Barfly: Getting Down and Dirty In Nairobi

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Barfly: Getting Down and Dirty In Nairobi

Nairobi is filled with normal people who lead normal lives, went through four years of university, got a good normal job, married nice respectable people, got two or three normal kids and have already planned out their retirement down to the shamba they plan on buying somewhere in Syokimau.
I’m bored as f*** of them, in fact I’m bored of just being around them. They feel like they are just the cogs in the machine that is our capital city. I want to meet more of the grease that smoothens the process; prostitutes, artists, gangsters, graffiti taggers, pimps, painters who live hand to mouth because they sell out, drug dealers and everything in between down to the chang’aa brewer. Sin and creativity go hand in hand and can be found in plenty in the dark underbelly of Nairobi City.
I’ve been away from big bad Nairobi for months hiding away in the
sleepy creekside town of Kilifi convincing myself that Kenya’s den of sin held nothing for me. The smells, the traffic, the brusque nature of everyone in the street and the sheer vastness of it couldn’t compete with sundowners on a giant dhow with beautiful people whose capacity for love and generosity is unfathomable. I was done with Nairobi, to the point of job hunting in Cape Town and Zanzibar. However my idyllic life of living where gin and tonics were a proper accompaniment for a bacon and egg sandwich at 9:00 a.m. were shattered by one thing, I was bored. I missed Nairobi and all its accompanying degeneracy, crime and profligacy. In truth, I wanted more. Not just of the city’s dark side though, more of what emerges out of it.
My second New Year’s resolution is to dive deep into the murky water that is Nairobi’s dark side and find out just what makes it tick. How does it create artists who can create pieces of spectacular beauty while still churning out murderers who wouldn’t flinch at stabbing you for your cheap wallet filled with 20 bob coins? To go down to the region where gloom produces colour and tenebrous souls and get absolutely shitfaced drunk because the world viewed through the eyes of a drunk person is completely different.

The sober person may see a seedy bar with skimpily dressed bar maids whereas the drunk guy sees lower alcohol prices. Banned brews such as chang’aa are the drinker’s bungee jumping, the risk of your rope cutting being replaced with the threat of probable blindness, a total adrenaline rush. It may be dangerous, this seemingly pointless endeavour into Nairobi’s seediest regions, but I’ve met people who’ve come out seemingly unscathed after similar adventures, with the exception of one gunshot wound and a drug addiction.

I’m convinced that armed with my press pass and sufficient beer money to get me sloshed but not attract muggers I’m sufficiently assured of safety and if not f*** it, Carpe Diem.

This first appeared in UP Nairobi

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