An obituary for the hustler’s paradise
SEE ALSO :The unusual hustlers' denIt was enclosed, not by a wall, but a layer of kiosks that hid the rest of the market. I recently visited the market looking for a ‘small item’. Inside the market, the alleys were narrow – no space was left to waste. There were also so many alleys that you weren’t sure which one to take. But whichever one you end up on, you’d quickly be convinced you’re in a hustlers’ paradise. There were tailors with their sewing machines, reminding one of the good old days in the countryside when tailors made our uniforms and patched our clothes. Just before schools opened, we underwent the ritual of ‘taking measurements’. There were nyama choma joints, with smoke billowing over the roofs and the scent making one salivate. It was not clear where one would sit to eat the meat, so it was most likely take-away.
SEE ALSO :How to set up an online shop for freeThere were fruits and fresh juices on sale. There were eateries, barbers at work, cobblers hard at work, watch repairers, plumbers and their wares, and other hustlers. Everyone getting into the market seemed to know everyone else well, and they’d converse in their local language. The market was very relaxed despite being in one of Nairobi‘s most affluent suburbs. Class consciousness Westlands market’s activities compare favourably to any village in Kenya, from Shamakhokho to Kimbimbi. The big question is, who patronised this market?
SEE ALSO :Do hustlers know it's Christmas?It’s not hard to explain. Lots of hustlers pass through Westlands from Kangemi and adjoining low-income residencies. There’s always a mass of people crossing Waiyaki Way near the Westlands roundabout. There are also lots of affluent Nairobians who miss the simplicity of the countryside or want to save some money by avoiding ‘professional services’. The paradise also had hard-to-find services like watch repair. The market showed that despite all our class consciousness, we need one another. We can co-exist harmoniously. Yet, as was the case last week, we often see such structures as a nuisance that deserve to be pulled down for ‘development’. But contrary to this view, such markets are seedbeds that nurture hustlers into sonkos. After all, except for the few who inherit their wealth or steal by stealth, most of Kenya‘s affluent were once innocent hustlers. It is sad to have to say goodbye to this paradise.