An ongoing article chronicling life in Nairobi
If you are unfamiliar with Colonial/Post-Colonial African History, I recommend you read this for context: http://exhibitions.nypl.org/africanaage/essay-challenge-of-decolonization-africa.html
My intention is to convey perspectives, my own & others, however, my reporting is subject to unintentional biases and ignorance. If I have mistold any story, used less than ideal diction, made a linguistic error, or you have any suggestions regarding methodology, please reach out to discuss.
May 30th 2018
- Expecting heavy traffic in Nairobi starting tomorrow. Kenyans are paid on a monthly basis so starting tomorrow everyone will have more money so they will be able to afford gas to drive their cars. It is also a long weekend in Kenya and Kenyans love to party so who know what is in store for the next 3 days
- We are living through a crackdown of government corruption. Every day there are new stories of government officials dubious actions being revealed to the public. For perspective, imagine if on Monday 20 federal government staff were accused of stealing $90 000 000 and then on Wednesday, the Ministry of Agriculture was accused of colluding with corn cartels.
- They say when you live in another place for long enough, eventually the foreign feels normal. I suspect the hardest thing for me to overcome over the long term would be the notion of ‘Kenya time’ — using a meeting time as a rough approximation for when/if you will get together
May 26th 2018
- We went to an Expatriate bar last night. Lots of Europeans, Canadians & others who are here to learn, ‘help’, or develop western/northern businesses in Nairobi. After seeing large squads of students who came here as a groups, I am appreciating how travelling alone is forcing me to encounter social groups and situations that are novel and beyond my normal comfortability.
- I am witnessing the greatest density of economic inequality I have ever seen in my life (extreme wealth and poverty completely coexisting). No textbook, second hand account, picture or documentary could have produced the thoughts & feelings that have emerged from witnessing this first hand. Ironically, I have not even visited one of the slums that hosts over 1 million people yet.
May 24 2018
- In many Black Mirror episodes, the society depicted aesthetically looks similar to ours or even slightly historical and said society has some advance technology that produces that episodes horror. While home is already a semi-black mirror world, Nairobi takes this effect to a whole nother level. Here you see lit billboards advertising luxuries right beside shacks where people are making their living selling food cooked over coal stoves.
May 22nd 2018
- Some photos from the Hospital. The bottom right overlooks a market where people compete to sell fresh food, clothing, flowers and building supplies. In the morning we see people wheeling carts of food from the bulk seller down the road for the day of sales.
May 21st 2018
- Working on a Healthcare project is rewarding because every project ends with more people receiving better care for themselves & their families. My efforts or lack there-off will have a direct effect on people's wellbeing
May 19th 2018
- I am getting the impression that this is a communal society (Native Kenyan society, that is). When I ask young people about their lives and ambitions, they want to help their people and enjoy time with their friends and family. They will tell you themselves how the sister/brotherhood culture is strong and it is shared with acquaintances and strangers alike.
May 18th 2018
- My new friend Elvin works as a statistician during the day and as a chicken farmer by night, demonstrating that you can lead a life of white collar work while incorporating local food production in your life
- Two things no one told me about Kenya 1. English is definitely not the prefered primary language — a mixture of English & Swahili is dominant. 2. There are only 12 hours of daylight with it getting dark every day at 6:30 pm 3. Dress I may consider average is ostentatious here so if you want to have a more authentic interactions with the average Nairobian you have to moderate how you look
May 17th 2018
- Entrepreneurship is widespread. It seems like on every street corner there are makeshift restaurants, flower shops, pet stores, carpentry shops, coffee shops, shabatti stands and M-Pesa agents.
- I have always heard about “Ease of Doing Business index” — the simplicity of starting, conducting or investing in a business in a particular polity. A common argument for ‘underdevelopment’ is that certain regulatory regimes in certain countries makes it too difficult for entrepreneurs to thrive or foreigners to invest. During my attempts to open a Kenyan bank account I garnered a perspective as to why certain governments may prefer red tape opposed to open for business. Because foreigners have routinely attempted to move money to Kenya for reasons that a government (not sure level or agency) did not like, last year greater constraints on foreigners opening up accounts was instituted. UPDATE: Hands down the greatest inhibitor to investment in Kenya is their unreliable government — demand, drive and entrepreneurship all exist but expectedly, capital will not come to this country when their government is riddled with corruption.
May 16th 2018
- Children begging on the street is commonplace. They target white people because of routine success garnering sympathies from travelers. This poses a challenging ethical dilemma. The CAD equivalent of $1.2 could buy them a large healthy meal, however, providing this reinforces a culture of dependency and begging. I will likely opt to not respond to begging and instead live an ethically fiscal life and work hard in whatever I do to generate the innovation or economic activity that will ensure future children will not feel the need to beg. UPDATE — My Kenyan friends always give to the children. Further ethical confusion.
May 15th 2018
- Nairobi is energetic. Streets are busy with cars, matatus , bikers, small shops on the roadside, a assemblies of colleagues socializing amongst the animation. Most people are extremely friendly and willing to help out a foreigner get around. A lot of young men were open to bantering and laughing with me.
- Using the world “developed” and its various forms to wholy describe societies grossly misrepresents the state of a society. Kenya is obviously more advanced in some facets of organization, technology and culture than Canada, however, is underdeveloped in other areas.
- I hung out at a local bike shop for a while and struck a deal for a short term bike lease with the owner. Seems like there is a thriving cycling community I will be able to socialize with in Nairobi
- Photos are of a wood furniture vendor that occupies a street corner, the bike shop and a busy downtown street
I am able to travel to Nairobi because of the support of the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Program. I am proud to contribute to building bridges between Canada & Kenya and gracious for their support
I strive to develop a global perspective, deep contextual knowledge, and a powerful toolbox so that I can productively contribute to the upward march of humanity
Role: Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi Health Management Intern
- Identify opportunities for efficiency improvement in AKUH, N operating theatres
- Build bridges for future collaboration between Kenyan and Canadian people/ organizations
Feel Free to contact me about this experience:
Whatsapp: 416 729 0248