“Now I can finally say; KARIBU NAIROBI!”
Thus was the first text message I received from my friend Melissa Wanjiru, following a 14-hour bus ride, welcoming me to this cold but beautiful and bustling city. I was sour from the journey but subsequently filled with anxiety, excitement and expectation as I started this exciting new chapter of my life in a new city. I was to begin pursuing a degree in Journalism and Media studies at the prestigious University of Nairobi, and merely saying I was eager to start is an understatement.
Funny enough, this wasn’t my grand pilot arrival into Nairobi; more like a Scene 1, Take 2! I’d first come to Nairobi about a month earlier because my admission letter read that I was to report on September 10. Unfortunately for me, an ill-recorded email address by the admissions office meant that was oblivious to information suggesting that the start date had been switched to October 10. Imagine the smack-in-the-face disappointment I felt being told this in person at the School Of Journalism front desk. It was obvious this meant I had to return to Entebbe, the alternative being staying in Nairobi and completely blowing my budget. So the entire month of September was spent in day-by-day anticipation of my return to start school.
Now I’ve been here about a month and I must the say the experience so far has been really fun. The city is much more metropolitan and modern-feeling compared to good old Kampala, and that’s a change I’ve happily welcomed. Walking through the Central Business District (CBD) and one gets a sense of calm and composure as the people go casually about their day to day business in their bespoke suits and designer shoes (the fashion sense here is also a step up compared to Kampala, especially for the women.) None of the noise from taxis and boda-bodas that I’m accustomed to. The public transport vehicles, known as Matatus, are something else entirely. The are all intricately and skillfully designed with various references to a wide spectrum of pop culture references. You can find a matatu themed after Game Of Thrones, another Sauti Sol, another Migos, and another Manchester United! This list is endless. Unfortunately i don’t have good photos to show here but be sure to see some on my Instagram eventually.
The University Of Nairobi’s main campus is almost in the middle of the CBD with an iconic tower that forms part of the city skyline. My time here for the last few weeks has been great and my classmates, most of whom are Kenyan, are very friendly and eager to teach me everything about Kenya. But they are not excited about me as they are about my friend Ibraheem Lawal , who’s Nigerian. Ibraheem was surprised about how quickly everyone he meets can tell that he is Nigerian just by his accent or by seeing him wear his native Yoruba outfits. I’m quick to tell him that Nigerian culture is easily the most popular across Africa! My lecturers are varied, some intrigue and some boring, but they are all experienced and knowledgeable with some being active or retired participants in the Journalism field. The university is the most sought after in the country, so everyone is happy to be here and so am I. There’s a barrier of course in language as I don’t know Swahili and my classmates always teasing me about it but I’m eager to learn and they can testify that I’m quickly catching on; sindio?
I’ve had some “adventures” while I’ve been here. I visited Nation Center (in the picture shown earlier) to sit among the live audience for a satirical comedy and interview TV show called Wicked Edition hosted by a one Dr. King’ori. It was a great experience as he is a really funny guy and it was my first time in a TV studio. When the international Star group Major Lazer were in town there was no way I could miss, and the experience at the event was nothing short of spectacular! However I almost got stranded at the venue after the show when my Uber driver cancelled the trip at the last minute, which was subsequently followed by my phone blacking out! By sheer luck I found a friend to hitch a ride back to my residence. More recently, I went to the Kasarani Sports Center to watch the football match between Kenya and Ethiopia. Unfortunately I got there when the stadium was already filled to capacity. And the police did not take kindly to rowdy youth trying to get through the gate. Thus they acted upon us with tear gas and rubber bullets. I’ve never ran so fast in my life!
Barely a month and so much is already going on. The next two and a half years or so are looking very promising. Stay tuned for stories from my new base; Enkare Nyrobi.