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Hold on to Your Phone Like Your Life Depends on it: Advice You Will Be Given When Moving to Nairobi


Nairobi, Kenya’s capital city has often been referred to as ‘Shamba la Mawe’, a Swahili phrase that translates to “farm of rocks” or “rocky farm.” This phrase has been used to refer to the ‘hardness’ of life in the big city. Everyone is trying to survive in the city, whether legally or illegally.


If you are a good, law-abiding citizen, you will need a manual to survive this ‘shamba la mawe’. Here are the top three pieces of advice you will be given when you move to Nairobi;

  1. Hold on to Your Phone Like Your Life Depends on it

There are several ways criminals in Nairobi will use to try and get your mobile device from you. From snatching it in broad daylight to using crafty methods to try and get your attention so that they get a chance to get your device from you. You will be advised not to receive a call when in town. In fact, no one should know that you own a phone. Everyone is a suspect. You are better with two phones, one that you will use in town, preferably one you don’t mind losing to use as a cover in situations where you cannot afford to lose your main phone.

The Kenya National Archives in Nairobi CBD. Photo: COURTESY

2. Trust no One

When you move to the city, you will need to leave your naïve self behind. No one is to be trusted, even the pregnant lady asking for help could be the reason you end up hating the city. You need to assume that everyone is out to get you and act accordingly. If someone needs help, the most you can do is stare and sympathize, do not try to be a good Samaritan for strangers. When you get in the same situation, they won’t bother to help either.

Read Also: Most Hyped New Eat Out Spots in Nairobi

3. Don’t Ask Everyone for Directions

When you are still new in town, you are bound to get lost. There are countless streets and landmarks that you will need to master before you can manoeuvre the city with ease. Despite being lost, you need to know the right people to ask for directions, everyone is not trying to help you. Ask for directions from people that you can identify in case of an incident like security officers.

Aerial view of Nairobi City. Photo: COURTESY

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Although Nairobi has already collected its fair share of negative reviews, it is home to more than four million Kenyans and offers a vibrant mix of culture, history, and opportunities. You will also meet some of the most hospitable people in the city.


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