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January 22, 2019

Autobiography of a true Nairobi resident

Last Sunday, Former Prime Minister, Raila Odinga launched his autobiography, The Flame of Freedom. As he did so, more Kenyans were encouraged to write their life experiences for historical purposes.

With the former PM being such a trendsetter, I wouldn't be surprised if more people started penning down their memoirs. The only overriding concern is that the image-conscious Nairobian may not present an accurate account of what he or she has experienced, but a doctored version that would appear more exciting and appealing to the reader. If typical Nairobians were to write their memoirs, you can rest assured that most of them would be replete with exaggerated scenes. Here are excerpts of an autobiography by Jack Mkenya and Carol Mkenya, typical Nairobi residents. The excerpts are accompanied by their actual experiences.

Childhood excerpts

By Jack Mkenya

“I had spent the day playing with my six million dollar man action figure, when I was accosted by the estate bully, Omosh. This was definitely not one of the best situations I would have wished to find myself in, but I had been taught to stand for my beliefs and confront bullies. When Omosh came and demanded my toy, I wrestled him but unfortunately, I fell down and hurt my elbow. I eventually retained my toy and from that day henceforth, Omosh learnt to stay away from me. This turned out to be an invaluable lesson that would help be later in life to advance my career.

Actual experience

“I had spent the day playing with my Six Million Dollar man action figure, when I saw the estate bully, Omosh in the distance. He had been using me as a punching bag for the past year and if I stayed there, he would have surely bashed me. To add insult to injury, he would have taken my previous Christmas gifts that my dad had bought me, a toy and the new outfit I was wearing. To avoid the twin loss, I started running home. However, Omosh had long seen me thus it was too late for me to remedy the situation. He was fast but I made it home before he could catch up with me although I fell badly, gashing my elbow. I unfortunately got punished for running and falling. I learnt a valuable lesson. When I see a challenge, I flee!

Adult excerpts

By Jack Mkenya

“I have a long history of being on the right side of the law, which makes me one of the most recommended people in my field. For instance, I am driving down Uhuru Highway on a Saturday afternoon, a day you would expect strange traffic. I open my window and see some cars whose owners have opted to flout traffic laws by overlapping. It is getting late for me but being a law abiding citizen, I decide to stay in my lane. This is what a true Kenyan patriot is made of. I believe I am.

His actual experience

“... I was driving down Uhuru Highway, which had heavy traffic. I opened my window and saw some cars whose owners were flouting traffic laws by overlapping. I thought it was an opportune moment for me to join the overlapping lane but I quickly noticed something. A lady in a Toyota Vitz behind me was keenly taking video recordings of the rogue drivers using her phone. Immediately, the Road Hog segment that is aired on Citizen TV came to my mind. The segment is intended at shaming rogue drivers and I knew that the video recordings must have been destined to the particular media house.

I kept to my lane. Being shamed on national TV was too big a risk to be taken especially when my debtors never knew that I owned a car. I also didn't want the landlord to discover that I had been driving around after dodging his caretaker for weeks with endless excuses over unpaid rent. The situation would have been worse if my wife saw the pictures because she knew I was in Mombasa. However, the stark reality was that I was going to meet my Cindy Wa Kando.

Excerpt by Carol Mkenya

“ In a bid to deal with insecurity, the government of Kenya unveiled a programme dubbed “nyumba kumi (ten houses).” In this programme, the government recommended that people in every neighbourhood should know one another for security reasons. I followed through with this by introducing myself to all my next-door neighbours to ensure that I was familiar to them. It was a painstaking process that took a lot of my time but it gave me an opportunity to secure the immediate environment for me and my neighbours.”

Her actual experience

“Finally, after trying to find out what was happening in my neighbour's house without success, the government came to my aid through the launch of the “nyumba kumi” program. I had long suspected that my husband was dating someone else in the same apartment block I was living in. However, I had no reason to meet these potential hussies. Courtesy of the “nyumba kumi” program, I ensured that I visited every single house to trace potential rivals who could ruin my marriage. My fears were confirmed when I encountered three single women who seemed potential candidates. I have since been keenly following their movement for the sake of fighting for my marriage.”


Venue review: Laibon Hotel, South B

Every estate has its little quiet gem that residents can go and have a quiet drink away from the madness in their homes. It's not that easy to find those little places which have the feeling of a small bar, yet still, they have high standards that are associated with other parts of the city that seemingly befit high standards.

This weekend however, I discovered what might be considered one of the better estate offerings in town. I was in South B after a colleague had insisted that I try his local drinking point called Laibon Hotel. The hotel is just behind South B Shopping Centre and looks quite out of place since the area generally doesn't look quite world class in its settings.

My entry into the hotel was a pleasant surprise of a pretty decent place. I walked towards a bar counter to the right where I sat for a drink.

The friendly barman gave me my usual cold Tusker which retailed at Sh180. When beers sell at Sh180 in an estate bar, I have to accept that the business of drinking has changed forever and I my opinion on what is considered “expensive” for Nairobi drinking has to change too. Perhaps, I am still hang up on the days when a local pub sold beers at Sh110 with expensive town pubs selling at Sh150.

In spite of its small size, this pub is really well set out with a few dark leather chairs hugging the walls. I wanted to sit on them to try their comfort. There were also other usual seats that you will find in a Nairobi hotel with table clothes covering tables and four seats around them.

The decor was quite well done. Not world class but something I would not be embarrassed to recommend to a visitor in town. One thing that I would recommend to a visitor is that this place has free Wi-Fi, which would keep most people busy while updating their Facebook and Twitter profiles.

Also, on offer at the place were a couple of flat screen TVs which were showing Football. For European football fans, it would definitely be home sweet home at the Laibon.

The crowd at the Laibon included what I assumed to be guests of the Hotel at the back as well as a few folks of the older variety – 30s and above.

The venue has very clean washrooms and the exits are quite fine as there were a few doors in and out of the place. A quick recap of the venue;

Good: Decent decor, great service, clean washrooms, free Wi-Fi, disability friendly, TV screens

Bad: Very small.

My verdict: A nice little place to have a quiet drink away from the crowds. If you can find it.

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