For Nairobians without a formal job, the hustle is real and they have to employ every trick in the book to earn a living. Variously described as shamba la mawe, the city is a tough place for someone without a source of income, yet he has to survive. Thus every morning, many Nairobians leave their homes to engage in these strange jobs, some of them barely legit.
1. Luggage carriers
This breed of men appears God-sent for someone who has just landed in Machakos Airport bus station from upcountry. They volunteer to carry your luggage and lead you to the next bus stop, unbelievably without vanishing with your property or demanding a coin. But wait, on arrival they will slap you with a demand of Sh200 for the service. This is a must pay and if you resist, a brood menace looking men appear from nowhere and side with the man.
2. Human porters
With Nairobi prone to flash floods every time the skies opens up, this hardworking men come hardy in carrying you on their back across that flooded road. Sometimes they use a mkokoteni. Should they demand unreasonably high fee, just pay. Remember their work is seasonal consigning them to msoto during dry times like now.
3. Queue holders
A common feature in various government offices are queues that stretch several mile and which move at tortoise's speed. As you shove, curse and sweat in that seemingly unmoving queue at KRA, you can be sure that the guy two places from you is lining to earn his daily bread. Simply put, he is queuing on behalf of someone else who is running other errands and who will arrive on reaching the service point some three hours later.
4. Ticket holders
These ingenious people made a killing when SGR was just launched where travellers booked at terminal stations in the absence of the convenience of mobile and online booking. With some capital, they would buy several tickets and then lie in wait to sell the same at a profit to travellers in a hurry. The trick still happens in long distance buses where they book VIP and first class seats. They work in cahoots with ticket officers to avert losses.
5. Baby leasers
A baby is a gift from God that parents cherish. Some mums lease their babies to women and at times to men stuck in winding queues such as those witnessed during elections. The latter pretend the infants are theirs and, voila, they jump queues.
6. Kuokoa jam
If you are driving your aging jalopy along Thika Superway and it breaks down on the middle of the road without giving warning, you must thank these men. They appear suddenly and help you push your car from the danger of speeding traffic and from the traffic police who will charge you with obstruction. In appreciation, be ready to cough some good chums to them.
7. Parking boys
They are a nuisance alright, but if you can't beat them, do the wise and join them. Even after paying parking fee to the kanjo, you must sort out that street urchin you are trying to ignore if you want to come back and find your side mirrors intact.
8. Green lodging attendants
This job is done by lowly paid watchmen guarding property in dingy corridors. This is how it works. A man who desires to unleash bodily urges but is short cash to hire a lodging enters into an agreement with a night nurse that they turn the dark corridor into a "badminton" arena. The man pays Sh50 to the watchman for permission and security.
9. Property rescue
In case you live or run a business inside a building built on riparian land, you have a reason to worry. Demolitions are happening left, right and centre. Now there is a group of youths who turn up to help tenants move their property when the bulldozers roars to the building. You will pay them for it, unless it is a humongous piece of ugali that they rescue and share among their ilk.
10. Clothes leasers
Imagine arriving for that interview only to realise you are the only one without a tie or a professional looking coat. Don't be surprised if a man approaches to lease you the attire that might help you make a score and land that job.