Standards

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A friend of mine once told me that if you’re a guy and you make it in Nairobi, hell will be a walk in the park. With all the standards that have been set in this City, I somewhat saw some sense in what he was saying. It has reached a point where everyone has a benchmark on how people around them are supposed to behave and who they’re supposed to be ~ inside and out. Previously, one’s life was their own but it is not the case anymore. We are all living according to someone else’s standards. You can’t treat your hair in salon A because someone said the service is shit; I cannot shave with 55 shillings because my friends say it’s too cheap; I cannot wear Sandak shoes… Ladies cannot comb their hair because looking ‘natural’ is the new ‘beautiful’…

There’s a code of conduct enshrined in conceivable handbooks whose custodian is the person we want to relate to. Being ‘cool’ and ‘deep’ is being sought out more than land on the shores of Lake Turkana. Hanging around the ‘right’ people determines not only one’s social standing but also their career paths.

So one day I am on a date and the girl asks me what music I listen to. Deep down I know that dabo tap instantly thrusts me to the dance floor on Friday nights. From the core of my being I believe it’s only me who truly connects to Kamande wa Kioi’s lyrics. Osogo Winyo speaks to me in a way no one else does. Konshens, Kartel and Beenie Man are musical gods to me. In their graves, my ancestors know that without listening to Jua Kali the sun won’t rise in my world. When Octo gets to the stage, all I want to do is scream my lungs out and some few other organs. Every day I rewind Bend Over 853 times since I can’t get enough of the song.

When I think of the question, I smile as my mind rolls around my exquisite taste in music. But someone somewhere decided that riddims are for high school kids who squirm with trepidation at the mention of Mole Concept. A groupie sat in an AGM somewhere on the sidelines of Kinoo and decided local music isn’t ‘deep’ enough. An unknown philospher from God knows where alluded that dancing to Ohangla music is for ‘mushatharians’ and in our desperation to be ‘deep’ we embraced that and rolled with it.

So, because I don’t want to appear ‘uncool’ and ‘shallow’ I answer them that I can listen to anything. I don’t want to throw names around lest I am asked what’s their latest album.

As the conversation gets deeper we talk of the places we shop and I can’t dare mention Muthurwa kwa Oti. I can’t speak of how Njoro has me sorted out when it comes to  Khaki trousers. I won’t talk of Johnies stall in Gikomba that’s a specialty of ‘fitting’ shirts and ‘custom made’ blazers and trench coats. So I say I do my shopping anywhere I see something nice (Dubai included.. Clothes from gikomba are from all over the world. Aren’t they?)

As we continue to sip coffee in the upscale coffee house in the less noisy streets of Nairobi, the topic of socialites comes up. Technically the lady lives on Instagram. She has a beautiful face, she goes to fancy restaurants so she can upload her meals, she attends ‘cool kids’ events so she can post memories there, she has a taste for fine and trendy clothes, shoes, purses, watches, bracelets, attitudes… In a nutshell, she needs instagram more than Khaligraph needs to shed off his American accent.

So she keeps blurbing about Huddah’s latest Rover, she talks of her most recent trip to Nigeria. It’s from her that I learn that Vera spends more time on private jets than Jubilee bandits spend looting public funds. She basically adores these ‘successful’ boss ladies as she likes to call them. I learn that during their trips to Dubai they need a day or two for resting and reservicing. My date wants to ball and roll like Corazon and co when she ‘grows up’.

Apparently she likes reading. Meditation and fashion stuff mostly. In her bedroom she has 237 books and magazines on the topics. According to her, novels are for people who haven’t yet ‘realized’ themselves. She compares us who read ‘Dar es Salam by night to people who watch Jackie Chan and Dj Afro movies. I am surprised to hear that she knows who Dj Afro is. I enquire what’s wrong with watching Jackie Chan and she answers that Jackie Chan is too melodramatic. She says that Tai Chi movies are ‘plain fabrications’ and she wants to get more from the experience of watching a movie.

Do you watch them?

What?

Jackie Chan movies?

Who? Me? Of course not.

What do you watch on idle weekends?

Documentaries. I also enjoy watching wild birds and hyenas scavenge for food. Watching beautiful sea creatures swim in the deep oceans is also an incomparable experience to me.

I see…

She is a typical Nairobian chic who won’t speak to you either because you’re holding a Tecno phone or because you’re from the ‘other’ side of town. These lasses won’t come to dates on Matatus and you have to stretch your pockets to send them Uber taxis that are still operational so as to save some few notes for Mama Mboga. Without the right accent you won’t get their number and without throwing some names around they won’t even look at you for a second time.

They want a life beyond the Subaru, and for holidays they want to go beyond Machakos and not through Mombasa road. For Friday outings, they want live bands not some loud music, along Moi Avenue, from a DJ who has 2 followers on IG. They want to pose for selfies every now and then with endless hashtags and weird faces. They won’t watch Butita, Owago or Consumator crack ladies from Limuru up. They have ice cream cravings at 3:17AM…

Y’all need to chill out.

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