Expatriate anxieties in Nairobi


Page 188,

Crime was the mzungu obsession. It was what bonded us together and filled in the cracks in conversations at cocktail parties. In the summer of 2006, it was the favorite topic in Nairobi, and from what I’ve gathered, it’s been like that since public safety began to crumble in the late 1970s. “Did you hear about Lizzie getting stuffed in the trunk of her car?” “What about those blokes whocame to the lady’s house for yoga with rolled-up mats under their arms and robbed her blind?” “What’s the best kind of wall to build these days?” “What kind of Keep?” “Any movement on firearm licenses?” I tried to reassure Courtenay that many mzungus had been living here either too long or not long enough and were paranoid, but the facts didn’t always cooperate. A few days after I treated myself to an expensive coffee table, allegedly made from a Zanzibari or Lamu shutter, I forget which, that we had bought from an Indian saleswoman who was very pretty, very stylish, and ran a very successful furniture business not far from our house, I was sitting in the kitchen with Courtenay, having breakfast. We were drinking freshly squeezed passion fruit juice, Madline the cook was at the stove, and the two of us were trying to act as if there was nothing unusual about having a six-foot-tall African woman dressed in a crisp white chef’s outfit flipping eggs for us in our own kitchen. Kenya’s two leading daily newspapers, the Nation and the Standard, both among the best in suSaharan Africa, were spread out in front of us. Courtenay pushed over the Nation. “See this?” It was a picture of a pretty Indian woman, eyes lined with kohl. She was in her late thirties or early forties, face staring out from the “Promotion to Glory” section of the paper, the obits. The woman who had just sold us the coffee table had been shot in the stomach in a botched carjacking around the corner from where we lived and bled to death on the way to the hospital. “Is this how it’s going to be out here?” Courtenay said. “We meet someone, and then they die?” If you believe in Max Weber’s concept of a state as maintaining a monopoly on violence, well, Kenya wasn’t a very strong state then. Everyone with means hired an askari with a club or a machete to guard his property. They were everywhere—in front of our house, the Times bureau, the grocery store, the bank, the school, standing vigilant in a deserted parking lot. There’s no good reason why Kenya, one of Africa’s most developed nations,has to be the land of askaris. Just about all of Kenya’s neighbors are much poorer and also much safer. It stems from a corrupt and dysfunctional police service and the inequality built into Kenya’s charter myth. This society has always maintained unusually well fortified divisions between the classes, races, and tribes. As mzungus, we felt like targets. We were unbelievably rich—most Kenyans lived on a couple dollars a day—and it wasn’t like we blended in.

WTF. Now, I’m curious what the rest of the book is about; other than the catastrophized insecurity to ginger up their story on expensive-coffee-table lifestyle…

Do you know there are slow people in Kenyatalk who would say this mzungu is lying and that no apparent inequality exists in Kenya? The same people who try to minimise the effects of colonial rule and some who go a step further to claim colonial rule was good for Kenya.

Mtu anakawasaki aje na novel iko dirty?

The best line above is how Kenya is less safe than our much poorer neighbors.

Kenyans love you brag about our “largest economy in East Africa” but in real terms for the common mwananchi it doesn’t mean shit and their opportunities and comfort level is not much higher than average Ugandan or Tanzanian.

Case in point, food security. More people face famine in Kenya than UG and TZ.
Of course you’re also more likely to get conned or ngetad in Kenya than any other East African country.
The headline GDP figure doesn’t mean what people think it does.

You know Kenya is one of the few nations where middle-class people imprison themselves at home surrounding themselves with high walls and metal grills on windows and metal doors.
It’s what happens when majority are denied a chance to earn legally

Hii Kenya we just survive by pure luck. If you check listings for houses. You pay a premium to live in a “gated community”. Stand alone properties are cheaper and they have to add in that the “friendly and helpful local police are nearby” in order to attract renters/buyers. If someone is out to get you that gated community is of little help and those “friendly and helpful local police” are the same ones lending out a gun to the people who will target you. Bankers can not be trusted and Njoroge, even though he means well with his new banking policies as regards larger sums is just making the security situation worse.

Guka @FieldMarshal CouchP , if you have never seen a handwriting that looks exactly like yours! :eek::smiley:

All that you have said is true. It used to make me believe that there is nowhere as badly insecure as Kenya in the whole wide world. Then videos of robberies in South Africa started streaming on my cheap android phone. And more ghastly, even grim, videos kept streaming! Just last week or 2 a murderer slaughtered a man in the streets of a country regarded as one of the most developed countries in the world. Yesterday there was more murders in the same country.

It is bad in our Kenya. I know we can do better for ourselves. But we cannot classify ourselves with the heavyweights out there. We are midgets in every contest possible.

I agree there are places that are worse and South Africa is among those. But safety is one of those things where somewhere else being worse is of little comfort. But give credit where credit is due. We have made major improvements since the 2006 being talked about in the OP. There was a time even just receiving a phone call in public in Nairobi had to be approached with the caution of a secret service operation.

Heart of Darkness/Out of Africa type of shit

We share with SA that we were a settler colony and the levels of economic inequity between the haves and have nots is ridiculously high.

Bruh. The ‘exotic Africa/magical negro’ element is strong in this one.

“We were drinking freshly squeezed passion fruit juice, Madline the cook was at the stove, and the two of us were trying to act as if there was nothing unusual about having a six-foot-tall African woman dressed in a crisp white chef’s outfit flipping eggs for us in our own kitchen.”

Kweli this looks like a juicy book, funny never heard of ita ati Pulitzer price winner. This mzungu has a few interesting insights but on the whole he has superficial understanding of Kenyan society. Typical white messiah typa issh… Kenya isn’t that insecure, hata mimi am pushing 30 na sijewahi experience a serious insecurity incident in my life. Ama is having unarmed guards a sign of a terrible society? Si watchie wako kila nchi

Wapi full pdf bana @Mjuaji

Settlers definitely established the system we have but Kenyans are the ones who have chosen to keep it

So blaming colonialism for our continued insecurity and inequality is just weak

In the village where 90% of kenyans live you can sleep with your door open or stagger home at 3am from the local pub. So where is the insecurity?

Kenya is a great place to live and work. Only beef is inequality too many hustlers amongst us alafu Kenyan elites live in a bubble of their making. Na the really wealthy ni just land and buildings they own, like the landed gentry of the middle ages… That’s why everyone is obsessed with owning a kaplot juu it’s the easiest way to be rich. Akina Uhunye waachilie hizo mashamba watu wainvest in agriculture and industry. Waache ku hoad shamba,
The key factor of production

Let them invest in manufacturing and industry we build, buy and employ Kenyans. Then maybe we can respect them kiasi but before hiyo wote including your dear kamwana ni mefffi in my eyes

Mediocrity thrives comparing yourself to those doing worse. True measure of how well you’re doing is by looking at who is doing better with equal or less resources.

Then, how do you progress at all if you don’t compare yourself with anybody? How do you know if you are doing badly or OK? And when benchmarking, don’t you think it is unrealistic to only look for those you perceive to be doing better than yourself? Because the point should be to improve where you are doing better and to correct where you’re doing worse than them.

Please read my comment 5 more times. And don’t ignore the last part. I never said you shouldn’t compare.

Kenyans wanapenda kujilinganisha na South Sudan na Somalia so that you can say how well you’re doing. If course you’ll look good vs Somalia.