Today our Man Around Nairobi is Kelvin Njihia. Kelvin Njihia is a Lawyer and a human rights activist who believes in rule of law. He is the founder of Starehe Youth for Change, a community-based organization. Kelvin has worked as a legal assistant in I.N.Nyaribo Advocates/Afri Claims limited and served as Interim CEO of Thirdway Alliance Kenya. Kelvin will be running for Starehe Member of Parliament 2017.
- Did you grow up in Nairobi?
No. I was born in Nairobi but my mother had to take me back to Nyandarua to stay with my grandmother. Growing up in Kinangop was difficult due to the cold weather and the environment. That aside, I enjoyed growing up under the arm of my grandmother who natured me to be who I am today. She was strict and I could not afford to give an excuse for not performing in school. As an introvert, I spent my time reading or writing, and I loved day hiking alone since Aberdare Forest was in my neighbourhood.
I came back to Nairobi as a young adult to attend college and I occupied a small house in Mlango Kubwa along Juja Road. Life in the ghetto was not easy for me, especially with my naivety, the security problems, the general hygiene etc. I used to walk from Mlango Kubwa to City Centre to attend my classes, as I could not afford the fare to school. This was an experience of its own kind which I will never forget.
I used to believe that Nairobi looks like Mlango Kubwa , that Nairobi smells this way (garbage), and that the “Nairobian’s” feels this way (insecurity, gunshots etc). Later on, I could not understand why the dwellers could not climb the ladder and look for somewhere else to live until I learned that this is the only life they knew. Apart from this, I learnt many lessons in my two years there, I would spend my weekends visiting Mathare and the neighbouring ghettos. A sense of brotherhood was one of the things I acquired.
- What do you love about Nairobi?
I love Nairobi because it is a city where you will get the most delicious nyama choma served with ugali during weekends, mahindi choma etc.
In terms of work having the Judiciary Headquarters, office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Lands headquarters here I find it easy and convenient to work, attend to my duties and serve office clients efficiently.
I enjoy the diversity of Nairobi dwellers. I like traffic jams (even though they are a nuisance) because I like to people watch.
3. What would you change about Nairobi?
I would change the leadership of Nairobi. I would be the people’s servant and make sure that I change their financial condition so that Nairobians could afford basic needs like shelter, food and health.
I would also make sure that I clean the only river that passes through the city. By cleaning the Nairobi River, it would be a start in recreating the “City In The Sun” and bringing back a serene clean environment.
I would also adjust the cost of starting or setting up a business (in terms of business licenses) in order to enable more youth who are in the informal sector to make more profit and create more job opportunities for others.
4. As a professional how is it working in Nairobi? Is Nairobi open to what you do or what could be better?
As a legal trainee, I find Nairobi to be the hub of all legal/judicial processes in Kenya and most of the Eastern Africa region. I feel fulfilled despite having challenges within the field i.e. the time it takes one to be an established Advocate in the city, slow judicial processes, corruption & lack of sufficient infrastructure. This could however be improved with a proper and systematic structure in place, transparency and dedication to duty by all.
Nairobi has great potential, just by looking at the composition of people, infrastructure and its location of the town in a warm climate area. Unfortunately, there are still some major hurdles for example; Nairobi traffic is becoming unbearable. The filth, pollution, garbage and lack of any support/enforcement from the County government stop this city from going to the next level. What could be better; more efficient effective working institutions…
Nairobi has many opportunities and platforms for one to excel. As a young politician, I can be able to interact and exchange ideas with senior politicians who not only empower and encourage. I am learning from them.
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 do advise my friends coming from a foreign country to visit tourist attractions around Nairobi e.g. Nairobi National park, National Museum, The Maasai Market, Karen Blixen Museum and Coffee Gardens.
They should also visit the National Theatre and the numerous art galleries around.
They should also go visit a tea farm on the outskirts of Nairobi ( Limuru)
You can find Kelvin on Twitter @njihiakelvin. You can also check out his website.
Man Around Nairobi: Charles Kibinda