A Quick Note On The War
Usually here on the Street we are indifferent to what is happening at the national level. There is a general feeling the government doesn't belong to us, and little of what it does adds money to our pockets. Quite a number here will blame the failure of the government for their decision to come to the Street. Debatable but just shows how detached many are.
Whenever we have to join in the national conversation then we do it in a very pedestrian way, if not in an opportunistic selfish way. I remember how at the start of the constitutional referendum campaigns many of us said " Hope the campaigns will bring in money". Whether to vote yes or no mattered not .That was until a rumor spread that the new constitution was passed the police would have no authority to arrest us. It sounded an unimaginable but a strong enough point to support the Yes side. Then there was talk of abortion being legalized; another reason that triggered interest in the referendum. A year after the constitution was passed; the policemen and city council askari remain our top enemies. The ' benefits' of the new constitution are no longer talked about here.
The war on Al Shabaab didn't seem a big deal here. It wasn't something worth conversation, until the grenade blasts. And then it was not about fear of being attacked or loss of business, but the possibility of increased harassment. " Now the police will flood everywhere" someone said " We wont have peace". Then Elgiva was found with 13 grenades in Kayole estate. That became the talk of the Street because there are many here who live in the estate. At first it was about how policeman are now like 'ants' in Kayole. Then after a day or two of reduced business and fear of police, the army operation became a major thing here; more in self preservation and a little racist way.
In recent times there have been many foreigners joining the trade. The most prominent are the Ethiopians and Eritreans. But there are also those of Somali origin. Here, like in most of the country, there is no patience in discovering whether the Somalis are of Kenyan origin or from Somalia; we lump them together. The Ethiopians, Eritreans and 'Somali' tend to be popular with men. Many have above average looks, and men want to sample the exotic. From a business point of view we, the 'locals' dislike them; we feel they give us unfair competition. With the war is Somalia and the government talking of rounding up foreigners many here believe all the exotic will be deported. Nowadays its common to hear the 'foreigners' being taunted by the us locals about their forthcoming deportation. The taunting is done jokingly but the local girls actually believe and want it to happen. To a large extent its unfortunate.
The soldiers, for the wrong reasons, are our new heroes. But when they come back they wont get it for free. That said the war has not affected our business much. Grenade or not girls still report to the Street faithfully. There is a certain believe of invincibility among us. Of course its an illusion, but without it we would starve. On the other hand men are still coming, and not opting to stay in the houses , alone, with girlfriend or wife. Yet its not entirely surprising ;there is a certain fighter, optimistic and most important arrogant spirit among a section of the Nairobi population, both men and women. And its this spirit that keeps this city rolling and brings money to our pockets.
All the best dear soldiers.