THE NAIROBI HAWKER

Sugar kills your brain cells. Apparently, it really does. I recently stumbled upon this horrid fact as I was rummaging aimlessly for nothing in particular on the internet. It’s one of those things you wish you hadn’t come across because  now I’m worried sick about the state of my brain. I’ve been indulging in a lot of sugary treats layely (I do like my things extremely sweet) so you can understand my panic. I bet it’s a gory mess up there; poor brain cells.  So if you happen to meet me and I showcase a certain level of dim-wittedness, well, please forgive me, it was the sugar’s fault.


Hawkers, nay, scratch that, Nairobi Hawkers are a special breed. They are the most tenacious beings this side of the world has seen. You think roaches are stubborn? Well, wait till you meet the Nairobi hawker. They are akin to the bedbugs crawling in boys’ university hostels that refuse to be exterminated at all cost. One needs to take a stroll along the famous Ngara or Moi Avenue Street from around 4 to 6pm to get a clear picture of what I am trying to say. The epic Kanjo (county council officers) and hawker battles leave you wondering why some filmmaker somewhere hasn’t thought of creating reality action TV clips of the same.

If you thought Usain Bolt was fast, wait till you see a Nairobi hawker run upon sighting a NCC van. Flash has nothing on these people. One minute you’re bent over trying on some shoes, the next you’re left standing all alone, dazed and confused, wondering what just happened.

How they manage to dash with all their wares intact is beyond me. No hawker who is worth their salt ever leaves any of their goods behind. I tend to think it’s part of the Sacred Hawker Code or something.

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Hawkers fleeing form Kanjo

Nairobi Hawkers are more like Kenny from South Park. You’d think you’ve killed them but they’ll be back in the next episode like nothing happened.

Giving up does not exist in their vocabulary. They’ll be chased from spot A and 5 minutes later they will be back, as if tear gas had not been thrown right in their faces. Maybe the tear gas companies should develop one specifically for them because they seem to have developed resistance to these ordinary ones.

I admire hawkers though. They are the most hardworking bunch of people this town has. While some people are seated on their fat asses, swivelling in their cormfy chairs, staring out of their large office windows; they are out their bravely forging a living, come what may. Nothing can deter them from their cause. I tend to think they are the right people to be giving mentorship and motivation talks in high schools; hard work and determination defines them. You have to be strong to be a hawker; there are no two ways about it.

I don’t know about you, but I thank God for hawkers. What would some of us ever do without them? How else would we be able to look fashionable on a budget? Without hawkers, you’d have to make your way to the market, all tired and haggard, and wade through muddy and stinky piles of rubbish just to buy the kilo of fresh minji and green maize you’ve been craving.

Hawkers make life so much easier for the low and middle class Nairobian. Whatever you need, a hawker will always have.

They are the Inspector Gadgets of the Nairobi streets; from fresh fruits and veggies to skirts and shirts; all under one room (street).

I celebrate the hawkers. May Nairobi City Council never wipe you out. May your strengths never waver and you wills never be broken from all the tear gas and scampering.

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Thanks to the hawkers, I can afford an apple a day to keep the doctor away. Cliché? Who cares? 🙂

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