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Intrigues of X-mas in ‘shags’

By By OYUNGA PALA | December 23rd 2013


KENYA: Christmas cheer is in the air and most people will want to know, where you are going for Christmas? The exodus from Nairobi is in full swing and most of it is headed upcountry to that place we call shags. 

While the organised Nairobians would have made advance plans, I can guarantee you that the vast majority prefers to wait until the last moment before making a decision.

Advance planning is just not a national trait. In theory, a beach holiday would be ideal but two days to Christmas, we suddenly realize that we cannot afford it.

The plan B destination is likely to be shags, where we are guaranteed free accommodation if you can figure out how to get out of the city with your brood before December 25.

For the next many days leading up to the end of the year, Nairobi’s roads will breathe a sigh of relief as the mayhem is transferred to small towns, centres and villages around the country.

Two days out the city and a Nairobian cannot help but pontificate about the importance of a life-work balance and family, getting  nostalgic, recalling the simplicity of the old days, amazed that they managed to have so much fun with so little cash. 

You can pick them out when they come strutting into the village with cases of mineral water.


They will be perennially swiping their smart phones, making and receiving endless calls in a desperate attempt to find a party within radius where other Nairobians are gathered.

A true Nairobian never looks a gift horse in the mouth unless it is raining and transport is an issue.

When an offer of free booze and grub is announced, one responds promptly for there will be lean times come January.

The idea is to hop from one party to the next because it will be another year before one encounters this level of generosity.

There is also a long list of people to see and things to do.   A grandmother’s sugar is due.

Cousins demand a beer debt carried forward from last Christmas.

A relative who never had time for you in Nairobi, will be on the phone revealing that he has a bottle of single malt whisky and no worthy company to share it with. The wife will have her preferred schedule of events and complain that her interests are not included in the meet and greet tour.

The children will start complaining of boredom hardly three days into the holiday and spend all their time fiddling with your smartphone indoors.


Eventually, after managing expectations all day, one’s escapes to the nearest local to argue about the political intrigues of the day, wondering why the county chief is unable to make power moves like Machakos governor Alfred Mutua.

Boxing Day will be spent nursing a hangover and reminiscing over the events of the last 24 hours.

On December 27, the pressure returns as you try to figure out how to get the troops back to Nairobi before the New Year rush as the cash stock is dwindling rapidly.

By the time you get back to the city in time for the New Year, one is so tired that they will need another a holiday to unwind from their upcountry holiday.

Have a merry Christmas.

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