African Culture And Traditions

Or what to do when you are somehow stuck in an African metropolis
Monday, August 1, 2016 to Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Introduction: finding and preparing a new challenge

The social project that brought me to Africainfo-icon was finished. For half a year I was living in San Francisco and Nairobi. At Angaza, I could work with a young and highly motivated team. Together we grew as a company and improved our products for the low-cost solar market. Now, the time has come to find a new opportunity or challenge. For another month, I was staying in Nairobi and preparing my next big adventure. I was enjoying my life without responsibilities and dealing with local culture and authorities.

Lifestyle: generally easy going and hard to rely upon

Thanks to the internet, I was living in an affordable room with locals. In comparison to most foreigners, I was walking a lot and using public transportation. I tried to get around a lot and visited many areas in town. By spending much time with locals, I discovered a few behavior patterns. Hakuna Matata: in Africa, time is relative and everybody notoriously late. People often do not realize how they get lost in time. Surviving of the fittest: those who are fighting and standing up are better off. Nevertheless, many people are barking louder than they bite. No fair play: people are not held accountable for mistakes they have made. I have heard many apologies but seen few consequences.

Culinary: eating in a hidden backyard or on the street

The Kenyan kitchen is not extraordinary, but I enjoyed it a lot. Only on a few occasions, I was eating international cuisine. To my surprise, I found delicious Pizza and Sushi in hidden backyard restaurants. My favorite western adaption was the localized coffee shops, serving Cappuccino and flavored Café Late. But most of the time, I enjoyed local food, such as Chapati (flatbread) and Ugali (staple food of maize). Many adorable “mammies” are serving a selection of homemade food in the streets. For as little as one or two dollars, you get a large plate filled with different dishes. This food reminded me a lot of the Swiss countryside.

Culture: hidden behind faceless walls, but still there

African culture and traditions are slowly and silently evolving. As a European citizen, I was first only looking at the preserved traditions. In Kenyainfo-icon, it’s mostly the arts, craft, and dances of the Masai people. Next, I discovered the imported entertainment products like cinema and music. It took me a while to discover the hidden local productions. Behind the malls of faceless buildings, I found contemporary African art exhibitions. With new local friends, I enjoyed Jazz in the green and fashion between railways. Nairobi is not drowning in culture but clearly offers a lot.

Nightlife: finding the right places and people after all

At night, young locals and expats are getting louder. Both groups like to drink a lot of alcohol and forget the sorrows of everyday life. As for myself, I enjoyed getting into the mood and music of different places. My personal preferred style of music and clubbing is not represented well. Nevertheless, I found great sound and amazing people, dancing together through the night. Most fun I was having with locals, enjoying my electronic music as well as African beats. Once again I realized, that I need bumping beats and ecstatically raving people.

Buying a car: mechanical and administrative problems

As my next adventure, I started to plan a big road trip in Africa. After some research, I decided to buy my own car in Nairobi. After a while, this turned out to become a real nightmare. Because I did not stay long enough in Kenya, I did not have a social security number and could not register the car on my name. None of the officials in several departments was able to assure me, that I would be able to cross any border. In the end, I found support at the AA (automobile association) and acquired a Carnet de Passage. The purchase itself was a disaster. After looking at several cars, I clearly decided for the wrong one. The closer the mechanic inspected the car, the more problems he found. I knew it will not be easy, but I never expected that many issues.

Summary: taking my time to enjoy and prepare

Without any doubts, I decided to extend my stay in Nairobi. After all, I clearly enjoyed city life in one of Africa’s largest metropolis. Adapting to the lifestyle never was an issue for me. Finally, I had the time to dig deeper and find more hidden gems. Spending time with dear new friends was valuable and enjoyable. Also, I needed this time to prepare my next big trip. This clearly took more time than I was hoping for. My excitement grew every day and I felt like a child before Christmas!

Great thanks to everybody who spent great quality time with me!

My waypoints on this journey