Today our Man Around Nairobi is Amos Rono. Amos Kiptoo Rono is a New Media Specialist at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi. He is also a farmer and a wildlife photographer. He loves gadgets and is an enthusiast for technology and wildlife. You can find some of his pictures on his blog here.
- Did you grow up in Nairobi?
I grew up in Nandi Hills and I studied mostly in Kericho. Growing up in Nandi Hills was great. My late father used to work for the British, they owned and still own Eastern Produce Kenya (EPK Ltd) a multinational that grows and produces tea for export. Growing up there was a learning experience daily, my dad was a disciplinarian, and I believe it was instilled in him by the Brits. Everything was cultured, timed and precision was the order of the day.
I learned a lot with that kind of discipline, it helped me a great deal when I moved schools to Kericho, my first experience in boarding school. Later on, I moved over to Kericho High School. High School was epic! Playing basketball for a straight 4 years, denied playing in the Nationals twice by Laser Hill and St. Patrick’s Iten, our biggest rivals at the time. High school gave me the aggression to be 1. A priest and 2. Join the military! None happened, the latter was because of a girl!
Coming to Nairobi was a whole different ball game. The discipline from my beginnings anchored my adaptation while settling in Nairobi. It made me land a job at Kenya Wildlife Service at 19. The drive was merely my mourning towards my father’s passing while in high school. Ever since his passing, my zeal towards success has been unwavering, he would have been proud of me I think, or not, nothing impressed him, just raw perfection.
2. What do you love about Nairobi?
Nairobi is not for the weak or the lazy. I love Nairobi because of the diversity and adventure it possesses. Nairobi has trained me to strive for excellence, and yearn for more. Reminds me of when I landed in Nairobi for the first time in 2005. There was so much going on. The moment I stepped foot at the Ambassador stage right from the village that was an experience in itself.
The farmer in me was inspired by Nairobi, let alone my father who was a serious tea farmer. I picked a lot from him.
The other aspect of Nairobi that I love is the Nairobi National Park. The one city in the world that has a National Park within its confines! The one place and some other fine places like the Karura Forest that gives you serenity and peace away from our daily hassles. These places give me a lot of peace; I take time with my family to go there. I also use these spaces for a lot of my wildlife and scenic photography.
3. What would you change about Nairobi?
I would have more green parks, more trees, more grass and fewer cars. I love green; Nairobi needs a breath of fresh air!
For farming, Nairobi needs to do away with cartels controlling farm produce. These cartels hide in the veil of brokers. I would encourage more people to do more urban farming and form small cooperative groups and sell their produce together, cutting out brokers.
4. As a professional how is it working in Nairobi? Is Nairobi open to what you do or what could be better?
Nairobi is cutthroat. As much as I enjoy working in Nairobi, it makes you a slave to corporate lifestyles. I have become accustomed to it and now I’m able to work on my hobby which is farming. It was a worthy choice from being an armchair farmer to an actual practical farmer, a good combination with my ardent love for photography.
As mentioned earlier, farming isn’t easy, especially the marketing bit. You can have all the tech but you may never sell, or sell at throw-away prices. The misconception we have is that there’s a ready market, but there isn’t, you will realize that when you have your ton of tomatoes and you have nowhere to sell other than have a boot sale! You just have to keep trying until you find the right people to buy from you. My wife and I have tried to diversify and venture into other farming products. Nairobi has immense opportunities for anyone seeking to explore them.
- 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?
Karura forest bike riding and excursion.-They will truly appreciate Nairobi’s breathtaking forest trails. Karura forest has a magic touch for anyone who visits it!
If UAP Old Mutual would agree to take us atop their tower and overlook the city that would be great.
Yes, to the Nairobi National Park and The Nairobi Safari Walk. The two places allow you to interact with wildlife at 6 am in the morning.
If you would like to interact with Amos on Twitter find him at @amosrono and you can also find him on Instagram at @KiptooRono.
Man Around Nairobi: Charles Bodo