What you need to know:
- But for all that is broken, there is also a lot that works for us.
- Our social scene is worth writing about. Our Nairobi skies are so wide open that even July herself cannot keep a sunny day away from this city for too long.
- We have the Expressway, never mind that we are abusing its intent.
There are many things that are broken in our beautiful Nairobi, the city in the sun, the city where I live.
If you didn’t already know them then you heard them articulated as manifesto agendas last Monday, when the two cowboys that are starring in the madhouse that is the Nairobi governorship had that debate.
I will tell you this – if charisma is what earned a cowboy my vote, then you already know which rodeo I will be riding.
Anyway, a lot is broken in Nairobi: motor traffic is an endless chock-a-block.
The cost of living is headed into the stratosphere. Urban poverty still bites the hardest.
Parts of the city don’t have running water in their taps or have their garbage collected because these basic services are run by you-know-who.
I could go on. But I won’t. I can already feel the energy of this story turning as bleak as our beautiful city.
I must mention, though, that one of my pet peeves of Nairobi is that the Chinese are taking over our residential skylines.
Poorly-built high-rises with apartments the size of shoeboxes are mushrooming at every corner.
But for all that is broken, there is also a lot that works for us.
We have the Expressway, never mind that we are abusing its intent.
We are still the only capital city in the world with a national park smack in its belly button.
Our social scene is worth writing about. Our Nairobi skies are so wide open that even July herself cannot keep a sunny day away from this city for too long.
And for me, as an urban mother and wife, one thing I love most about Nairobi is that we have dependable domestic care most of us can afford.
I don’t take this for granted. Our house helps are the levers about which our lives as urban mums hinge.
I am a mother to two toddlers. Then there is that handsome man whose last name I took up.
I cannot manage these three toddlers (he-he) while managing what they will eat, the clean clothes they will wear, and their daily routines all while managing myself and my career.
Something will have to give, and I don’t want it to be my sanity and my work.
I need our house help. I do. I probably need her far more than she needs me.
We have friends who live in cities abroad, in those First World Countries we see on Netflix.
The ones with picturesque neighbourhoods with maisonettes that look exactly the same, the ones with a vibrant cosmopolitan city, the ones with automated public systems that run like a Patek Philippe watch.
Yet for everything that is working in their cities they do not have domestic care that is within their reach.
Hiring a nanny is like hiring a professional consultant – you pay for it with a pint of blood and she will bill you by the hour.
And she is only babysitting the kids but will not mop down the living room or duster up the kitchen, these are extra services with an extra billable rate.
This is what my friend who lives in the UK tells me, she is a mother like me with a full-time job in tech.
‘I am making much more money than I would in a similar position here. Our plan is to put in the hard work now, make the sacrifices, so we can retire early in our 40s and come back to Kenya.’
In the morning, she and her husband will leave home with their little ones.
They will drop their son off at daycare and their daughter at kindergarten.
Daycare takes the kids who are not going to school, school takes the ones who are no longer in diapers – both are within walking distance from their home.
Kids sorted and off they go to the train station to take the Tube to London where they both work. A productive day mostly.
They leave work by 4p.m to collect the kids. They all get home: she goes straight into the kitchen to begin slicing and dicing and boiling dinner while her husband wrestles with the kids for bath time and homework.
They do this Monday to Friday, rinse and repeat.
I don’t know when she and her husband have time to knock back some drinks and dance to Nigerian music in a nightclub until dawn, then nurse a nasty hangover the next day.
Or when she can kill the afternoon hanging out with her girlfriends. Did I mention that the sun there is out only three days a year?
I often think to myself, ‘If this is the cost of a city where nothing is broken, then let me be content with the Chinese and the eyesores they are making of our skylines.’
@_craftit; [email protected]