Eastlands or ‘Eastlando’ is a vast residential community in Nairobi. Like every other hood, it has its peculiarities and idiosyncrasies. Stereotypes aside, there is no better part of the city to experience the ‘real’ Nairobi life. It’s only in ‘Eastlando’ where you’ll go to a shop and find a guy buying the weirdest combination of things: “Nipatie condom moja, maziwandogo na wembe.” The interesting part is that the guy is buying all those things on credit. It’s amazing, the kind of characters you’ll come across, especially in residential ‘plots’. Here are the most common:
1. Mama ‘Moshene’
She’s the ‘mama yao’ aka gossip queen. This lady knows everything that happens in the plot, real or imagined. She’s always talking about other people and what they do. She loves criticizing yet she’s far from perfect herself. She’s always keeping secrets of her own but meddling in other people’s affairs. When you get fat, she’ll say you are on ARVs and when you get thin she’ll say you might be infected. The sorry part is she’s shapeless herself.
2. Broke guy/jobless guy/idler
This is the kind of guy you’ll always find present in your hood. Sometimes he likes hanging out ‘kwa base’ with the boys and chewing ‘mogoka’. This is the guy that always has problems paying the rent and his house gets locked up by the landlord from time to time. The idler prefers asking for assistance instead of looking for money.
3. The annoying caretaker
Caretakers make life a living hell for the tenants. There favorite past time is harassing tenants who are doing well with petty issues. The annoying caretaker will knock on your door just after you bring in your clande. When you don’t open the door, he’ll start shouting, “Fungua! Ni caretaker! Nimekujia ile rent ulibakisha!” By the way, a good number of eastlando girls prefer action with ‘lights off’. I haven’t figured out why yet.
4. The hustler
This is the guy with the deals. He’s always selling different kinds of black market commodities. Sometimes, you’ll see him suspiciously looking people entering his house. The hustler is generally a good guy but occasionally police will raid his house looking for a stolen phone that he was brokering. They never really find anything and end up releasing the guy.
Players and whores go too far when it comes to the seduction game. Once in a while you’ll find them involved in catfights because they stole someone’s wife or husband. These are also the kind of people that piss you off. Just when you are experiencing your dry spell, they bring in a different catch every night. Damn.
6. The drunkard
At 2am, when you are going to take a piss, you’ll find the drunkard guy at his door trying to unlock the padlock. Most of the time, the possibility is always that he had been standing there for the past hour unable to locate the padlock because he’s seeing several of them. Sometimes he gets frustrated and starts banging on his door while shouting, “Fungua!” yet his house is locked from outside and there’s no one in. I love drunkards.
7. The hot chic
There’s always that chic that most men at the hood have their eyes on. She’s always sweet and humble and guys find all sorts of excuses to knock at her door. The list of suitors stretches out from the landlord to the broke guy. The sad part is always she ends up giving in to a guy who doesn’t deserve her. But that’s ‘eastlando’ for you.
8. The noisemaker
The noisemaker assumes that everyone loves riddims or kwaito. The most expensive item in his house is the woofer and he makes good use of it. Just when you are about to relax, you are kicked out your peace by ‘Gal A Bubble’ on full blast. Sometimes, early on a Saturday morning when you are clogged with hangover and yearning for some deep sleep, you are woken up by ‘fundamentals’ on maximum volume. Surely, these are the kinds of guys that make you roll up your shirt’s sleeve then go ahead to kick their ass
9. The family guy
This is the guy with lots of kids who are always running around the plot. How his big family fits in his small house always remains a wonder. Try being friends with one of the kids and they’ll tell you, “Jana usiku tuliona daddy akilala juu ya mummy. Kumbe daddy sio mzito hata!”
10. The analyzer
Lastly, there are the analyzers. These include guys like me. We see things differently. Moreover we have seen enough and so we are planning on moving to the west side of Nairobi. Hopefully we’ll return as MPs or senators. After all, politicians nowadays are allowed to take selfies, do photoshops and chips funga people. It should be easy. Most importantly, it’s said, ‘always remember where you came from.’
Written by Philip Etemesi (KU)