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February 16, 2019

How Nairobians will cope with life without roundabouts

How Nairobians will cope with life without roundabouts
How Nairobians will cope with life without roundabouts

We have many things that happen in this country that someone who is new here would be extremely confused about. One of these contradictions is that we are the only country on record to have two football premier leagues running at the same time. We are probably the only members of a city who will walk out of a state-of-the-art Sports Utility Vehicles and insist feasting on mutura by the roadside. We know that matatus are the devil. However, those who are passengers are always hoping that their matatu driver will pull stunts so that they can get to their destination on time. We know that fast food outlet – KFC – sources its chicken from the same people who supply Kenchic but we still aspire to spend thousands on a simple chicken meal at the former. We know that when someone tells you that they will be coming home after one beer it means that they will be coming after three to four hours at the least.

Even with our many contradictions, there is a method to our madness that we understand as a community of Nairobians. No one really complains as long as their individual lives remain unbothered. When someone does something that takes us out of our long held comfort zones you can expect confusion to reign. Familiar confusion we can deal with; unquantified confusion is not welcomed and we will bleat our unfavourable situation to anyone who can lend us a ear whether they can help or not. If there is a person sitting next to you or you can call, you can expect to hear the affected unburdening themselves about how Kenya Power is messing with their business. If no one is not immediately available, you see someone whipping out their phones or tablets and tweeting about it.

Such a revolutionary new situation was witnessed when the county government of Nairobi decided to deal with the traffic menace we have to deal with on a daily basis. On Tuesday, they removed the roundabouts that we have to deal with, starting with Mombasa Road and Waiyaki Way. It didn't work out quite as well as the county bosses would have imagined as people flooding the Internet with complaints about being in traffic for hours. As is usual with the Kenyan Internet community, this followed on with memes that left many holding their poor ribs as they laughed in traffic and offices. Most amusing and annoying were the new directions being given by some to move around. For instance, it has been said that if you want to go to town from Lang'ata Road, you are advised to drive down to Wilson Airport, get on a plane fly to JKIA and then hire a car and then finally drive to town. Genius Kenyans online.

Fortunately for us, we as Nairobi are an adaptive race and we shall move very quickly from suffering the actions of our city bosses and start taking advantage. We did it when they brought breathalyser, and came together to avoid going to jail. We can do it with roundabouts. Here are a few areas that we shall take advantage of


a) Work excuses

The quickest advantage area is at work. You can expect to hear people to give roundabouts as excuses for all manner of things at the office starting with arriving at work late. Employers will start receiving excuses about sitting in traffic even though they and their staff stay nowhere near the affected areas. The excuses will be fun until staff are required to state where they live when they are hired, and where they live now and provide evidence of the same. Employers are after all Nairobi folks too. They will probably have to figure a way to deal with employees who claim they are late with targets because delivery men are already running late. Good luck employers.


b) Late to go home excuses

Many men have found themselves sitting in a bar plastered beyond relief when they look at their phones and see that the time is now 3am. At this time, one realises that Andy Capp and Bogi Benda were suffering real experiences and they have to go home to a very unhappy wife. Assuming one isn't too plastered, you can expect Nairobians to start explaining to their wives when they get home that while escaping breathalyser they encountered a newly reconstructed Mombasa Road. They were thus expected to drive all the way to Mlolongo, and there were trucks that made it hellish to come back home. Their wife will believe it for just one night but it will be worth it to survive her wrath on that day.


Venue review: 1824 Whiskey Bar and Lounge, Langata Road


It was on a frenetic Easter Saturday evening that I left a flooded Viva Lounge in Kileleshwa and headed out to Lang'ata Road. I had visitors from abroad and I wanted to impress them with a place that people on my social media channels had been raving about for a while – the 1824 Whiskey Bar.

When the cab dropped me off at the venue I noted that I had to enter from the road by those barriers that are used by cars. It was a very professional gentleman and a lady at the entrance who frisked us as we went in.

The first thing I note is that this is some sort of large parking lot with a cabro floor and places which were businesses are open during the day. There are folks sitting around tables near the businesses drinking like only Nairobi folks can do. The 1824 place itself is to the right, so I tried to access the lower area but it was filled to the brim with punters. The layout in there looked really great with this low purple light that makes places look really cool.

Even without accessing the lower seating area with the very good décor, I needed to use the washroom having come from another bar. Sadly, the barman directed me to climb the stairs to use the facility. Not a problem for me but I hate to be someone in a wheelchair who is trying to use this venue as using the washrooms are out of bounds for you.

We eventually got a seat at the upstairs bar with the friendly assistance of the staff, and I was able to get my cold drink which was retailing at Sh200. The punters who were sitting mainly with us were a mix of urban professionals of both sexes in the 25 to 45 age range. They seemed to be having a ball which is what you would expect for the Nairobi “It Place” at the moment – people letting their hair loose and having a blast.

A quick recap of the venue:

Good: Decent décor, great service, clean washrooms, TV for the sports fanatic,

Bad: Disability unfriendly

My verdict: This is NOT a whiskey bar. It is an above average Nairobi lounge that is rightly the talk of the town at the moment.


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