By Patrick Githinji
Welcome to Nairobi Night Madness.
Nairobi is among the busiest cities in Africa with a 24 hour economy that sets pace to cities in smaller countries. Its beauty can only be envied.
This is seen from the vast architectural designs evident from sky high buildings already completed and on construction.
The uptown, is characterized by clean well marked streets, police and ‘kanjo askaris’ in uniform walking around giving one a sense of security.
The fancy expensive cars stuck in traffic just add beauty and status to the already esteemed city. They slowly drive into well-organized car parks around the CBD.
It is a tourist destination, boasting of hosting the most powerful president of the free world, Barack Obama and the Holiest of Holies, Pope Francis.
The sun slowly dawns behind the beautiful towers at upper hill and its yellow sunrays begin fading into oblivion. The madness sets in.
At night, Nairobi CBD becomes alive, and she is no longer shy from revealing who she really is. The façade of calmness and moral uprightness disappears with the receding rays.
Out go the workers and the law, in comes the lawless street family. Immediately you alight from a bus at around midnight, if you are even lucky to get one, you almost get stumbled upon by a child, less than ten years or so, waving a tiny dirty palm at you.
“nibuyie kitu” (buy something for me), goes the little child standing on your way lest you decide to escape.
Being the athlete you were in high school, you dodge the child and manage to get past him.Your athletic skills are nothing to go buy when you meet the ‘supposedly’ mother of the child on your way.
She is carrying what looks like a baby on her back. You are not sure it’s a baby because no mother would wrap her precious child in a half torn dirty light shuka’ in a cold night.
She extends a hand to greet you. You are not sure to take the greetings but your mother raised you better, you shake the hand firmly.
‘Aki woiye niwachie kitu mtoto wangu hajakula’ (Please give me something my child hasn’t eaten’. The other child who had borrowed before, joins the woman into a pity party stare.
Your humanly instincts will take over and you end up parting with a few coins to save the little family.
You walk a few steps, heels on spring boasting how much of a good Christian you have become.
You look back and the ‘mother with a baby on her back’ is suddenly between a con-woman and an Oscar deserving actor, she is in an argument with the child and she goes ahead to remove the perfectly wrapped doll on her back and throws it on a pile of boxes.
You become more shocked when you see her remove a bottle and sniff.
The city is bright, lit with yellow Kidero lights. The allies are deserted, street children playing around, their parents tucked tight in a pile of boxes at the sides.
You are too mad to give a damn now. The few coins you were hoping to buy‘chipo za 30 pale odeon cinema’ are in safe hands of crooks.
You walk cursing Kidero and his inability to lock up these crooks and you barely realize when a dark figure approaches from behind.
You are in an open street, perfect lighting and some Taxi drivers are conversing nearby so you see no reason to panic. You also read it’s a 24 hour economy, 24 hour security city.
The figure approaches fast and before you know it, it’s a young man maybe of age 15 or something like that trying to whisper something to you.
‘I can perfectly take him out if he tries anything’, you think as you stop to listen.
He whispers something about carrying human waste in the small black smelly paper bag, confirming your suspicions.
He proceeds to threaten how much your new white H&M t-shirt will be unrecognizable a few minutes later if you do not give him ksh20.
Your anger rises fast and you are about to throw a knockout punch at the half dizzy lad then you think, ‘If I miss, he will not hesitate to smear me with that stinky smelling human waste’.
Your nose is not accustomed to such smell. You think it is the true smell of the devil and his demons. A fly buzzes by and stops. It must have died smelling that.
The shocker is, you only have a thousand bob in your pocket. The lad, with human excrement from hell looks impatient and is almost unwrapping the paper bag.
You gamble about giving him the ksh1000 and asking for change. He must have a lot if this is how he makes money.
As you gamble, you notice two men approaching from the other side. The drivers, on the other side of the road standing by their taxis, are still conversing in low tones, occasionally bursting out into hollow embittered laugthers oblivious of the ordeal you are in.
You contemplate shouting for help but that would be of no help after they find you covered with the excrement from hell.
It’s not the t-shirt you value; it is the smell of the human waste that you can’t imagine washing from your skin.
The thought of it makes you sick in your stomach. You are so confused to realize the two men approaching have caught up and one is holding what looks like a knife to your neck.
The little lad has escaped leaving the bag of human waste on the floor. The men must be gods in these streets.
You stand there, shaken out of wits as they proceed to ransack your pockets.It’s now an hour since your ordeal. You have pitched tent at the city hall gates.
‘Kidero will pay me’ you swear as you clench your fists in anger. You strategize how you will jump on his neck as he steps out of his limo or whatever ‘taxpayer paid’ car he drives.
After all It was his responsibility to clean Nairobi. Good luck!