Sunday, December 1, 2013

Big City Blues

Kisumu is officially a city. Prolonged exposure to this fact has inured Kenyans to the absurdity of it. Time has erased the memory of the expedient political circumstances in which Kisumu Town was promoted to Kisumu City. The details escape even me. I can only humbly opine that the lately constructed malls that dot Kisumu’s landscape do little to shake off its small-town feel. One main street constitutes the bulk of the city’s Central Business District, and the rest of the place exhibits atrocities of urban planning. Most appalling for me is the fact that the city’s Industrial Area is right on the shores of Lake Victoria, polluting the waters, last I heard. But I love Kisumu despite all her faults.

On the other hand, Nairobi City, as big a capital city as it is, and East Africa’s regional hub to boot, just does not rock my bones. Every time I go there the saving grace is the people I know, when I meet them and catch up. With the passage of time I have become a social relic - I socialize with fewer and fewer people. So Nairobi seems colder and more distant every day, a place you go and do what you’ve got to do, hopefully before your head explodes from pressure accumulated in traffic jam.

At one of our rare meetings, I told Anita that I would be going to Nairobi, perhaps to stay. I wasn’t excited about it at all, indeed I, who bottles most feelings in myself, was only saying it because I can’t discuss the weather forever. Her reaction surprised me - she half-pouted, half-frowned, and changed the topic. It wouldn’t have meant so much if I hadn’t convinced myself that Anita was just another valued friend who would naturally sink out of my radar, just like a ton of other valued friends I had alienated by moving around the country. The rest of the conversation was awkward, thanks to the dawning realization that she actually cared enough to make a face at the prospect of my departure. Heartwarming stuff.

My stay in Nairobi wasn’t half as dreary as I expected it to be. I stayed on track with Bible study, never had to skip a single day of soccer practice, chatted with Pearl, met Mercy, and most memorably, reconnected with my high school best friend, Joseph, one day in church. Great guy, I’ll certainly blog about him - later. But all too soon I was on a bus back to Kisumu.

My next meeting with Anita promptly followed my arrival in the lakeside city. When we are not being unaccountably passive-aggressive towards one another, she likes fries and I like to pick her mind. So, over late lunch, in sweltering afternoon heat that only Kisumu can conjure up, she asked “Why did you come back so soon?”

“You were 25 percent of the reason,” I claimed.

“Yeah right. And the other 75 percent?”

“Other people,” I deadpanned, opaquely, as if it was obvious.

Instead of pushing me to list the Other People, she shrugged, a very apathetic shrug, and hoisted a loaded forkful of fries to her lips. Talk of mixed signals.

Or am I reading between nonexistent lines?


  1. Hahaha brother you are witty...and that Anita girl, wife her already!! On to more serious things, allow me to introduce myself as the Regional Executive Director for Bloggers Association of Kenya - Western Kenya Chapter. We would love if you can join us as we strive to build each other and enhance creation of local online content.

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    1. With Anita, it's not that straightforward!
      Thanks for visiting/commenting and best wishes to the crew at BAKE. I'll have a look for sure.

  2. Kisumu has the small town feel- it's true. It's also more relaxed and laid back as opposed to Nairobi where everyone is always in a rush and the CBD is full of people on the go-but like you said, for a city- one thing that saddens me about what's deemed 'town' in Kisumu- is that litter bins are less than 6.
    Talk of Keeping the City Clean.

    1. Laid back and relaxed, its true, I like that bit too even if some people think it reflects on the prevailing culture, I think its a function of the temperature!
      As for the dustbins, you have an eye for detail.

  3. Replies
    1. tSN, hi! I have only a very rough idea what your question is asking but you don't sound impressed...

  4. I was whining about your inability to look me up.

  5. Hi buddy, please reach me on 0722168178, needa share something with you ==> BAKE Western Kenya Chapter



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