Kenya’s capital, and one of the world’s fastest growing cities, Nairobi is East Africa’s leading business centre. It is a place of great wealth, and a magnet, therefore, to great tides of rural Kenyans. Skyscraper lined avenues, markets and green squares constitute its hub, and in the suburbs large, sprawling townships house its enormous migratory population of workers. Matatus – the city’s lifeblood – line the streets, vendors patrol its pavements, and, especially in the old town, family businesses continue to sell a bewildering range of goods.
Founded in 1899, and acquiring capital status in 1905, Nairobi continues to possess something of a frontier feel. For those new to the city, it is both fascinating and, in places, a tad bewildering; and for those wishing to invest, the rules and regulations, wrapped in layers red tape, can pose problems. As a result it has become, for the average holidayer, simply a stop between home and Mombasa / wild Kenya.
This is a shame, for Nairobi is a wonderful place. Full of beauty, its weave of cultures, its many languages, the sheer vibrancy of the place, make it one of the most exciting cities in Africa. Restaurants abound, there is a first rate museum, Nairobi Game Park nudges up against its outer limits, clubs throb, bars blare, animal orphanages are well maintained, and everywhere there is trading – in the street, on shop stoops, in the large glass-fronted buildings in Nairobi’s financial sector.
A wonderful mix of the old and the new, it is home to the Kikuyu, the Masaai, the Luo – to representatives, in fact, from all of Kenya’s forty-two tribes; to third and fourth generation European settler families; to Somalis, Tanzanians, to Ugandans, Ethiopians and South Africans. The food is varied, excellent and would satisfy the most discerning of palates.