Published weekly by the Media Council of Kenya

To the Editor
Pen Cop
Off The Beat
Media Review
Media Monitoring
Literary Vignettes
Letter to the Editor
Guest Column
Fact Checking
Fact Check
Editor's Pick
EAC Media Review
Council Brief
Book Review
Edit Template

Dear Nation, we have never been to Nairobi but aren’t primitive


Let’s tell you about the colonial journalist. To him or her, Kenya is the capital city of Nairobi and all Kenyans are primitive fellows who live up trees munching bananas.

The modern journalist thinks Kacheliba is not in Kenya; and that the only way the people of Kacheliba can be redeemed from their primitiveness is to bring them to Nairobi, Kenya’s epicentre of ‘modernisation.’

A story is told of a colonial journalist who ‘parachuted’ to Nairobi, and was astonished to find a bustling capital city, so much so that the fellow’s first question to the taxi driver who picked him from the airport was: Excuse me, when did you come down?

The cab driver had no idea what the mzungu was talking about. It took years of scholarly research to discover what the mzungu meant by ‘when did you come down?’

See, the fellow had been made to believe that Africans live up trees, and when he found one driving him to his hotel, he wanted to know exactly what time did the taxi driver come down the tree, take a shower, change, and get behind the wheels of a taxi?

It was a big news story. That’s story one.

Story two. A tour group organised to fly a group of African farmers to the United Kingdom. The old fellows were taken around London, around the Royal Palace. They toured the deepest parts of Scotland and were hosted by their peers in the countryside of UK.

Back home, the media waited for the tourists to tell the story of their first major trip beyond the village gates.

“Excuse me, what is your most memorable part of the trip to THE Great Britain?” asked one reporter for The African Progressives.

Upon which the old guy frowned, rubbed his beard and said: “Yes, the most memorable thing is that the children over there are so clever that all of them speak English!” Such clever kids!

And, yes, it is a scandal that we have children in this world who cannot speak a word in English.

It is a scandal that we have children in Kenya who cannot use a knife and a folk.

But it is also a scandal that the good fellows at Nation Centre thought it a big story that some people in Kenya have never been to Nairobi and ended up parading the poor fellows as being so primitive.

It is a scandal to storm a quiet village and pontificate that Nairobi, with its congestion, mad traffic, burst sewers and uncollected garbage, and gangsters on nduthis and flooded streets, is the ultimate mark of progress.

So, to the fellows who cooked that ‘They have never been to Nairobi all their lives’ story, that was the most colonial gibberish we ever read, 61 years after independence.

The only way to redeem yourselves is another story titled: ‘They have never been beyond Nairobi all their lives.’ Or: ‘Mediascape crew has never been to Kacheliba all their lives!’

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share this post

Sign up for the Media Observer

Weekly Newsletter

By signing up, you agree to our Privacy Policy

Scroll to Top