Just the other week I had a lengthy chat with Mark, a long time friend who’s lived in Cape Town for decades as an expat. Our talk centered on what made each other’s city the best one to live in – mine being Nairobi. We all portrayed the prominent out of what our cities had to offer and it was almost a contest as to which one – if selected – can become Africa’s next capital. Mark insisted that Cape Town is the best place to live b’se it’s a world-famous city with superb beaches, the spectacular flowering boom, great historic places, and the Table Mountain.
Well, Mark might be right b’se I myself have never been to this Cape Town but after all, everyone compliments what’s their own. So I put these factors across to Mark and proved to him why Nairobi is the preferred destination for anyone seeking a satisfying lifestyle. The rise of Nairobi city into both a regional and international hub for diverse human activities has placed it on the front line to lead other African metropolises in attracting visitors who later end up settling here. With the following reasons, Mark’s only recourse was to concur with me…
Vibrant multicultural composition
It’s in Nairobi where you’ll find it hard to distinguish natives from foreigners since the latter find it easier to blend in with the hospitable and open-minded locals. I can confidently say that almost every tribe on the earth is well-represented in Nairobi which has been turned into the cultural and ethnic hotspot of the world. At every angle you turn, you’ll notice something that portrays the diverse cultural lifestyle of the city’s inhabitants. The distinct and multicultural composition can be observed in a number of religious places of worship, architectural designs, art and design, music and movies, fashion, and the influence of Swahili which is spoken by people from various ethnic backgrounds.
At the moment, there are a lot of mega infrastructural development projects ongoing in different areas of the city. Expansive flyovers and underpasses now streamline the city’s busy transport system in addition to the public service taxi cabs and buses (matatus) that ferry commuters from one city end to the other in real-time. Though short of high-end public facilities typical of advanced cities, Nairobi is already on steady progress towards improving public infrastructures to world standards. Just this week, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta is set to launch the high-speed standard gauge railway that will run between the country’s capital and the coastal city of Mombasa thereby reducing both time and costs by more than half. Such an initiative is projected to boost the country’s economy directly and indirectly.
Nairobi’s ambition to become the continental leader is also manifested by the vast real estate gains and last week construction work kicked off on what would be Africa’s tallest building “The Pinnacle” and more investments are already lined up. Many housing projects have produced modern estate villas and expansive homes in the city’s outskirts and thus catering to the accommodation needs of the city’s ever increasing population. The capital already has a vast number of world-class multipurpose malls, office spaces, hotels, two international airports and a lot more. It is assumed that in ten years ahead Nairobi’s skyline will be an endless sight to behold – uniqueness in its full glare.
The technology hub
Dubbed Africa’s Silicon Valley, Nairobi is driving the continent’s tech startups and a lot has been invested in modern ICT through the tech hubs. Most of the city’s young and aspiring tech specialists gather at the annual Nairobi Tech Week – the biggest of its kind in Sub-Saharan Africa – to learn from the industry leaders while sharing inventive ideas through developer workshops.
According to Citiscope, Kenya’s impressive technology growth has been powered by among other factors the submarine fiber optic cable which ignited tech-inventions such as the futuristic tech-hub Konza city, startups like Shop Soko, while at the same time attracting global hi-tech giants like Google, IBM and Intel which have all set up their Africa offices in the city’s affluent suburbs. Such achievements have inspired other startups that heavily boosted the conception of virtual worlds specializing in online shopping, e-learning, social media, and a lot more. Just last year, Facebook founder MaZuckerbergerg paid a visit to the tech community iHub where he learned about the mobile money – a native invention in which Kenya is a global leader.
Adventures and Safari
Almost everyone apprehends that Nairobi is the only capital city in the world with a national park within its boundaries – the Nairobi National Park. It’s also christened as the world’s adventure and safari capital b’se it’s from here that wild adventure excursions kickoff. Safari adventures and game drives take place in Nairobi National Park and other adjacent wild habitats like Amboseli, Mt. Kenya, Mt. Longonot, Meru, Lake Nakuru, Aberdare, Hell’s Gate and Maasai Mara. Nairobi’s environs host an array of wild activities such as bird watching, camping, game viewing (off road and hot air balloon), horse riding, photography, trekking, biking, rock climbing, picnics, and a lot more. Other things to do within the vicinities of Nairobi include observing the Great Rift Valley, historical monuments, galleries, museums, botanical gardens, city walks and hiking in the nearby Ngong hills.
Splendid recreational facilities
As a vivacious city of lively people, Nairobi is never short of leisurely activities especially on weekends for those who work hard and deserve some pleasant fun. From being the top golfing safari destination to hosting major international sporting events like the Safari Sevens rugby tournament, the U18 Youth Athletic Championship, and the Kenya Premier League. Nairobi is also notable for its upscale malls like the Two Rivers Mall – Africa’s largest, Westgate, The Junction Mall, Thika Road Mall, Capital Center, The Hub Karen, and the Sarit Center. It’s in these malls that fashion, beauty, shopping, eating, arts and culture plus entertainment blend under one roof all patronized by huge supermarkets, banks and forex bureaus, cinemas, theaters, restaurants, bars and theme parks that cater all ages. Nairobi’s booming malls have attracted world famous brands like LC Waikiki, Burger King, KFC, Steers, Nike, Adidas, Mr. Price, Woolworths, Bossini, Magic Planet, Spur Steak, Swarovski, Madora, and a lot more are coming.
Hotspot for global connections
Nairobi’s prominent status in the international arena is reinforced by the presence of a large number of international bodies that have pitched camp within the city. Its prime location within the African Great Lakes region where global attention is most needed to tackle hunger, wars, and poverty, Nairobi has always been the principal base for all operations of several Inter and Non-governmental organizations from where they carry out their humanitarian duties. These include the United Nations and its partner organizations like UNEP, UN-HABITAT, ICRC, Amnesty International, British Council, etc. The full list of other international organizations maintaining a stronghold in Nairobi can be found here. Last year, Oxfam announced that it will move its headquarters to Nairobi while others are still envisioning of so doing. Nairobi’s reputation is also visible in the over 50 diplomatic missions from other countries and the series of international gatherings held weekly in the city most prominent among these being last year’s UNCTAD.
As I put these signs of a flourishing Nairobi before an uncompromising Mark, I made it clear to him that even though Nairobi is moderately unsafe and has no stunning beaches (they’re in fact 280 miles east) still it bears all the hallmarks of Africa’s cultural, political, economic and entertainment capital. With more than four million inhabitants and of whom 80% are the vibrant youths, surely Nairobi is on course to become the regional and continental leader in every aspect of human lifestyle. From my honest perspective, Nairobi will always remain a rising star whose transformation keeps glowing with every sunrise…