The folly of modern house with big windows, no grills

modern house

A modern house with wide windows.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

What you need to know:

  • I bet that within a month, those big, beautiful windows will be fitted with prison-like grills, Kenya-style. 
  • I don’t think I’d sleep a wink if the house I lived in had no bars on the windows or a perimeter wall.

Like many Kenyans, the first thought that came to mind when I saw the house that the government had built for the late Kelvin Kiptum’s wife and children, was that those windows were a burglar’s dream come true.

One quarry stone is thrown against the window and they are in, in seconds, and should the front door not open, no problem, thank you, because the windows are as wide as doorways and the thieves can easily cart away the items they steal through them.

I bet that within a month, if it hasn’t happened already, those big beautiful windows will be fitted with prison-like grills, Kenya-style.

We live in a country where you have to consider a long list of factors before doing something as necessary as constructing a house or renting one.

The first is security, followed by accessibility and other important aspects such as the availability of water and electricity. The less secure and accessible a place is, the lower the rent or the cheaper the land. You just cannot have your cake and eat it too.

Must-have deterrent

Look around and you will see that big, generous windows that let in lots of light are the in-thing now, and while developers have embraced this trend, the bars and the grills are here to stay because they do a good job of discouraging opportunistic burglars, which we have in abundance.

Another must-have deterrent is a perimeter fence, and if you have money to spare, electrified razor wire all round, alarm system and CCTV cameras. Like many Kenyans, I don’t think I’d sleep a wink if the house I lived in had no bars on the windows or a perimeter wall.

This is a valid fear that real estate developers capitalise on, therefore, on pamphlets advertising their properties, they emphasise on security elements on offer such as CCTV cameras and a perimeter wall.

The house built for Kiptum’s widow and its ‘inappropriate’ large windows, triggered a couple of truths regarding how a good number of us have been forced to embrace a way of living, that is influenced by the reaction we anticipate from those around us, a way of living that we would never consider if we were not under scrutiny, or should we be sure that others will not judge us, make assumptions about us or want something from us.

I know someone who has owned a car for years, a car that his employer, an accomplished lawyer who owns a small but well-to-do law firm, knows nothing about.

Certain pleasures

The law firm is located in a bungalow in Kilimani that was once someone’s home and has a sizeable compound, which can park several cars. But this person would rather pay the Nairobi County government Sh200 every day than park at his place of work free of charge.

“My boss will probably think that I’m stealing from him if he ever found out that I have a car,” he once explained.

As a result, when it rains, the guy gets drenched to the bone on his way to and fro where his car is parked, and during the hot season, he has to contend with the punishing heat as he walks to work, and back to his car in the evening.

Others deny themselves certain pleasures, say nice clothes, good food and holidays, to convince their extended families, (or friends) who have a habit of expecting ‘well-off’ relatives to come to their aid, that they are not doing as well as they think. It’s a sorry way to live.

Can you relate to any of this? If you can, what’s your story?