Today’s Man Around Nairobi is Larry Asego. Larry Asego is a radio show host on Classic 105 and he’s worked in media for close to 10 years both TV and Radio. He’s a former rugby player and rugby fanatic. He loves sports in general, football, motor-cross, and cricket; basically, anything that requires support at a loud volume. Larry is a photographer, with a particular interest in insect and wildlife photography. He is also a lecturer of French at Riara University and a student as well pursuing a Doctoral Degree in Security Studies – Counter-terrorism. Larry is a communication expert and an event organizer. A lover of life.
1. Did you grow up in Nairobi?
Yes, I did. I grew up in Kibera, an amazing place actually. Life is vibrant, the place never sleeps and there’s always something to discuss. Ayany, Olympic, Fort Jesus, Makina, DC, Gatwekera, Kianda, Lindi, Line Saba, Kisumu Dogo and so many other places, I mean the place is busier than Amsterdam. Yeah of course there’s the title of “Biggest slum in Africa” but what people forget is that in that slum there are lives that are intertwined and the kadogo economy makes everyone know everyone.
I grew up in a community set up where neighbours knew each other and they had the right to punish anyone and report to their parents later. TV used to “start” at 4pm so the whole day we were pretty much outside keeping ourselves busy. We made our own toys from wire hangers or cardboard boxes or milk cartons or even recycled polythene bags (jwala). Patrick Njiru and Shekha Metta were our heroes. 10 cents made sense, Patco was a Christmas treat, and chapos were a Sunday delicacy. VHS cassettes were exchanged whenever a movie came out, what’s not to like?
Roast maize na pilipili was awesome and mutura was unadulterated. Well water was always a problem and we had more “mtungis” than books at home, come to think of it how come that guy who sells water always had water and the house next to his didn’t? We took turns waiting for running water in the taps at midnight and still go to school at 6 am. Growing up in Kibra has definitely influenced the kind of person I am today, and I mean that positively. I learnt not to take anything for granted, I learned the importance of family and community and I learned that life isn’t always about having everything, it’s actually about making do with what you have and striving for more. And most importantly I learnt how not to be a spoilt brat.
What do you love about Nairobi?
Nairobi is a city that is alive. The people and places are amazing if you slow down just enough to appreciate it. The views are amazing for anyone with a camera. We’re always busy, there’s always movement, but even amidst all that “confusion” is some order. It’s a place where stories emerge every day. Nairobi is a proper cosmopolitan experience, save for the temporary political madness.
As for my radio job Nairobi is a city that offers so much to talk about, so much to discuss, the forums are animated and at times borderline brutal and cutthroat. It keeps you on toes I suppose.
What would you change about Nairobi?
Traffic and trash.
If you want to learn patience then try driving in Nairobi traffic that just doesn’t seem to stop. It’s like every hour is rush hour. I can’t stand traffic, and worse still not seeing why there’s traffic in the first place. Overlappers should be shot.
The filth in Nairobi is sad because it’s something that is quite manageable I think. We just have a bad culture of littering. I mean why would you throw a soda bottle or a yoghurt pack out your moving car window instead of just waiting till the next stop? I mean you’re not consuming any extra fuel by leaving it there. Maybe people who litter should also be shot.
As a professional how is it working in Nairobi? Is Nairobi open to what you do or what could be better?
Working in Nairobi is life in the fast lane. Competition is fierce and you’d better be up to scratch or you fall by the wayside. Great minds, entrepreneurial minds, there’s always someone thinking of the next thing. Opportunities do present themselves, but at times the red tape makes it difficult for people to go far. If for instance, you’re a photographer, you’ll readily be harassed by county askaris for “suspicious terrorist” activity and you just want to document an awesome scene. So if you can make it easy for me to be enterprising I definitely will be. Make it affordable for me to do business and we will both grow. I think people aren’t always looking for handouts, but for the opportunity to earn a decent living.
As a radio host, I like it. When you leave the studio you get to meet people who are quite friendly and they will share something personal with you even if they really don’t know you if you are approachable.
When it comes to events as well, Nairobi has plenty to offer. This I’d say is also good, not only because you get something to talk about, but also because you get to attend some amazing functions whether covering the event for radio or just as a fan. I get to meet many listeners at these events and that’s always pretty cool.
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?
Nairobi National Park, the National Museum and Nairobi Night Life. That should make things interesting.
Why would I need to explain the National Park, I mean it’s the only one within a city in the world. That’s reason enough.
As for the Nairobi National Museum, we not only have the best displays in the world, but you also have one of the oldest evidence of early man there, the Turkana Boy. The variety of birds and animal species on display is a sight to behold. I get excited anytime I walk in there, even if I’ve been severally. You get lost in a different world while in the museum. We have the widest collection of insect species in the region. The bank of knowledge is a haven for anyone.
Night Life. Well, who doesn’t want to relax and discover the nightlife? The energy, the lights, the music, the drinks, the fun. Shouldn’t this be mandatory?
If you would like to interact with Larry you can find him on Twitter at @LarryAsego.