It's a chore for Nairobians to shake off bad habits

Club Sabina Joy, Moi Avenue. Photo/JAMES MURUA
Club Sabina Joy, Moi Avenue. Photo/JAMES MURUA

One of the most bizarre stories to come out of Nairobi this past week was one of a man who was arrested for theft at a high-end mall. The man who owns property, and is doing quite well by Nairobi standards, was caught on closed circuit TV stealing from a prominent Kenyan citizen. He then took a flight to Mombasa to celebrate his newfound loot only to be arrested when he came back to town after his free holiday. It turns out the man has been arrested for this kind of criminal behaviour even though he is doing quite well in life in the recent past.

This made me wonder about the way some of us operate in this town. Some of its residents used to have habits that couldn't be considered the best, but for some reason you find that we can't resist engaging them should the opportunity arise. Just as this man allegedly couldn't resist the urge to steal from others like he used to, you will find some Nairobi residents going back to habits they should have discarded many years ago.

I mean how can you explain it when you go to a dodgy eatery in town with questionable hygiene in these times of cholera, and the makeshift parking lot is filled with cars – all the latest Sports Utility Vehicles which retailing in the tens of millions. These people who are being served by burly barmaids and pinching bottoms aren't there because they are saving coins. They couldn't resist going back to the day when they were not as well to do, and they are simply marveling that they can get meals and drinks at informal settlement prices. To prove this point, the biggest mistake many of the places that have dingy drinking dens can make is to refurbish them only for their prized patrons to flee to the newest hovels.

Or take these people who are now doing well in life, and have walk in size wardrobes. Then when a huge event where they are likely to meet older friends, they decided to dress in an old dress of suit they wore when they were younger. The idea is to show their contemporaries they still have the body of someone in their early 20s. The suit may have come back to fashion – it's two decades later after all – but the person spends their evening tucking in fat into their outfits and regretting this event isn't ending faster. As soon as they can they will flee the gathering because their prize piece of clothing raptured in a very unflattering manner when they were bending at the buffet to stuff their plate with chicken.

Then there are those of us who cannot resist the idea of going back to old loves. We know these people aren't good for us, and they are the past for a good reason. However, the thrill of that period when they were still giggling and hiding in corridors to catch a kiss or hug will for a reason always be irresistible for some. So they will call up an ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend who they know messed them up thus leading to the being “ex.” The calls will happen at moments of weakness, especially where alcohol is concerned, and before they know they are first sharing laughs and more in an intimate place.

Fortunately or unfortunately, just like the man who allegedly stole and celebrated in Mombasa only to return to a cell, they will face grim reality in the cold light of day. This is because they will quickly be reminded why they broke up with this person in the first place. They might find this person still has tendencies like Togolese born English Premier League star Emmanuel Adebayor's brother, and their home has been swept clean of household goods. If they are not at home, they will have cleared all money and other valuables on your person. Or they will suddenly unleash their negative personas – maybe violent physically or emotionally, maybe hygienically challenged or other anti-social habits. This person will not be called again until one day in the future the poor sap who keeps calling is inebriated again, and they have unlimited call time like from Airtel.

Venue review: Club Sabina Joy, Moi Avenue

Something big is happening in Downtown Nairobi. I initially thought that some entrepreneurs in that part of the city were looking to the future thus opening new lounges with highly priced drinks. Those who were stuck in the 20th century would surely suffer as they lost the customers who have loads of money to spend on their entertainment.

This whole theory about progressive owners was thrown out of the water when I went to Club Sabina Joy on Moi Avenue on Friday night. I was late in town with a good friend of mine who suggested that we check out the legendary drinking den famous for cheap drinks and loose ladies of the night. I was a bit apprehensive as I was not really in the market to be hounded by gaudily made up ladies as I kept a hawk eye on my drink to prevent my being drugged. Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw when I went in.

The first thing I noted as I went in was not that it was painful for anyone with a wheelchair to go up to the drinking area. It's still disability unfriendly. As I was being searched for weapons, and I went up the stairs I saw there were no ladies in the corridors looking like they were up to no good.

At the level of the drinking I was shocked to learn the seedy interior had been remodelled, and there was even a little area that could be dubbed “VIP” with red lounge seats. My friend and I sat to the right of the area which was more of an area that you would see in most Nairobi pubs. Seats around tables made of metal with a cushion at the appropriate place.

We ordered our cold Tuskers and they were retailing at Sh170 – very reasonable in this day and age of Nairobi drinking. Above us there were TVs for your viewing pleasure – although with the English Premier League done and dusted, too many of us will be using that toy to watch National Geographic or the Ninja Warrior Show.

As I sipped on my drink, I looked at the crowd. It had changed a little bit from the ratchet crowd that was its mainstay in days gone by. Some of these ladies looked a little 'suspicious' but they were not likely to spike my drink, unless I was really looking for it.

A quick recap of the venue

Good: Convenient location, reasonably priced drinks, TV for the sports fanatics, decent service and décor.

Bad: Disability unfriendly, emergency exits not clear, location doesn't inspire those who want to

My verdict: There is a revolution in Downtown Nairobi. They went and changed the seediest bar in town and made it a semi decent lounge. You have to see it to believe it.

Twitter: @jamesmurua