Ingawa wapo wengi wazuri mamiii, lakini nimekuchagua wewe, tabia zako sawa na sura yako, nimeridhika kuwa na wewe…(“Afro”, Les Wanyika.)
It was a blessed morning, and something had made me get up early. Last night’s dream brought back pictures of an older Nairobi , the city whose sights & sounds had been lingering in my head for a while. For quite a while.
Finished watching “The Last King of Scotland ” last night. Despite of the story that somehow tries to paint a closer picture of Idi Amin’s rule in Uganda, one thing about that flick instantly made me fall for it: Ishmael Jingo ‘s “Fever” — a track the world has been blessed with since Duncan Brooker (where are you, man?) unearthed it some time ago and put it on his still marvelous “Afro Rock Vol.1” compilation we had been talking about earlier .
If there’s one thing that best describes situations, it should be music.
Ryszard Kapuscinski, the legendary polish journalist that died earlier this year just a few days after my Mzee, added another point that had left me thinking. In his book “The Soccer War”, he mentions the bars and pubs people had been attending during those days back in July 1960 when Patrice Lumumba was the man. Kapuscinski, who was supposed to fly to Nigeria only, took a flight to Cairo instead, another one from Cairo to Khartoum, and from there he and some other journalists somehow managed to drive into a completely lost Congo.
Would you take such a journey upon you only to spend the biggest time of the day locked up in a hotel somewhere in a boring 1960 Stanleyville , or Kisangani as it is called nowadays?
“The African Bar”, Kapuscinski goes on explaining Lumumba’s approach on people, “is like the Roman Forum (…). This is where people started listening to Lumumba’s speeches…(…)”.
So you’re sitting there, reading these lines and thinking to yourself: did this actually change since 1960?
Maybe there are less idealists out there since Lumumba — and where Kapuscinski still talks of Partisans who fought for uhuru & other theoretical goals, today’s world seems to be made up of HipHop proclamations and cyberwars. Welcome to the 21st century.
It’s one of those days that I start dreaming and think about how life must have been in the 1970s Nairobi. Life, as in nightlife. Clubs? Music? Styles?
It certainly was different from what I witnessed while growing up in a very futuresque Tokyo (Japan) in the 1970s. And what exactly is it with Nairobi — this once “Green City in the Sun”?
“Nairobi”, the lady asked me, “why would you want to live in a city like Nairobi? I stayed there for a few month and didn’t like it. All those houses with barbed wires and high fences — I wouldn’t like living behind a fence…” — “Well”, I replied, “neither would I…but maybe you never saw its real beauty” .
Home is where your heart is, and mine is still somewhere out there (with a very Kenyan “somewhere there”, the hand pointing in no particular direction).
@AfroM & EGM: what happened to the Nairobi Architecture Group? Maybe a FlickrGroup?
AOB: doing a search on Nairobi via del.icio.us reveals blogs like Paul’s that somehow remind me of my own blogged worlds (this & this, this & this, etc.)…his blog definitely is a must-see for all Nairobians in exile! :-)