Nairobians are a weird lot. One will live for years in an apartment and never say hello to their neighbours. We care less.
That explains why the Nyumba Kumi initiative flopped just like Uhuru’s laptop project. Here are some of the habits of a typical Nairobian neighbour:
1. Refuse to share gate keys
There’s an obsession in plots and apartments across the city on not leaving the gate open.
As bad luck would have it, you might forget to carry the gate key or after an evening of killing bottles of Tusker, your key might let you go home alone. And lo! You’ll languish at the gate. Knocking and knocking while the neighbours ignore your pleas to open the gate.
2. No greetings, please
You might always meet the childless couple residing on the floor above yours each evening, or the pastor who keeps you up on Friday with powerful prayers, or the woman who always shouts at her house help; but you will almost never say hi to each other.
Is it bad manners or maringo?
3. No sharing Sunday supper chapos
As a bachelor, you play with their three-year-old kids, take selfies with the darn babies, buying them sweets and biscuits whenever the congregation in your wallet says yes and yet, when their mothers’ make chapos on Sunday, even the piece a baby should walk around with as a show off huwezi ona.
4. Kids know each other. Their parents snob each other
Only children, so I heard or read somewhere, will enter the kingdom of God because of the purity of their hearts. Neighbours (parents) only get to know each other when a child in the plot has a birthday and he or she has invited his child or when his child’s bike or toy has been stolen by that fat girl from house number 14.
5. Stare as your clothes get rained on
Since you reside in the same plot or flat, chances are high that you all share clotheslines. Now, there’s a dudu in the hearts and heads of neighbours - house helps, housewives and bachelors - who’ll just let your clothes get rained on after unhanging theirs. What happened to love your neighbour as you love yourself?
6. You can’t punish their kids!
The Good Book (Proverbs 29:15) reads; “A rod and reproof impart wisdom, but a child who is unrestrained brings shame to his mother.” Try using a rod or imparting wisdom on this riff-raff most Nairobians are raising and watch how fast their mothers will come for your small intestines.
7. The bachelor and bachelorettes don’t do it in silent mode
Men and women who fornicate in plots don’t do it silently. Your neighbours need not hear your safe word or how you, a six-foot, built man wails like a toddler after ‘orgasming.’ And for goodness sake! Some of your neighbours have children and they are tired of being asked why Winnie wa house number 10 cries whenever a man visits her.
8. When praying, please tone down the Riswa! and Amen!
Christians, did not the Son of Man say something like; “Pray to the Lord in private, in secret or quietly, instead of shouting like the Pharisees? Anyway, I don’t know. What I know is that some of you who have ushirika, chama ya kanisa and what not, disturb your fellow neighbours with your raging prayers.
9. Hosting family parties
If you’ve been to Umoja II or Umoja I, you might have passed by a plot comprised of five houses.
Now, one of the occupants of the plot might be hosting a graduation or pre-wedding party, complete with huge food hot-pots and an ululating congregation right in the middle of the plot, bringing to a standstill the normal activities of other residents. Jamani, please rent a school ground.
10. Borrow iron boxes and ‘forgeting’ to return them
There are lots of hawkers, selling new and second-hand iron boxes, so save up some money. Go to a shop. A second-hand dealer and buy yourself and family an iron box. Its bad manners when your neighbour knocks on your door at 10pm or 5am asking for his iron box!