Monday, September 15, 2008

Nairobi’s not so bad after all…

OK, I have a bad attitude towards Nairobi. Historically I haven’t had any particularly good experiences with being in Nairobi. After all, my first night in Nairobi was spent running away from shady men in the street and in a hostel that ended up more like a giant brothel, dodging cockroaches with my suitcases barricading the door so that no one could break in. But I still think I’m unfairly dissing on it. I bet that the way Tanzanians talk about Kenya has also seeped into me. During the British colonial period, Kenya was given lots of attention and resources while Tanzania was completely neglected. Kenya also had a much more violent independence, Mau Mau uprising, and a more free-market/capitalist/fend-for-yourself post-colonial period. Tanzanians frequently will tell me that they think Kenyans are rude, in a rush, and don’t speak proper Kiswahili. Underlying all those sentiments is probably an element of bitterness about Kenya’s attention from the UK and their English fluency.


After writing my previous blog entry about being stranded in Nairobi, I had a perfectly lovely day in the city center. I tried to load Kenyan Zain cell phone vouchers to my Tanzanian Zain sim card – which didn’t work – but two really nice women worked with me for an hour to try to figure it out. I went to an internet café and a phone booth without any other wazungu in sight. I also found a wholesale wood crafts store and bought up a collection of beaded hand-carved bowls and spoons. Approximate Air had put us up in the Hilton Nairobi, so I spent the remainder of the evening swimming, in their sauna, and eating ceviche and fresh salad greens in their dinner buffet.


Though I would still certainly avoid being out on the streets at night.

Not a bad day in Nairobi after all. In fact, it was quite enjoyable.

Thanks, Nairobi!

2 comments:

kadebe said...

Hi Sophy. Thanks for the insights you bring to us all via your Blog. Just wanted to let you know that,as a Tanzanian, i take exception to your comment that: "Underlying all those sentiments is probably an element of bitterness about Kenya’s attention from the UK and their English fluency.". I think this is ill informed,you see though there may be rivalry between Kenya and Tanzania,it is much more of a "sibling rivarly"...much the same way as there is rivarly between Australia and Newzealand. Or the USA and Canada. I thinking using the word "bitterness" is a bit severe,unfotunate and ill-informed. Apart from that tunashukuru kwa Blogu lako (p.s. on your Header - the proper expression with the Swahili would be just starting with "Karibu (welcome)" not "you are Karibu".As it is it does not make any sense.
Thanks, Majaliwa

kadebe said...

To follow up on the previous comment.Just wanted to encourage you to check out a Swa-English Blog i am attempting at: http://wachumi.blogspot.com/. Please feel to email me (mnk.mchawala@gmail.com)if the need arises. Asante sana,
Majaliwa