impressions #2

What I really like about Nairobi are those old shops downtown were you still find lots of history and dust from the 1960s & co. Unfortunately, though, things have changed a lot on (e.g.) Moi Avenue and many of these old shops that would previously guarantee some interesting discoveries have nowadays been dissolved and turned into small booths selling either clothes or mobile phones.


One of these old shops that somehow managed to survive although one hardly ever sees a customer in them, is A.H.Adam Ltd., a …uhmm….hardware shop? That is, the whole shop is crowded with old instruments and wooden gadgets from the 1950s,60s, etc, modern – local – hardware equipment and if I remember well, it used to be the only shop in Nairobi a long, long time ago where you could rent tents and other camping equipment one would require for an extensive safari.
I went inside and asked the owner whether he ever thought about that day when a man comes into the shop, offers him a lot of money and tells him to give him everything the way it is.
You know this place might not offer really valuable items, however, it sure makes up for an interesting discovery event.
The owner smiled at me and said: “I am waiting for that day and would go on a looooooooooong vacation.” I reached for my pockets but couldn’t find enough…
In case you’re in NBO, check them out opposite Jevanjee Garden while they are still open. Nakumatt downtown is in the neighbourhood and apparently killed many of these small shops…

Kenya, I think, urgently needs a deposit system for batteries.


These are some of the old batteries I found on my friend’s new 2acre shamba. While the new generation knows about heavy metals and environmental pollution issues, many old ppl still don’t know anything about material flow management as they grew up with organic waste (goat bones, maize combs, etc.) and thus keep on throwing these batteries in the garden, into the fire or even into the toilet.
Also, I know many ppl think that toilets are holes with no end – places where you can dispose of anything without having to worry…..And this applies to educated and non-educated ppl around the world, I am not only talking about your fav. shaggz homies / villagers / rural folks.
Keeping in mind that it would prolly take too much to explain the environmental context to everyone, I thought a financial incentive in terms of a (let’s say 2/=) battery deposit could generate some awareness or at least help ppl removing these ticking time bombs from their fields. What happens to old batteries in Kenya anyways?

On a lighter note – next time you’re in a Ministry, desperately looking for a missing file, try to check the Ministry’s external storage space a.k.a. window shield.


I came across this peculiar file someone had lost or thrown into the inner yard of that building and couldn’t help but taking a picr with my mobile. You know, that piece of paper is there, hundreds of people are passing it every day and not a SINGLE person feels responsible enough to remove it. Even I didn’t.
Maybe I should put a 20 Shillings note inside that file and see how ppl react.

Btw, when will they start privatizing the main roads in Nairobi?

Note to myself: save your money for a notebook + wireless internet flatrate in Kenya.

Author: jke

Hi, I am an engineer who freelances in water & sanitation-related IT projects at You'll also find me on Twitter @jke and Instagram.

16 thoughts on “impressions #2”

  1. “Ati dealers of new and used “surplus goods” .What does that mean “surplus” ? Okay, Yeah I hear those older shops are now the what I wrote earlier “shipped from Dubai stores: He!he my Auntie has a ka stall there with all sort of attractive but after one or two uses useless gadgets. Someone once told me that Kenyans are so gullible we buy anything. Isn’t that the truth that some of the stuff from “dubai” can be locally made and presented in a very attractive and fetch good catch. I’m not so convinced that some are made in Kenya and labelled made in China to make it more attractive. By the way, those shops look so dark and sinister LOL…Okay that is hatin’ .

    Another idea, advertise that there will be hidden camera “candid camera” and whoever collects the paper can win a “$200 prepaid calling card”. Haiya I’m sure there will so many Wananchi collecting that karatasi , ubaya you better deliver the promise coz that can turn ugly aka lynching. But seriously the Mayor should have such an award for responsible Kenyans. Did I ever tell you I had this ambition of becoming the Mayor of Nairobi someday? Do not laugh ..just big dreams…

  2. In fact, just yesterday I came across that “Beautification” office. BEAUTIFICATION – what a word! :-)

  3. jke, just wondering, is your driver’s license still valid? You can’t imagine how much I would love to be there…pls keep us posted.

  4. I used to love going to A.H.Adam Ltd with my dad as a kid. There were always new treasures to find. It’s great that it’s still up and operating.

  5. Dude

    Sadly, I have never been into Adam’s shop, I have passed right outside the door a million times but never gone in.

    There was another Adams family shop, this one at Adams Arcade right next to the Java House over there that also sold a ton of curios, is it still open?

    Here is an errand for you – have some fun and take some photos of

    – those driving school cars and fellas on Moi Avenue.
    – the touts at the Railways Station (if you are “man enough”!!!)
    – Munyiri’s
    (they say that it has no door which is why its open 24hrs a day, is it true?)
    – POP IN on Moi Avenue ( is it still open? )
    – the swimming pool (especially that weird diving board) at the YMCA
    – Luna Park

    then post them up here.

    Will post more errands for you as I think of them.


  6. To second Ntwiga errand requests-
    – Photo taken next to KICC and Uhuru park – A must!
    – A pichaaa of Wimpy, some of us forgot even the Wimpy colors , was it green color and some yellow .Haiya I really did forget their signature colors.
    -Of course Carni in, out and between .

  7. yeah, more impressions please;
    don’t mind what you take although i would love to see how machakos is doing!

    ich bin so neidisch

  8. @Mathias: IMAGINE what I found yesterday @ GTZ compound….YOUR old Suzuki SJ413. Mit dem Radio das wir damals eingebaut hatten! Bild folgt asap ich es vom Handy aufs Notebook und von dort aufn Stick und dann bei Harry @ AEM hostel verschickt habe.
    Soll ich noch im Chalbi Drive schauen?

    @Hash: I can see you are a true KC :-)

    @Ntwiga: first of all, let me check for those stickers I’ve been mentioning the other day (those Kiuk ones). You know, as a matter of fact, plans are to drive to Embu by next week! But I’ll try to get those pictures.

    @Irene: hehe…I’ll make one of me and my Mbuzi in a boat @ Uhuru Park. ROFL.

    Kenya Tourists…I guess I am one of them these days. Anyways, dudes, the only shitty thing about Kenya so far is the dust/dirt with this persistent red soil. I hated it back then (on clothes), and even today. My jamaas @ school back in those days gave me a pack of OMO when I graduated. I still have it and it would come in handy now.

    Needless to say the first thing I did was buying a packet of BlueBand, my fav maize flour brand, some fresh Sukuma and some Kimbo cooking FAT.

    Ati Carnivore, haven’t been there yet. Why did they stop selling game meat anyway`s?

    @ALL KENYANS IN EXILE: Kenya is so great – pls make sure to come back soon and open a business over here. It’s not the money which is needed, but the spirit and desire to change something. I am very optimistic that the overall infrastructure will improve even more during the next few years. As for Safaricom network (e.g.): it is way much better than the Vodafone network in Germany…

  9. hey JKE,

    If you do make it to Embu, you will be about 30 minutes away from my ancestral home in Chuka, be sure to give them a big WAZZUP!!! from me.

    The stickers would be great and I would love to get my hands on some, let me know if you find anything.

    Take some pictures of those old upcountry busses and matatus, I would love to see those again.


  10. @Jke: I’m sure the Uhuru park artificial lake with those lovely boats plus the curious onlookers wondering why the two lovers chose this site instead of the grandiose village market, splash or utalii swimming pool.I know the photo would look lovely of the two of you two love birds :-)

  11. Please, have a look. I was throwing myself away, when I discovered this:

    Dat Wikipediadingen op Kölsch! But to be honest, my language is not part of the ripuarian family … I am living just two or three villages south of the language border … So the people of Cologne are already laughing about my slang … (:

    Language is something really great my friend!

    Take care and have a good time in AAAAAAAAAAAfrika !!!

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