This may come as a surprise to those who grew up in leafy suburbs or sprawling red roofed estates. You see, deep in the low class Eastland residential areas, there was once a fantastic living arrangement that could be best described as 'maisha ya ploti'. For those unfamiliar with the term 'plot' in the ghetto context, it is a small residential 'complex' complete with mostly ten or less small roomed apartments (really studios) sharing a common bathroom, usually with one mabati gate. Those still feigning ignorance can at least remember the KBC program 'Plot 10'. That's what I'm talking about. Here folks recognized neighbors as 'majirani'.
While the living in 'Plot 10' was mostly squalor and lacked any form of privacy, it had very many positives. For one, it allowed the peaceful co-existence of people from all Kenyan cultures bound together by the need for affordable housing and a specter of security. At the height of this residential phenomena, one plot would house families from the Kikuyu, Luo, Luhya, Somali, Swahili, Kisii, Kalenjin etc. It is the interesting cross-cultural social interactions that led to the development of comedies like 'Plot 10', Vitimbi etc. Those were the times when majirani would huddle around the only black and white TV in the plot and laugh with each other at the generalization of cultural characters and traits. These 'plots' produced the most tribe-less Kenyans on earth.
Today, Mzee Ojwang's copyrighted squeal, yaani 'Mama Kayai, fwanya haraka aaiiiiiiiiii!!!'…. could be considered a war cry in some 'plots'.
Folks, welcome to the New Kenya. A sincere assessment confirms that strict tribal enclaves are mushrooming all over Nairobi today. The search for peace of mind requires that you be very aware of where you rent or buy any type of property....based on nothing but your tribe or ethnicity. You need not waste your time or risk your security by putting in your rental application in areas where your ethnicity is not considered favorable. Slums like Kibera, Mathare etc already have clearly demarcated boundaries; you cross, you die. The same divisions are slowly creeping into middleclass areas like Umoja and Buruburu. Before too long, primary schools within these areas will have no choice but to follow suit. What type of patriotic Kenyans will we produce from the upcoming one-tribe primary school in the middle of Nairobi? Can you imagine the fiasco that will be the inter-school games/debate etc?
Ok, for those still thinking that this is primarily a low class tenancy issue, how many successful Luos/Kalenjins are confidently moving into the affluent Runda Estate? Does the decision to instead move to Langata or elsewhere have anything to do with the fact that Runda is pretty much in the Kikuyu Kiambu district?
What about the Ogiek like me? Should I therefore live on top of KICC because no Nairobi estate recognizes my existence?
Hii mambo gani bwana?