A-Z of Only in Nairobi (F-J)
· False advertisement: mingi “fish & chips” shops only sold sausage & chips, and you could ingia a restaurant and order the ‘dish of the day’ lakini you’d be ambiwad ati it wasn’t available. Siku hizi its swimming pools without water (ymca), bakeries without cakes mpaka afte (the one in 20th C) … err but hizo ni part of the hubbub of Nai
· Fanta na Coca Cola: those were the sodas to drink. Kina sprite, sijui mirinda, tangauzi lemon, ginger ale, those sodas couldn’t compete with fanta/coca cola. Hata when fanta blackcurrant na fanta zingine tofauti tokead they still couldn’t beat fanta orange. Lakini mnakumbuka when small kiddos drank soda alongside biscuits? Aah they used to wacha “floating fish” in the soda bottle. "Hamna adabu?" They'd be asked. Na mnakumbuka that thing in chuo of sharing a soda, and before one person passed it on to the next they would wipe the bottle with their sweater sleeve? Eurrgh sana hiyo.
· Football Africa style: there were mob football fields hapa na pale and people would kutana there to play matches. Some players were barefoot lakini they gongad the foota mbali sana. Na je those days of Gor Mahia (“Gor biro”) v. Harambee stars, and people in the stadium would riot and jump over the podiums into the field. Some wobohos only arrived at the mwisho of the game in time for the riots.
· Footwear like: sandak (they’d melt on people’s feet when the jua tokead), akala (sijui kama they were moulded with fire au they were sewed together from tyres), ngoma (bila style but handy for impromptu running for a matt), safari boots (lakini they were mostly valiwad by tourists with those khaki outfits) oh and who can remember the colour of their slippers? Yani every Kenyan wore slippers at home, it was a total and absolute Kenyan tabia. Heh-heh try playing in an area with thorns and unavaa slippers! Mob thorns ingiad people’s feet that way. Ooh "ndutu" also ingiad people's feet when they wore slippers.
· Gates: Na pia gates had sharp spikes – hah! We used to ruka over our gate when we were katazwad to go nje and play, but then those spikes could wound someone. Mnakumbuka those metallic gates with ornamental designs and a kaplace to chungulia from? Hakukuwa na mambo ya ati doorbell, you gonga on the gate with a shillingi. Na gates used to be fungwad with a chain and padlock – some padlocks were industrial-style and our mbwa used to cheza with that chain and piga kelele with it.
· Githeri-to-go and chai-na-bofuro-on-the-run: mnakumbuka those hawkers in every part of Nai who used to sell cold marrow in sacks, chai from vibuyu and mkate bofuro (those big slices with blueband). Maze they were kimbizwad from central tao lakini people used to stop and drink tea there.
· Gongaing on bus roofs: as a signal that you’d fikad your destination in Kenya buses. Maze they used to be so packed, lakini the dereva could hear when someone gongad the roof and the bus would simama mahali popote – bus-stop or no bus-stop. Also matts used to stop for passengers anywhere.
· Gout: the way people ate that combi of nyama choma and Tusker/Pilsner, mob men developed gout and beer bellies. Hata some manos objective yao ilukuwa to eat nyama pekee and to drink beer, day in day out.
· Handshakes: it surprised me that wazunyes don’t really shake hands with each other lakini in Nai if you didn’t shake someones hand it was rude. Us kiddos pelekad the handshake a step further – who kumbukas the name of that handshake whereby the thumbs clicked accompanied by that craze of saying: “‘sasa?’ ‘fit’ ‘story?’ ‘hakuna’) heh-heh maendeleo ya teeniez.
· Hao watu wa: makaa, wa sukuma wiki, wa roasted maize, wa fried samaki (aah the harufu of those samaki was too much), watu wa fried nduma, wa mitumba, wa kubeba mizigo (like you could pay them to beba crates of soda or mizigo from the market on bicycles/ wheelbarrows), wa sugar cane (aah I really loved sugar cane, yani that sukari is second to none lakini they could maliza your teeth). Asiye taste sugarcane raw hajawai kutaste sukari.
· Hospitals za kubeba your own blanket: aah that’s not ungwana. People going to public hospitals had to beba their own spoons and blanketi or they would tetemeka in the cold.
· Idle/leisurely TV presenters: hah-hah kumbuka when a VOK/KBC/KTN was being aired and the sounds of the presenters/staff talking could be heard; ai yenyewe. Na pia when the weather was being presented the weatherman/ woman wouldn’t have prepared a script beforehand, they’d just randomly point at a map of Kenya and sema “err huko Mandera hakutanyesha… err…Mombasa kuna humidity…. Oh- na pande za Rift Valley kutakuwa cloudy. Okey goodnight. Oh na pia huko Pwani kutanyesha. Goodnight” Woi woi we would cheka, those presenters were comedians bila kujua.
· Interactive advertisement: mnakumbuka those mathes outside markos or hairdressers who used to urge passing women to go and have their nywele songwad, karibu they vuta them by force, mpaka you could enter into an argument with those mathes saying to you “ah-ah lazima tukusonge nywele.”
· Joto, flood-rains, cold nights: Nai could be hot, hot, hot, especially siku za Christmas but at night the temperature would plummet kama ile ya Sahara desert. And when it rained it was liked someone mwagaing a bucket from mbinguni hata we used to sing “rain, rain go away/ come again another day/ little children want to play/football (or netball).” Lakini it would continue to nyesha and we'd play "stuck in the mud."