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February 20, 2019

The Nairobi Living Obama's keynote

The Nairobi Living Obama's keynote
The Nairobi Living Obama's keynote

I couldn't resist it. I don't know what came over me but last weekend was spent in the euphoria of something that was later diagonised as “Obama Mania”. I followed the progress of visiting US leader President Barack Obama keenly from landing at JKIA where he was welcomed by his sister, our President and a young girl with a bouquet of flowers. This was followed by speech after speech at different places – the Global Entreprenuership Summit, State House and at the Safaricom Stadium Kasarani. You would imagine that I would get over Obama, but no. It was only when he flew off that I realised I had followed the progress of one man around the country like a dazed fan. What on earth had gotten over me – the cynical Nairobian?

As I followed his speeches, I noted many of them were suggestions about how we needed to keep doing the good things and get rid of retrogressive practices that hurt us. As I listened to this wise man, I realised if someone can state the things that we all knew as a people with authority, then perhaps I too could be the guy who Nairobi folks would suffer from 'Murua Mania'. If I was to be given the opportunity to give my own speech to Kenyans, this is the speech I would give to the adoring crowd waiting for me at the Safaricom Stadium gymnasium. Don't scoff at my preparation for my moment of glory, if the son of a goat herder could become the President of the United States, my dreams are valid.

“My fellow Nairobians. Wasapangalas. Niaje mamorio. Errr... I remember when I grew up in this town. In those days, cutting hair was done either by mothers with scissors as they held down squirming children – both boys and girls – who would have 'railways' on their heads. Errr... Those who were well-off would go to a barber under a tree with handheld hair clippers and white jackets that were the preserve of doctors. And butchers.

In those days, TV started at 6pm and there were no toys or gaming consoles. Therefore, kids were forced to do things that many modern kids would consider strange – chatting and playing with other real human children. Being late was not an option as there were no cellphones that could be used to mitigate when one was being tardy where their appointments were concerned.

Things have changed now, and mainly for the better. Your city has the highest number of mobile money shops in one country on earth. Your economy has been cited as one of the fastest-growing in the world. Your city drinks the highest amount of alcohol in the region – in spite of alcoblow and second-generation drink raids. Skinny jeans have stopped being Uber cool for many Nairobians. You can't imagine how important this has been for many of us who detested that hateful article of clothing. This is amazing information, and I recommend that you keep up the good work.

Even with the improvements, we can all still do better. We have to get rid of some of the habits that have been holding us back as a city and a nation. Errr... This starts with one of my pet projects – the girls. We need to find a way of involving girls more in our social activities. Why during a date is it only the boy who is supposed to pay the bills incurred during the evening? If during a game only half of the team is allowed to take part, that's just stupid. You are missing out on their strength. Therefore ladies should also be at the forefront of also paying for bills, so that relationships can move on an equal billing.

This bill paying doesn't just apply to girls – it applies to all drinkers. There are traditions that are seen that happen to be pulling us back. Why is it that during a drinking session where folks are buying rounds some guys suddenly disappear when it is their turn to buy a round. These people are also the people who when the meat has been roasted magically appear when the man comes with water to wash hands and cut meat for patrons. These 'visitors' have their hands washed, and go on to eat the lions share of the nyama choma before disappearing when the hand-written bill is given. These are the retrogressive practices that make us as a society move back.

We can be better. We must be better. Errr... We must as a nation move to the future with equity of paying bills.

Thank you Nairobi for the amazing reception. God bless Nairobi. God bless Kenya. God bless Africa.

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