Today our Man Around Nairobi is Antony Kagiri. Antony is a PR professional in Nairobi helping to tell the stories of the brands he works for. Currently, he is the Group Corporate Affairs Manager at Dalbit Group.
- Did you grow up in Nairobi?
No, I grew up in the village. I grew up in Makwa village in Gatundu. The beauty of growing up in the village for me is the community life aspect. Everyone knows their neighbours; you celebrate your joys and share the troubles together. You know the village life when celebrating Christmas and New Years’ made a lot of sense? That is what I am talking about. Like most boys, the village version of football was my favourite game growing up. I was an expert in making the ball from polythene bags. Besides playing football we spent a lot of time swimming at the local river (or is it a stream) with my cousins as we chewed the sugarcane that grew by the riverside. The mango season was also an exciting period where we would visit each other’s shambas as we searched for the sweetest mangoes.
I am one of those guys who came to the city when I was admitted to the University. Before joining University, the only other time I came to Nairobi was to watch the set books plays at Ufungamano. Being next to the University of Nairobi, the setting was a good motivation to work harder in school to ensure I made it to the University.
Like any first-timer, finding my way around the city was a challenge in the first few days. My dad’s advice was to use Afya Centre and Central Police Station as my bearings. Afya Centre because it was near the bus stage to Thika and Central Police because it was near the University. Before I could master the directions around town, I had to learn to buy all I needed along Tom Mboya street because it was easier to locate my two bearings.
- What do you love about Nairobi?
The hope that it offers to all of us. Looking around from the hawker on the street to the white-collar guy in the office and even the young guy starting his business from a rented servant’s quarter, there is always hope that we shall make something out of our lives.
I also love the determination of our people. Out of 5 people I meet, 4 are doing something on the side besides their 8-5 job.
I also love the diversity of our people. The fusion of the different cultures gives the city a unique identity.
My job is largely about building relationships. It is always exciting to meet new people. I have come to appreciate different perspectives of looking at things and that largely enriches my worldview.
- What would you change about Nairobi?
It should be the traffic mess. Top on my mind would be expanding the main roads leading into the city and sorting the chaotic matatu scenes in the city centre. It is very frustrating when you think about the amount of time we waste in traffic in this town. Sadly, we all know what needs to be done but those we have given that mandate to do it won’t do it.
I would love to change all Kenyans to be well-meaning and not have a hidden agenda. In most cases in my line of work, it would be so much easier if people weren’t always suspicious. But I guess it has to do a lot with the society we are in today where trust and goodwill have waned. We need to go back to that.
- As a professional how is it working in Nairobi? Is Nairobi open to what you do or what could be better?
As a PR professional, there are great opportunities in my field. There are new businesses coming up every day that need our services. It is a great city.
We need to support the entrepreneurial spirit of our people. I think we could do better by making the process of starting businesses smoother. There are too many requirements and perhaps a one-stop shop where I get everything done in a day or two is what we need.
I think for us the challenge is always when you have to deal with a crisis. The number of people who want to take advantage of misfortune is huge. We need to change that as Kenyans. Secondly, in most cases, people don’t appreciate what you do until a crisis happens.
In terms of opportunities, it is a daily challenge to leverage relationships to make doing business easier. Quite a challenge yet a good way to make headway.
- 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 Safari Walk is top on the list, a game drive by the National park and perhaps early dinner at Ole Sereni as you watch the animals in the park. If I could add a fourth one, they must visit a nyama choma den for some roasted goat.
If you would like to interact with Tony you can find him on Twitter – @TonyKagiri or on Facebook.
Man Around Nairobi: John-Allan Namu