Every day, I fall in love with this city more and more.

It’s about time I confess why I have been spamming my social media accounts with pictures of Nairobi.

I spend a lot of my free time on Instagram and noticed that the tags ‘Nairobi‘ and ‘Kenya‘ show very little of our beautiful country and my beautiful city. By and large the tags are images related to Nairobi National Park, The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Animal Orphanage, The Giraffe Centre or the Kibera slums. If this images are anything to go by, then Nairobi is a city full of animals that are fed by tourists, a huge slum that is fed by tourists and a devastated city that tourists are helping to rebuild. These tourists are giving us water, food and helping build schools and churches. Now don’t get me wrong, I have no objection to what tourists do, after all tourism is one of our largest sources of income. BUT that is not the Nairobi that I live in.

Whereas the few pictures uploaded by Kenyan’s are either club scenes or the regular food and drink photos. Very few people are actively trying to populate social media with wonderful images that portray the daily life of Kenyans. From those few, there are only a handful that are being recognized for what they do.

Nairobi is a vibrant city and the world needs to see that. So I decided to head out with my phone and my camera to take pictures of Nairobi. I guess you are now waiting to hear about how I got robbed off my belongings. I didn’t.

On the contrary, I was harassed by zealous watchmen for photographing their buildings whice are ‘private property’ and should not be photographed; I was harassed by Nairobi City Council workers (wo alsoe refused to show their identity cards) for ‘taking photos without a commercial licence,’ who did not understand an iota about hobby photography. Then I understood that these are the same people who are the reason that we will never have images of our city that we can be proud off. They will harass and frustrate you but smile and wave at ‘tourists.’

This city is growing and it is growing fast, we need to document this for our future generations. More importantly, we need to show the world that we are a bright modern city.

Nairobi city glowing in the dusk sun.
Nairobi city glowing in the dusk sun.

I wish we could walk freely around Nairobi, take photos and post one picture a day of our beautiful Nairobi. I wish we could be allowed to take photos of our city without being bullied by watchmen, city council askaris and policemen. I wish we could show the world our NAIROBI.

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6 thoughts on “Every day, I fall in love with this city more and more.

  • Hi Samir,
    I think you bring up an interesting point. As a blogger, I use the Nairobi hashtag on Instagram in hopes that a Nairobian will come across my image, like what they see, and like the image/follow me. As you noted, I found it irregularly populated and almost decided to stop using the hashtag. Yet, I still do because (as you said) people (globally) should be able to see our beautiful Nairobi! Kind of like the hashtag #TheAfricaTheMediaNeverShowsYou. Would be really cool to see if we could push for it! Get friends using the hashtag etc. 🙂 Really enjoyed this post!

    Like

    • Hi Soni,
      Many thanks for enjoying this post. It is sad that we are stuck in a conundrum where we can not show people the real side of Nairobi and when we do, we are harassed for it.
      Social media has its goods and evils – with photo theft being one of the main deterrents – thus people are vary of what and how they share.
      I do agree with you and do feel that we need to make showcasing our beauty go viral (not necessarily with that particular hashtag) but if we cannot show what we are proud about, we cannot expect to be noticed, right?

      Liked by 1 person

  • Interesting post and something most photographers can probably relate to at different levels. In the US we found security guards very suspicious of us taking pictures of their buildings, although if we stepped back onto the public pavement then it was deemed ok – just not from on their own property. But ‘tourists’ with compacts or camera phones were not perceived as threats! Would love to see a photo post of the ‘real’ Nairobi from the perspective of a local!!!! (hint hint) We’ve only visited Cape Town in Africa so far but hoping to see much more in the next year or two. Kenya is on our list 🙂 Cheers

    Liked by 1 person

    • In Kenya, once you add corrupt policemen and disillusioned security guards to the mix, the soup gets even thicker. I feel its mainly a power trip but it’s not conducive to art. It will be awesome to show you around Nairobi, harassment and all.

      Liked by 1 person

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