The part of Nairobi where we’re staying, in the Thigiri area, is populated by many ex-pats and embassy staff. It’s stunningly beautiful.
It’s also hell on my white settler guilt.
We live in a beautiful house in a gated compound, with full-time security guards. We have a cook/housekeeper named Mary, a driver/groundskeeper named Adams, and other staff coming and going. All the properties on this side of Nairobi are gated and have security. Security companies are huge employers of native Kenyans. We only have a simple seven foot stone wall, though; some of the neighbors have razor wire or electric fences. The security is not borne of needless paranoia; crime here is bad, but in the past it has been horrific. This house had two armed home invasions in the early 90′s, so even inside there are iron gates that can close one section of the house off from another.
I hate having a domestic staff. At any time of the day I can have food prepared for me by Mary, if I just ask, which means I fix myself cereal and PB&J a lot because I just cannot get past the idea that I am imposing.
We’re able to drive ourselves to nearby destinations, but driving is a little intimidating because they drive on the left here, the roads are narrow, there are lots of pedestrians and bicycles, and you have to dodge all these aggressive matatus, which are little minibusses, kind of a cross between public transportation and a group taxi. Like jitneys, I guess. I haven’t figured out exactly how they work yet.
The matatus are decorated with stickers and slogans expressing the personality of the driver, kind of like the Latino car clubs do back in Texas, but stranger. The motif is a mix of American hip-hop, reggae, African nationalism, and the odd born-again Christian. My favorite is the “Jesus Peace Biggie Smalls” dude:
The Kenyans also love their Fanta orange. It’s more popular than Coke. I love the Fanta billboards, I’ve been taking pictures of them everywhere we go:
“Stay Bamboocha. Drink da Fanta”.
“Stay Bamboocha” is now my favorite phrase. I have no idea what it means, but I say it all the time. And I drink lots of Fanta. Because I want to stay bamboocha.