Like most societies, our behaviour is more or less shaped by our residential address. The same goes for the microcosm society that is the University of Nairobi students’ hostels especially in Main campus. Allocation of accommodation at UoN is based on year or field of study, though it’s not strictly followed. Surprisingly, students pick new habits and lifestyles when they move to another hall, irrespective of year of study. George Tubei breaks down the peculiar characteristics of the halls of residence.
Hall nine or Mboya hall which houses mostly B.A 2nd years is the most untidy (rumours are rife that it has bedbugs) and the occupants the most unruly in campus. Hall nine is the campus market where you can get literally anything; from suspiciously cheap Johnnie Walker to traditional brews like Muratina. For chics with a soft sport for bad boys, there are plenty to choose from. Otherwise, how can one explain the high traffic of chics coming to the hall, who outnumber guys at the hostel in some weekends? Bashes are the order of the day and usually hosted by guys aspiring to contest SONU seats. After all, you must water down comrades first to get their blessing and protection come campaigning season
The ‘wooden estate’ is situated along Mamlaka road and is home to most first years in campus. No particular trend exists here seeing every guy is trying to come to terms with the fact that they are at the bottom of the social ladder at campus. The few that are enjoying true freedom go overboard to fit in, but most resolve to stick to their parents’ advice. “Campus is not safe”, they were told, as they joined Uni. So most become full time members of the campus Christian Union, if only for a short while. But the poor drainage system and the 24-hour stench of urine makes it hard for guys to welcome chics to their rooms. Andrew, a 3rd year electric engineer, recounts his time at prefabs;
“Prefabs was like a mixture of hell and heaven because in my room of four guys we had one dedicated born-again brother and a drunk….come Friday at exactly 10:00pm, the two would have two services running concurrently with each dishing advice to another but the poor drainage forced me to miss a shower sometimes.”
Hall eleven home hosts 3rd year BA male students and some Engineering students. It is the uptown version of hall nine – much cleaner and a bit orderly, but enjoys a symbiotic relationship with Hall niners. If your ‘stock’ runs out in hall 9, you are politely directed to hall 11 especially to a particular room where you can be sure to get it for a slightly higher price. The smaller rooms of Hall 11 give guys the much needed privacy. This gives the residents some level of confidence to host chics in their rooms without the interference of pesky room-mates. Naturally, the ratio of guys to chics especially over weekends, is almost the equal.
But the same cannot be said of the ‘morgue’ that is Hall ten which is home to Bsc. and medical students from Chiromo (campus). The hostel – partially hidden by trees – is usually quite. The few times the residents have thrown a bash, the location has been the Chiromo Sports bar
“I think the cool, quiet and serene at Chiromo has an effect on these guys long after they leave class,” says Sam, a 3rd year Bsc who at one time lived in hall ten.
The boys in white, as nursing students are commonly known, are housed in hall one, just adjacent to kitchen one. But the random unpredictable exams every other two weeks, has reduced guys here to almost a docile state. Add the fact that they are in school almost throughout the year, having four quarters instead of normal two semesters, it is understandable parties are almost unheard of in this side of the campus
“I once attended a bash in hall 1 but by 11:30pm, the party was over because guys didn’t want to miss the 6:30am bus to KNH,” says David, a BA student.
The same can be said of their counter parts in hall 12 which also houses chic’s pursuing nursing.