If you conduct a quick survey on the most beautiful views in Nairobi, most people will pick Upper Hill, the green stretch from Kenya Railway Golf Club to the University of Nairobi, the skyscrapers in the central business district, and Uhuru Park, which mimics London’s Hyde Park.
Architects even hold competitions to identify the iconic buildings in the city or in Kenya.
But my choice on the most beautiful view in Kenya is not a building or a landscape. It’s the sight of a woman carrying a child on her back and walking in CBD.
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It’s a rare sight, but there’s something magical about a small child strapped to the back of a mother as she walks around. While it’s more common to see in rural areas, it’s quite rare in the city.
Carrying a baby on the back is common among the hustlers who don’t own cars. The baby often feels secure and unbothered. The mother is in control. The sight reminds us of how we all grew up, cared for by our mothers.
When we were growing up, most men wouldn’t touch a baby, but today, they do – they even change diapers. The absence of diapers back in the day is probably what made men shy away from this noble responsibility.
You could tell if a home had a small baby by the number of white nappies drying out under the sun.
So, how has baby care changed? For one, it’s been outsourced to househelps among the upper and middle classes. Some are even bold enough to take their baby minders to public places when they’re in their uniforms. Is it a status symbol?
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Taking care of babies – the next generation – is one of the world’s most prestigious jobs, so one wonders why it’s outsourced. If procreation is not outsourced, why the taking care of the outcome?
But we must give credit, some mothers stop working to take of the next generation. But economic realities force lots of mothers to juggle both work and baby care.
We can blame hectic work schedules but also a bit of selfishness. If you look back at the critical work done by your househelp, she should be in your will.
Despite the critical role played by these househelps in bringing up children, we don’t give them the respect they deserve. Perhaps it’s all economics – their supply is too high, and that brings down their wages and the prestige of their position.
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The prevalence of the outsourcing of baby care is another reason the sight of a mother with a baby strapped to her back wins, for me, as the most beautiful sight in Nairobi. Do you have a baby? How often do you carry him or her on your back? Are you proud of that?
[XN Iraki; [email protected]; Twitter: @Hustlenomics7]