Celebrating East African Writing!

This is Nairobi by Paul Kariuki

Photo by Jerry Riley. Click on image or Visit to see more pictures of Kenya

“You mean to the City Council is not aware of a man-hole existing in a residential estate and had been put up for rent as an ‘open-sourced’ toilet?” the mukorino man asked his friend, Joshua.

Joshua regarded his turbaned friend Mwaura. “Man,” he said, “You must be from Mars! This is Nairobi where authorities sleep on job. Look down here,” he tugged Mwaura’s hands as the two precariously stood at the edge of the yawning man-hole. “What do you see down there?”

There were several polythene bags that wrapped whatever it was that drew flies in great swarms. A malodorous smell effacing from the hole hit one like a brick to the face.

“Human waste!” Mwaura intoned wrinkling his nose.

“What you don’t understand,” Joshua said, “is that the Council’s efficiency in waste management grounded to a sluggish halt ages ago. As a result, toilet bowls filled up to capacity and somebody got a brainwave that had turned into a money minting venture. You see those three guys,” he pointed to three youths that stood immediate after the hole conversing, “they had been doing a superb job evacuating the full bowls and disposing the waste here, but at a fee, from each respective household.”

“I get you there, but what exactly do you do here, a supervisor of sorts?”

“Am the guardian to this pit hole. I make sure none of the waste, unless it be from our designated clients, ever lands here.”

“You mean you man this pungent waste hole 24 hours a day?”

“No, we do shifts. I’m off duty from six in the evening till six in the morning.”

Mwaura tried to take away his mind from his friend’s deplorable job. He looked to the corner that was the boundary of the plot the man hole was in. A hefty man was roasting maize and selling to customers despite the repugnant smell wafting their way.

“You mean to tell me the Council is aware of food sold in unhygienic environmental conditions to unsuspecting customers?”

Joshua laughed. “Man, this is Nairobi. Anything can happen under the sun.  Grease the palm of the right Council official to look the other way and its business as usual.”

Mwaura shook his head. “This is a time bomb with an epidemic on offing. Consider it rains for weeklong and the water fills and overflows this ‘cesspit’, isn’t that an epidemic we are grappling with?”

“The very reason we are putting it up to let to whoever can construct a decent toilet,” Joshua said.

“You people are crazy. Who own this plot with all these posters saying a residential high-rise is coming here up soon and at the same time the plot is up for rental and sale?”

Joshua leaned closer and whispered to Mwaura’s ear, “Don’t be shocked. The plot is the Council’s and we’re selling it to gullible buyers. Call it con artistry but it’s the way of life here!”

“What?” Mwaura was aghast.

“This is Nairobi, no need of those saintly airs of yours with that kilemba for effect!”

© Paul Kariuki

If you would like this piece to be the Story of the Week, please vote below on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being weak, and 10 being excellent. The numbers will be tallied on Friday and the story with the highest figure shall be Crowned Story of the Week. Be sure to fill in your name and verifiable email. You can include your critique/comment after the vote.


One comment on “This is Nairobi by Paul Kariuki

  1. kyt
    September 14, 2010

    nairobbery indeed 9!


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