The thing about being a Nairobian is that you are somehow always under pressure. It comes in all shapes and sizes and literally from everyone around you.

Your boss pays you peanuts and is always on your case. The landlord of course overcharges the rent but you cannot afford to move out. Your girlfriend wants to live like Beyonce is constantly milking you dry. Then there are your parents have so many expectations of you. They cannot stop sending you “please call me” texts to remind you to send them some money for every Harambee happening in village. Oh, let’s not forget the debts you owe the local micro-lenders who are now threatening you and have already stopped referring to you as a ‘dear customer’.

That is why most people on the streets of Nairobi are walking zombies; they are deep in thought trying to balance their finances to no avail. It is no wonder some people after a few months of the city life cannot take it anymore and quickly retreat back to their rural homes.

However, many have crafted the perfect way to survive in the city. Through hook or crook, they have perfected the Nairobi lifestyle. Not that they don’t feel the pressure, but they fight tooth and nail to stay afloat.

We live in a material world, and in the Kenyan capital it can’t be any truer. People will judge you for what they see. You cannot claim to be rich yet you don’t live a flashy lifestyle, you will be judged according to what you wear and drive and the area code you live.

That’s why city women will do their best to look beautiful. They bleach their skins, buy sophisticated weaves and dress in clothes that show off extra skin or cleavage. You wonder why there are so many socialite lookalikes; the thing is in the image. That is why a guy will take a loan in his first job to buy a second hand Toyota that he can’t maintain and struggle to live in an SQ in the leafy Kileleshwa suburbs paying absurd amounts.

Car rental dealers’ laugh all the way to the bank as guys will frequently borrow cars to appease their better halves that they own cars. The boom is usually during the Christmas holidays when Nairobians scrabble for cars to travel with to their rural homes to impress their families and childhood friends.

So next time you see these guys trying so hard to impress people they don’t even know, don’t give them a thought. There is more than meets the eye here in the Kenyan capital.

By Dennis Mbau

Survival in the crazy Nairobi Life

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