Photo Courtesy: Bloggers Association of Kenya

You know the expression people give you when you say you haven’t been to Nairobi? ?? ‘Like are you for real? Who doesn’t go to Nairobi?’ They make it seem like you haven’t gone for the life-changing pilgrimage. They never even react like that when you say you never go to church or the mosque. So this time round I went, for the first time, to Nairobi. Well I once passed by as transit to Nakuru for a journalism competition but that was it.

Going to Nairobi for a paranoid person is not all that a fun trip. In my entire journey I thought of how I should have perhaps carried my ‘war kit’…you know, just in case, especially with all these scary theories about Nairobi and it’s residents. I should have carried a dagger, a knife, a poisonous spray, rat poison and a rope just in case I meet one of the robbers or psychopathetics. I would first spray into his eyes, followed by stabbing with the dagger, forcing the rat poison down his throat, hang him if all that doesn’t work then finally cut him down into into pretty pieces of what could make a delicious meal for the cats back home. This would be my souvenir from Nairobi because getting the BAKE trophy seems quite impossible at this stage. Having Biko and Magunga as fellow competitors is like jogging like Mr Bean then go on a race with Usain Bolt and David Rudisha. So perhaps having some fresh meat would at least make a few fellas happy in my neighbourhood. Okay people, relax, i’m no murderer. Just precautionary measures you know ?

On alighting at Nairobi; River road, all I could see are these very many people moving across back and forth in very quick steps. As I walked fast, I just realized that the place was rather scary. I mean, when was the last time I saw such large numbers of people in the streets of Mombasa? Perhaps it was during a charity walk or a political rally? Where do all these people come from anyway? It’s like God dropped a handful of people on the land of Nairobi and said ‘Go!’ then the crowd spread about like tiny termites each on their own agenda. Everyone busy. Everyone in a hurry. Later on I went to the loo of a certain mall and even there, the place was crowded. Too much chaos. In Mombasa you could go to a loo and dance in front of the mirror, record an entire song, apply make up and still no one appears to interrupt your peace ?

As I walked around town I kept greeting people then I just turned to my cousin, “oh I forgot…people don’t say hi here right?” What a life. I was totally confused which street is OK to receive phone calls and which taxi driver could take you safely to your destination without kidnapping you. I barely trust the tuktuks in Mombasa so what about taxis here?! And these people earn money wah! And that is without mentioning that there is no ‘near’place. No walking distance. Oh God bless Mombasa for it’s easy life?

I had heard of the pretty cold weather of Nairobi but when I arrived it was almost like Mombasa cold days. No big deal really. So I sarcastically started questioning ‘sasa hii ndiyo baridi nnayoskia?!’ (now is this the cold I hear of?!’ Going to bed, I wore a very light dress and a sweater then just as it became darker I started feeling the cold in my veins. I started shivering. Like literally shaking. Like what we used to write in our inshas ‘nilitetemeka tem tem falau ya kifaranga katika baridi ya kipupwe’ Is the saying like this? Lol. I don’t remember anymore. The house girl had her rib cracking laughter looking at me shiver at the middle of the bed, seated, unable to stretch my hands to my bag beside the bed to get something else to wear on top. Or perhaps that was panic and anticipation for the next day’s event? Maybe. Maybe not. The next day I decided that I had learnt my lesson and wore pretty heavy and that was the day the sun was shining like no other. That was Nairobi weather for me ?

I’ve never really been an event/party person. People means chaos for me. It means dressing up for the occasion. It means calculating how to respond when men give you their hands to shake. It means turning into an extrovert overnight. It means ladies looking at you and wondering why you didn’t put on make up. Oh and some ask you by the way ? It’s like a body feature is missing. Okay thanks to mum for ensuring I wore a cinderella dress that she made herself with so much love. Well of course she also made sure to get me heels lest I wore sneakers to the event. Trust me I would have but by then, I would be dead ? Well fortunately, most men nowadays know about the issue of shaking hands and Muslim ladies so they just smile and respect that. It gets pretty awkward sometimes but well, they are learning ?

Just when I got to Radisson Blu hotel, I was welcomed by the ushers who were in ‘sare’. What is sare in English by the way? Similar outfits will do I guess ? I went all alone, sat alone at the back, hoping no one tries talking to me. But then I decided to find out where my fellow Mombasian competitor was and joined the family somewhere in the middle. I still sat alone. To avoid awkward conversations like:
“So are you a nominee?”
“Which one?”
“Strokes of my pen? Lubnah?”
“Oh no I’ve never heard of that. Which is that? Is it a travel blog?”
“Lol. It’s creative writing.”
“Oh the one when mentioned no one cheered?” ?
“Yeah. That same one.”
“Oh you mean with kina Biko!”
“Yes. Biko.”
They say you are not a blogger until you know Biko. Oh man he deserves it really. So now that has become my biggest weapon to get the masters to talk to me. After the event I went round talking to a few people here and there plus James of BAKE made sure I met people I should know as a writer. And whenever I mentioned my blog no one knew of it. They heard it first time at the event. But then just when I mentioned that I was in creative writing category with ‘akina Biko’ I could see how suddenly people’s eyes grew bigger and were looking at me with keener interest. I recollected all my courage and spoke like am about to drop a grenade of wisdom. Oh well, with the masters, you must show them that you are worth listening to.

And you know the worst part of it is that Biko himself never showed up. How does someone win two awards and not show up? This guy is such a man and a half. Like a boss. Such style lol. Hehe that is how good writers can use suspense and be mysterious in such a cool way. Had he come, I would perhaps have shared my plate with him and thanked him for ‘allowing’ me to use his name to create my own ? But then I met Magunga which is also a great gain. The masters of writing and art. I just hope I meet Wanja Kavengi soon. I want to thank her for making me laugh whenever I read her posts ??

Well honestly this a great experience for me alhamdulilah. I just wished we had more Coastal nominees and Muslims as well. From the attendants I just saw around 5 Muslims and from the Coast. Where are all the rest whom I keep reading their work and marvel at their greatness??! I just hope next year we have not less than 10 Muslim and/or Coasterians being nominated. We have all it takes and all that is needed. We just have to stop sleeping on our talents. So if you got your blog filled with internet cobwebs and dust please clean it up and start afresh. If I could get there I don’t see why anyone else can’t. So best wishes to all the upcoming writers. Congratulations to all the BAKE winners and nominees and thanks again to all those who voted for me, those who read my blog, those who believe in me and inspire me to keep inspiring. Let’s meet next year in shaa Allah!