Monday, July 14, 2008

of fences and gates

Jana, i took a walk around south c where i recently moved. actually i was looking for a barber. part of familiarization tour as well. i walked almost around the entire estate and found myself at capital center only to find the barber shop closed. then went back to the shopping center where i got a very good young man to do the head job. I discovered that the estate is actually a conglomeration of mini gated estates or are they courts and that also answered the most intriguing question i have had since i moved these sides.

A number of issues both within and without my control had conspired to move me from the leafy, nay country-side suburbs of lower kabete where we drunk milk directly from the cows teats and woke up to the crows of the fowls, to the concrete jungle of kilimani where traffic never ceased to zoom past and finally to the estate of the traffic jam. that story has already been told.

And that traffic jam has always baffled me. getting out of the estate itself is a nightmare. however yesterday i found out why. For one, the courts are all gated some within a larger common gated compound meaning that there are no bypasses or outlets for cars. it means therefore that there is only one 'freeway' around the esto. So when cars 'pour' out they are bound to get locked in the maze.

secondly, almost every gated court i saw yesterday had at least one or two cars squeezed inside the small compound. which explains why i seldom meet matatus on the road. it means that public transport is very poor.

Third, i noticed that the one road left for all of us is pretty narrow so overtaking even a non-roadworthy junkie is out of the question during busy hours.

But i found other interesting things about the place. one good thing is that the old style houses have maintained their original design and modifications are few and far between. maybe coz most owners appear to be Asians who unlike their counterparts in buru buru may not have been greedy for an extra 3k for an extension. But one thing that is not in short supply is the variety of gates and fences! from the simple designer gates to the elaborate tall gates with spikes or broken bottles to keep off the buglers. in fact from the gates and fences you can easily tell the houses apart. some wall fences i saw, apart from being very tall, had on top of them; broken bottles, electric fence wires and curled razor wire fence! talk of not wanting to leave anything to chance. But the one i found most amusing was one tall walled fence with kayaba(sp) trees planted around it. real security

Another thing i have learnt is that pple in these parts of the world go to bed pretty early. no local bars or 'heng' joints and even though we are normally stuck in traffic during the day, you don't meet any traffic after 8pm and most lights are out. one day i sighed with disappointment thinking that there was a power blackout since most windows were dark only to see a security light on at one of the gates yet it was only 9pm! which is strange given the number of GTV satellite dishes all over the place.

Talking of 'heng', last week i saw first hand who has been hit hardest by the runway inflation. my favorite joint where we used to go early to ensure we got a nice table was virtually empty even though a re-known benga artist was visiting town and playing real live music and not lip sync. maybe inflation is not bad after all since it keeps families together!


  1. Yes that is true ,I lived in South C for 25 years .Its slowly going as an slum or Kenyan hood Thanks to the extrax 3k from sevant quaters mostly in Mugoya. Gates were as result of car jackkers which targetted South C due to its position to escape to Tanzania. This controlled. Its a cool place mostly papulated by 60%somali and 25 Asians,it a working class so don't expect anyone out after 9 PM. Bad side we suffer Mombasa HWY gridlock diversion( we pray for soutthern bypass very quickly) Old South C is clean and qiut yet .
    welcome to South C

  2. South C if you are looking for a simple quiet life, beats South B. Yes the roads do need some work and depending on what part of South C you live in, getting out can be a headache. If you live in the estates closer to Mombasa rd ie the many apartments, Belle Vue etc you are okay but if you live around 5 star and such that is another story, you have to leave early.
    Yes, South C people do prefer to drink at home or in Nairobi West. It's only during soccer that I do think this makes for a safer more quiet neighborhood so it never bothered me.
    The class of people does change from mini estate to mini estate, I think the age of the estates could have a role since some are long time residents while others are not.
    But I do agree with the previous poster the vast rise of apartment complexes and rental of SQs has beefed up the population but also let in many riff raff and worn out the neighbourhood somewhat, taking away some of the former gloss.
    Funny though how you can live so close to the city centre but it takes you so long to get there given the M road jam.
    Thanks for the good post and the flashback!

  3. South C had/have houses that had individual style coz the Mhindis had built houses for themselves. Not to rent or sell.

    A pity what is happening but...

  4. Wow, there seems to be so much love for the south estate!

    But it sure is a 'polite' estate compared to the madness in other areas within Nairobi

  5. talking of raving, kenyans are getting broke and broke by the day, what with the inflation, runaway high prices...


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