There’s something profoundly rotten within Nairobi’s psyche; our social fabric is tattered and stained. Hear me out:
So today, on a bus from town to Yaya, I was sat next to this gentleman who, though not particularly expensively dressed, looked quite decent. His hair had that shade of gray that you get not so much from advanced age but from the struggles that come with trying to eke a living in Nairobi. He had on that beard of a fellow that’s too poor to bother shaving every morning, and, glancing at his feet, I could tell that the sole of his shoes had been replaced more than once.
We rode on in silence until, at a traffic jam, a hawker selling sweets got into the bus. My companion bought those sweets that are usually sold in fours for 10 bob. Perhaps in an effort to break the ice, the gentleman offered me two of the sweets.
Naturally, one should be grateful when a stranger in a bus offers them candy, right? But not in this Nairobi. We’ve all heard of stories whereby someone stopped to give directions to a stranger and the next moment, they found themselves phoneless, cashless and disoriented, with their bank accounts having been wiped clean.
“I’m good!” I shouted at the guy, waving my hand defiantly and dismissively. I saw the deflated and slightly ashamed look on his face and started feeling guilty that perhaps I had been rude to an older person. I thought offering an explanation would assuage his feelings, so I said, “Sio kwa ubaya, It’s just that I am diabetic, I don’t eat sweets.” That was a lie.
As though that was not discourteous enough, I promptly took out my earphones, pressed play on the audiobook that I’m currently listened to, and jammed the earphones so deep inside my skull that I could them compress my medula oblongata.
For the rest of the journey, I kept thinking that the dude looks pretty decent, and perhaps he had no ill intentions other than to have a lively time during the 20-minute journey. Maybe he offered me the sweets because he genuinely believes in the virtues of sharing and looking out for your neighbour. Perhaps, I thought, we might have had a lively chat along the way and I might have learnt a thing or two. Besides, hadn’t I witnessed him buying the sweets? When would he have had the time to lace it with scopolamine, if his intention was to zombify me and still my valuables?
On my way back, I sat next to this girl of a marriageable age who was, by all means, pulchritudinous (don’t bother looking it up, it means beautiful. It’s just that since I took a break from writing, I haven’t had the opportunity to use such big words which I like).
Now, I am also a seniour bachelor of marriageable age, and my handlers are getting anxious that I don’t have even a girlfriend, let alone a fiance. They have advised me to “put myself out there”, and the process of looking for a wife, I deduced, involves a lot of talking to strangers.
I wanted to initiate small talk with this lass and hope that maybe it would lead somewhere. We’d start with small talk in the matatu, exchange contacts, meet for coffee a week later, and probably hold our wedding on 7th next month, the same day my luckier friend Mwangi is tying the knot.
However, before saying hi, I thought to myself: What if she refuses to engage with me, thinking that I’m one of those smartly dressed conmen that speaks to strangers in matatus, drugs them, and steals all their cash? Poetic justice is cruel, I tell you.
And that, my dear friends, is why I won’t be inviting you to my wedding any time soon.
I was in Tanzania sometime back, and the people there aren’t all angsty and suspicious. They will gladly engage with you, invite you inside their homes (yeah, a tuk-tuk driver took me into his home for supper) and even feed you if you’re a stranger in their land.
Kenyans, who cursed us? Nani alituroga?

Lukorito Jones

When I'm not busy chasing around stories for my quasi-journalism career, you'll find me dabbling in fiction and perfecting my deer-dancing and goat-screaming skills.

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