There was a very special occasion witnessed in Nairobi on Tuesday as Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete gave a rare speech to both Houses of the National Assembly. It would be his last speech to us Kenyans as the leader of the country that gave us Bongo Flava, as he would be retiring in a couple of months.
As he spoke, many of us were reminded fondly of the assistance this great leader gave us when our country nearly fell apart because of an election dispute in 2008. He used his personal charm as well as that of his office to ensure that sanity ruled the day in our mad country. For this, many Kenyans including this columnist, will always be eternally grateful.
During his speech, he touched on the fact that Tanzania would continue with its friendly policy towards Kenya. He saw his country as being in partnership as opposed to being in competition with its northern neighbour. This is where some of us part ways with the beloved President Kikwete. If he wanted to appeal to us, he should have spoken of our mad need to compete as a society personally and nationally.
We are the people who are obsessed with figures that show us where we lay where things matter. Polls rule the day with companies making a killing from explaining what direction the people are leaning to: from politics, to the economy, to health, to the ideal weight for a Kenyan woman. Numbers are key.
To a casual observer we might seem like really happy-go-lucky folks, but Nairobians are very aggressive in the work vis-à-vis play aspect of things. If you are a visitor to this town for the first time you will think that Kenyans are busy drinking themselves to an early grave and you won’t be wrong. These are the people who Mututho only succeeded in ensuring that the number of deaths have reduced to manageable levels. Nairobi folks will be seen competing on who can drink the most amount of alcoholic drinks and bed the largest number of beautiful girls or handsome men.
These people who are instagramming their fun all night are the same folks who are pulling unimaginable stunts in their careers. They have been drinking all weekend but for the whole week they are putting in crazy hours from Monday to Friday as well as Saturday until 1pm. This is in spite of having been out at the preferred lounge or local until the wee hours of Friday morning.
They are the same folks seen walking in large groups across town from colleges that offer courses that improve their chances of career advancement. If you don’t meet a Nairobian for a couple of years you will see them at the many graduation ceremonies in a black gown throwing their hat in the air. Their Facebook status will be a humble affair with them thanking the Lord for bringing them so far that now they are “Dr So and So”. This fellow is the same one you were last drinking with until the wee hours of the morning, and they never mentioned they were doctoral candidates. If they mentioned it, they probably said they were considering doing it just so that they can hook up with young and beautiful college girls.
We are always comparing our city favourably or otherwise with other parts of the world. That we are at the bottom of the football numbers will bring us a lot of grief, but we are consoled with our athletics and our rugby. We follow keenly numbers of issues like corruption, or city living indicies, or number of buildings, and these are quickly brought to the fore for comparison purposes. If there is a list that Kenya and, or, Nairobi is on, you will definitely be hearing about it on our media spaces. These are the figures that we shall be battling with anyone who is unwise to argue with a Nairobian from across the continent. We are the most likely to unleash on you figures on our mobile banking or the fact that we have the lowest maternal mortality rate in the developing world. Therefore before you start seeing us as brothers President Kikwete, please see us for what we are – the most competitive people you will ever meet.
Thank you for 2008, Mr President. Enjoy your retirement.