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A city with no soul

Nairobi was once compared to New York and other cities in the world, with skyscrapers and beauty. Actually it is called the city in the sun. Appreciated still is the beatification with ornamental trees along the streets. It has the contrast between the ancient colonial and modern city. Residential areas are not at the city centre as found in some European cities including Paris. Nairobians live in estates and suburbs built on the outskirts of the business district. Estates vary according to classes and individuals who can afford them. The highly rich residents are found around the northern part of the city. Mostly in Muthaiga, Gigiri and Runda among others. The south and west are full of middle class people. Westlands, Valleys Archade, Kileshwa, Adam’s Archade, Upper Hill and Jamuhuri have become sub-sets of high class estates with expensive houses. Land value in such areas is exorbitantly high. Eastlands is covering the biggest area with the highest population. Most of the people living in Eastlands are poor and middle class. However, many people live as far as 35 or even 40 kilometers from Nairobi yet they work in Nairobi. The city is constantly expanding with the average of 5 million inhabitants.
Besides the estates and formal settlements, there are many informal settlements hosting the majority of the very poor of the city in the sun. The biggest is Kibra followed by Mathare, Mkuru Kwa Njenga, Kware, and many others. Such informal settlements come up due to economic pressure that the city creates.
The gap between the poor and the rich in Nairobi is very visible. There are people whose meals rely on what they can find in the litter bins in the city or in the dumping sites that are everywhere in the simple estates. There are heaps of waste materials along the roads and in the estates sending terrible smell. Plastic papers everywhere. Dilapidated roads leading to the estates have big potholes that break the springs of cheap Japanese vehicles. Middle class persons prefer off-roads that are expensive to maintain but can manage rough roads.
However, this blog is rather interested in the soul of the city. Any city in the civilized world must have space for recreation, entertainments, culture, and socialization. Of late Nairobi city is reducing areas meant for recreation, culture and socialization. Actually, the city has become purely business center. Market areas are very few and too small and mismanaged. Hawkers spread their goods along the busy streets even in the evenings. It is a desperate situation for those who work in the transport sector. Car-Parking spaces are few and very expensive for ordinary car owners. Public means are owned and operated by private individuals who must make profit. You cannot imagine the rush that is experienced in Nairobi at rush hour. Every operator seeks to make profit at all means. The popular public transport in Nairobi is known as “Matatu”. Such means link the residential quotas with the city centre. They move at terrific speed and pollute the air. Worse still some have installed noise making exhaust pipe and ear breaking sounds that scare others from the road. The noise and air pollution have rendered life in the city not only difficult but also very risky. Many residents lose their hearing power, their sight, and develop other strange diseases.
It is a nightmare to do business in Nairobi. Too many pedestrians and crowds of people who move with speed. At time some people on foot are killed by moving vehicles or injured. There are cars, buses of all sizes, motorbikes, bicycles, and tri-cycles. It is just a mess to cross the street. Thugs take advantage and prey on those who may be distracted.
Strange enough, in Nairobi, people do not talk anyhow. People are not sure of themselves and of each other. There is always suspicion. Such feeling creates bad mood and stress in people.
Nairobi has lost its soul as individuals do not have any proper place for entertainments. Everything is business. On a Sunday some clubs are prayer houses where preachers address their congregations. It is as if there is no time for socialization. People who do not socialize will not learn how to talk to each other. Unfortunately, some politicians use this failure to divide people and create fear in them. The Governor of Nairobi County needs serious prayers!
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About Peter Onyango

Dr. Peter Onyango O. is one of our main contributors. He is a senior law lecturer, a writer, a consultant, peace ambassador, and a researcher. He assists so many professionals, legal minds, and debaters with his skills and scholarly wealth! He supports children and village community as a way of giving back to community. He edits, proof reads, and publishes various articles for our page!

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