Anthony Ndiema (Photo Courtesy)

I first came to Nairobi in 2000 when I had just finished high school and had been admitted to the University for a Course I did not like. So, I had to go to the Joint Admissions Board’s HQs at the University of Nairobi to change it. 

The day I travelled from my village in Webuye, I had alighted at Machakos Country Bus, which was the Eldoret Express terminus those days. I was feeling important in a double-breasted green suit, blue shirt with a flowered tie and moccasins. 

My father had a map with all directions written down, accompanied by graphical presentations. However, I got so confused when I alighted from the bus.

I started walking towards an unknown direction and found myself in Grogan Garage near Ngara. I was in the midst of mechanics, who looked at me wondering what was wrong with me. I had been told to only ask for directions from a pastor or a watchman. Luckily, I saw a pastor preaching and immediately approached him to ask for help. Unfortunately he conned me. 

He was so willing to walk with me to the University of Nairobi and because of my naivety, he saw an opportunity to make quick cash. He then started saying that God was speaking to him about my life. He was going to pray for me so that as I change my university programme I would excel.

He had gathered so much from what I had told him and somehow convinced me to give him money as an offering so that he would ‘talk’ to God on my behalf to bless me. I then gave him Sh2,000, which I had saved to buy a hi-fi system (I thought it was cheaper in Nairobi but come to think of it, that was so little). I remained with Sh500. He even asked an example from the Bible on Elijah.

He then left me at a certain joint as he pretended to get something from a shop. I somehow managed to get to the university where I met a girl from Nairobi.  As shady as I was I made an attempt to hit on her but she rudely told me off. She said I was too shady. I can still hear her mean words of rejection echo in my head: “Sorry I do not deal with village men. Just go back to your tiny village and get a girl of your type”. It was a very bad day. I was done with my business at the university in an hour and walked out of the campus.

I waited for one hour. I then went to Jevanjee Gardens to rest. On my way there I was really amazed by the endless stream of new cars. I was used to very old Chevrolet pick-ups back in the village.

I was also amazed by Lilian Towers. I thought it would fall on me. I had heard a story that a brick had fallen on one of the University of Nairobi students and killed her. I even knew that her name was Stella Awinja and a hostel had been named after her. I rested at Jevanjee till evening and walked back to Machakos Country Bus to travel back home.

 At the station, I was roughed up by conductors who were trying to convince me to board their bus. They even ruined my blazers buttons. All in all it was a very short but interesting experience. I went back home hungry, beaten, rejected by a Nairobian girl and Sh100 as change after paying my bus fare.

Interview by Cate Mukei