The concrete jungle, the city in the sun, the fabled Nairobbery, the city where a prospective resident (a typical villager) is briefed in advance lest they unknowingly buy the city clock, and most importantly the city with everyone’s dream. Every aunt and uncle take their time to dish out the don’ts of the city, real or imagined. I had a fair share of this when I came to this city of ours, dragged from the village by the quest of quenching my thirst for education. For that matter, I have never been conned except by touts who forcefully kept the change, and never been arrested by a kanjo.
Largely confined to students’ halls of residence owing to my reluctance to fall, a victim of Nairobi’s ever alert hunters, I didn’t experience the life that would make me appreciate the wholesomeness of a village life, beyond the serene environment. Snuffed out of the hostel by circumstances that a busybody would have no problem blaming the government or that shrill ‘serikali tafadhali saidia’ I found myself navigating my boat through the murky waters that are residential apartments. I do recall how students who hailed from the urban cities made the urban life so alluring that we almost cursed why we were brought in the village. Well, we are here now and all we want to do is go back to the village, only if we could carry our jobs with us. Here are my reasons.
Back in the village, a neighbor would forget that their unga was depleted the previous night, coming to the realization only when the water has boiled. The safest course is to rush to a neighbor with a gorogoro, ask for some unga and rush back to cook a meal of ugali for their families. But here in the city, with the precious commodity absent from the shelves, you must be insane to walk into someone’s house to borrow unga.
Leaving your kids at a neighbor’s house to run errands
People are rarely absent from their homes back in the village but sometimes they might be required to travel long distances for special occasions such as burials or weddings. When such an occasion arises, parents usually take their kids to a neighbors house, where they spend the day or until the parents get back. If their animals to be taken care of, the host will do so diligently as a neighbor should. I have never seen that in the city.
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Ensuring a drunkard gets home
Sometimes someone’s father (that’s how they are referred) takes too many for the road, such that his feet completely give up its original use-mobility-and sleeps along the road. It is the duty of the villagers to ensure that he reaches home safely. When they sober up and told that so and so brought you home, it may act a deterrent from drinking too much. In the city, who knows you? Who cares whether you die or not? Who cares when street urchins play they hand of God? The city resident’s motto seems to be ‘nobody gives a damn.’
Popping into a neighbors house unannounced
In the village no one has to announce their arrival or that they are visiting. They do so when they feel like it. They are not obligated by harsh economic realities to inform whoever they intend to visit in advance. Do that in the city my friend and you will appear in gossip tabloids or social media for gross misconduct.
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Taking a dump whenever and wherever
The beauty of the village life is there are no signs limiting or warning someone not to take a shit anywhere. When pressed the only thing someone has to do is look for the nearest bush and take time relieving himself. You don’t look over your shoulder for any suspicious being (kanjo) who might want to take advantage of the god given excretory act.
There are no beggars in the village to arouse your sympathy, leading you to dish out your pocket change once in a while. Such sights are very rare largely because each family –the extended family- takes care of the less fortunate among their relations. Not in this city. Every corner has someone with a rare form of deformity, illness or sometimes just a rare form of laziness. In each and every one of these corners, a dirty plastic cup will be extended at you, sometimes with a kind of empty-your-pockets look or you-are-wearing-suits-when-you-have-nothing kind of look. The city life is no fairy tale for those who carry sympathy up their sleeves.
The sound of ambulance sire
In the city, every few seconds someone is fighting for his life. as necessity would have it, an ambulance will rush through a traffic gridlock to a hospital where his or her life would be restored or prolonged (as someone smiles all the way to the bank). At first, such a sound will fill a villager with profound sadness because such an occurrence is very rare in the village. When it happens the entire village goes on its knees to pray for the almost departing soul, that he may live and go back to his loved ones when he gets to the hospital. As a matter of fact, the very few first days in the city can be scary, when every minute someone is being rushed to the hospital in an ambulance.
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