nimekuchagua wewe

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 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! :-)

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