Thursday, August 11, 2011

Nairobi at Night

NAMED AFTER DEDANI Kimathi, the legendary Mau Mau leader and the icon of African struggle against colonialism, Kimathi Street should embody freedom, human dignity and liberty.

But whatever transpires here from dawn to dusk on weekends would make Dedan Kimathi stir in his yet-to-be-identified grave.

Kimathi Street, thanks to the numerous bars, banks, take-away food joints and a five-star hotel, is already a 24- hour business hub.

Not even the fire that gutted the popular Nakumatt shopping store a few years ago could slow the street’s nocturnal pacee.

On Fridays and weekends, people start thronging pubs along this zone as early as 4pm such that by 7pm, they are fully packed. Those places lucky enough to have a spacious sidewalk like Tropez and Giggles accommodate more patrons by setting up tables outside.

“There are those who prefer sitting outside even when there is space inside. They either want to enjoy fresh air or just watch people, cars and life pass by,” comments a club manager.

As the night advances both human and vehicular traffic rises with the intensity of an excited heartbeat as more people pour into this pleasure zone.

“The good thing with Kimathi Street is that one is always spoilt for choice. If for instance the music being played at Seasons is not to my taste I can easily change venue to Riviera or Bettyz within a few minutes,” explains a reveller, Lee Mwandiki.

As the evening progresses, vendors set up stalls hawking sweets, biscuits, cigarettes, movies and, as expected, condoms.

Unlike in the daytime when buying a condom is a secret and closely guarded affair, at night the condoms are not only displayed openly but they also come in their multi-flavoured splendour — vanilla, strawberry and mint.

“The most selling products at night are cigarettes, followed closely by condoms. Although almost all pubs sell cigarettes not all of them sell condolms.” said James Muchoki, a nocturnal hawker. For many, night life in Nairobi begins and ends at Kimathi Street.

“I like this place is because the parking along the street is quite safe and you can walk from the club to the car and back without encountering muggers,” says Peter Mwabili, a regular patron at Giggles and Riviera.

In an ironic way, Dedan Kimathi’s name will remain exalted among Kenyans not only by his heroic acts or his statue but by the fact that the street named in his honour stands out as the heartbeat of Nairobi at night.

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