Busy for Whom?


I don’t like Nairobi.

Yaani let me tell you, I feel nothing for the city. I don’t like the hustle and bustle of it. I get tired, literally, when I think that I have to go to Nairobi even for a short errand. Come to think of it, there’s nothing ever brief in Nairobi. Something that should ideally take you thirty minutes to do can take you a whole three hours.

Nairobi guys are accustomed to living with the ‘inconveniences’ of the city. They don’t mind being stuck in traffic for hours. Neither do they mind the blaring noise from the uncouth Matatus. I literally turn deaf in five minutes of getting to Nairobi, the city isn’t for the faint hearted. You will get robbed at midday, in broad daylight and no one lifts a finger to help. People have perfected the art of minding their own business so much that they get shocked at random acts of kindness. You expect to get robbed when you ask someone for help and no one ever thinks that someone who’s asking for help is genuine.

I have never understood why everyone is always in a hurry in Nairobi.

There’s a certain unexplained sense of urgency. Where are you all normally rushing to? No one strolls in Nairobi, if you do, they’ll knock you over and wonder what’s wrong with you. I hear thieves in Nairobi can tell a newbie just by looking at their walking style. There’s a way to walk in the city you just don’t walk like you are strolling in your village in Shamahoho! So now imagine me, myself and I trying to fit into this fast-almost-breaking-into-a-run walking culture. This is me; I never do anything in a hurry for anyone or anything. Even God and I have an agreement on things that should be done fast and in a hurry. The agreement is that I don’t do those things, ever!

I have lived in Machakos all my life.

Here, we don’t do distance or time, those two are very foreign concepts. Let’s not discuss time much because the good Lord took all his time creating us, who are you to hurry us up? Please! This is the place where they’ll tell you that they are coming in ten minutes and then show up two hours later and ask “kwani nimechelewa?” My people don’t know how far far is. If we tell you that you are almost getting to your destination, please find the nearest fuel station and gas up; we don’t do close proximities! We do long distance! Our fore fathers taught us well.

So I got used to living in the slow, no hurry in Africa kind of life. It didn’t help that even when I moved out of Machakos, for higher education, I went to Njoro! Do you even hear the sound of that? Njoro people! Njoro! So clearly, I wasn’t going to become any faster, no! I just moved from the countryside to the thick of the countryside. I was beyond salvage.

So now there’s never anything exciting about me going to Nairobi. I prefer my countryside. Anyway, a while ago, I had to be in Nairobi for a whole week. I had a speaking engagement that meant that I had to stay in the city the whole week. While there, I figured that I could meet some old friends. I didn’t have much time to spare because I had a rather busy schedule. I particularly thought I’d meet one of the friends who had kept telling me that we should meet up whenever I am in Nairobi.

So I called early enough in the week, told her that I was around and I could spare sometime to meet her whenever she was available. She dutifully asked what day and time we could meet. I gave her options. I said we could meet in any of the three days of the week. I gave her my schedule that was much freer in the mornings, a bit busy in the afternoon and pretty congested in the evening. She could now pick her most convenient time.

Friend looked at two of the days and ruled them out. She settled for the last day, it was a Friday. So I told said friend that we could meet in the morning between 10.00 and 1.00 p.m. But friend had a problem, 10 was too early for her. Why I asked? She said it was too cold and she couldn’t wake up that early. What about work I asked? Wasn’t she working? She reported that she was in between jobs. I offered to buy her breakfast as an incentive but she wouldn’t barge. I was irate with friend. See, friend had been pestering me to come meet her and now that I am in her backyard she can’t get out of bed to come meet me because it is too cold? Alar! I was pretty livid before a number of thoughts came to mind. I’ll share them with you.

Firstly, people prioritize what is important.

Ladies and gentlemen, there is nothing called ‘too busy’. There are very busy people in this world but please, they will make time for you if you fall in their list of important. They will be unavailable for everyone else but available for you. Someone will be unavailable for you because sleep is higher than you are on his or her priority list. The same person will cancel meetings, book a flight and travel oversees to meet another person. It is a matter of priorities. Here’s the golden rule: Learn to accept where people place you in the pecking order. Don’t force your importance, don’t be upset, and don’t make them feel bad about it. Accept where they place you and move on. People will apportion time to what they value, full stop!

Secondly, whatever someone choses over you is his or her business. It doesn’t have to make sense to you. In as much as you may think it trivial, it isn’t to them. They get to choose what is and what isn’t important to them. What you call trivial could be someone’s big deal. Respect their chooses and act accordingly. Again, it doesn’t help to ‘catch feelings’. It is a free world, yeah?

Thirdly, make a habit of listening to people’s actions more than you do their words. People can say anything to make you feel good but the proof of the pudding is in what they actually do. Be careful to note what people do and not what people say. Where someone’s speech and actions conflict, please believe the latter. People will do what they intended to do but more often than not, they will say things they don’t mean and have no intention of ever doing.

Fourthly, social media friendships are a total scam! Do not believe them. Please understand that just because someone comments on your posts on Facebook, double taps on your photos on the Gram, retweets your posts on Twitter and “LoLs” at your WhatsApps statuses doesn’t mean that you are friends. Social media is the dearth of all authentic relationships. Smile for the cameras but don’t live for the cameras. Most of what you see online is a facade and what people tell you on social media is meant to keep the conversation going. Don’t get it twisted bro, it’s just an act. Play your part but don’t get too obsessed with the spotlight that you forget that we all leave the stage at some point.

Lastly, draw a very clear line between fans and friends. Fans are most of the guys you have on social media; they are your cheering squad. These ones will cheer you into a ditch and laugh at you as you struggle to pull yourself out. They are with you as long as the hashtags last. When shit becomes real, they’ll hang you out dry. Enjoy the attention but don’t let it deceive you into thinking that they mean it. Also, just because you work with someone, go to the same church or belong to the same family with them doesn’t mean that they are your friend. Friendships are made and cultivated on at a very high cost. They are a matter of commitment which is such an expensive virtue that very few people can afford.

Friend told me that she’d look for me. I am waiting but, to be honest, I won’t hold my breath. I think I am wise enough to know where I rank in her order of priorities.

I still don’t like Nairobi!

  1. I have been waiting for this poooost… very insightful. But its true, Nairobi is too much…waaah

  2. Woah! This is amazing and clearly states the facts about friendships these days. Things are just as you see them, just don’t overthink!

  3. Tones of lessons from reality of life! You had right words for every point.Why lie am taking nibbles to concentrate on every nutrient meant for my malnutrition self😝😝Spot on!

  4. Mwendwa, awesome storytelling from your heart to the world. Because we are visual beings, pull out a photo collage of Nairobi city and Machakos. That will be worth a thousand words. Now I’m wondering if I’m your fan or friend. LOL

  5. I don’t like Nairobi!! “Make a habit of listening to people’s actions more than you do their words!” Thank you.

  6. Learn to accept where people place you in the pecking order……… don’t Force your importance,don’t be upset about it n don’t make them feel bad about it…nice one..

  7. Respect people who find time in their schedule to see you. Love people who never look at their schedule when you need them.

  8. i once lived in nairobi back then in 2017.i was doing signwriting and all this mwendwa is narrating was part of me daily ,ie being busy ,being in hurry and fake relationships.currently living in machakos and the place is soo comfortable ,the experience is amazing.i think all people living in nairobi have been brainwashed.

  9. Valid points. But I love the city! And no, you don’t need to be in hurry like everybody else. Here for the city life! Also, you should have called me instead of said friend :(.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.