
Once in a while, we would go play football with guys from Jericho and Maringo… which wouldn’t end well. I also played basketball, I was a point guard (laughs) and rugby. I also used to love hikes and would scale Ngong hills like I am climbing a bar stool. But then life happens, and calories pile up. But I still play touch rugby with my club, Tummy Boys RFC.
What do you love about Nairobi?
The vibrancy! From the tech hubs to the downtown river road geniuses (does Nduti One Stop still operate?), the salon women at Kenyatta Market (with their style of one leg on the stool), the many drinking spots and clubs… to the crazy matatu culture. We are a tweeting city; you can order something via a tweet!
I know you were waiting for me to forget mentioning about rugby (Chuckles!). Yes, we are a hotbed of rugby entertainment thanks to our local clubs that have a rich heritage (oyyaaa Kulabu! #RFamily) and to the many players, both established and upcoming. The first African to play in the British Rugby League Edward Rombo practices law right here in Nairobi whilst the all-time World Sevens Rugby top try scorer Collins Injera is right here.
I still have a dream that we will one day host a leg of the HSBC Sevens Series. One day. THAT will be the day.
Nairobi is a hub of ideas and opportunities apart from also being a shamba la mawe. Everyone is now after a digital plan thanks to affordable internet, smartphone (and feature phones) penetration and overall growth of social media not only in Nairobi but across the country as well. I have been to some cities abroad and getting internet is a nightmare!
I also love the way corporates have embraced social media and are taking full advantage of it. We, as Nairobi can’t afford to be behind when it comes to innovation and thumbs up to everyone making this work.
What would you change about Nairobi?
Can we have more organized human beings? If we had an organized system, right from our homes to our places of work Nairobi would be a better place. It all starts with you. I know we are not robots to follow some sort of programme but we can do better! But until then, let’s enjoy overlapping in traffic. Let’s enjoy scrumming for that seat in that matatu. Let’s ignore that “Usikojoe Hapa” signage.
We need to create opportunities. We have a lot of brains out there who just need a shot. One single shot. Can we open more opportunities for jobless youths? Or at least empower them to start their own trade?
We also need to explore other means of making things work. I once did a Facebook post telling people to “spam” it with their wares. People seeking jobs, people selling flasks… All these people just need an avenue. I got some ideas and calls from people on doing that exercise in an improved way.
As a professional how is it working in Nairobi? Is Nairobi open to what you do or what could be better?
I work in the digital environment and Nairobi offers zillions of opportunities for business. Our digital agency which was nurtured at Nailab has expanded getting more clients from Kenya, across Africa and Europe. Nairobi has this cheetah generation who are hungry for success and it offers them almost everything they need.
There are challenges working in the digital space. People who say “Si your job will just be posting on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, why should I pay that amount for this job?” Such people end up taking cheap labour (Well, not throwing shade at those taking the job) but we need to respect other people’s hustles.
There are opportunities with corporates left right and centre. All you have to do is knock on that door, and it will be opened. Brand and sell yourself. Establish a relationship and give your personal best.
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?
The Hub spaces: Nailab, iHub, M-Lab etc. These places have a lot to offer.
Get on that #tembeaKenya vibe: We have a Museum, The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Nairobi National Park, Ngong Hills. There’s a lot to do under #tembeaKenya. A good thing is between all this you can squeeze a nyama choma plot and a cold one or two.