“Cities are like people, constantly showing their different personalities”.
For a lot of us who live in Nairobi, we may sometimes feel as though the city isn’t as exciting as we’d like it to be, or that we occasionally need to get out of Nairobi for some ‘fresh air’. I am writing this blog post, especially dedicated to my fellow young Nairobians, to tell you that you don’t have to feel constricted in this bustling city. Sometimes, all you need to do is just look at it from a new lens.
“What strange phenomena we find in a great city, all we need do is stroll about with our eyes open. Life swarms with innocent monsters.“ – Charles Baudelaire
Drake articulated this in one of his songs where he says (word for word, bar for bar): “I always hear people complain about the place that they live/ that all the people here are fake and they got nothin’ to give/ ’cause they been starin’ at somebody else’s version of sh*t/ that makes another city seem more excitin’ than it is…”.
That’s what sometimes it feels like to live in Nairobi, we think that other cities are more exciting than ours. Truth is, the grass isn’t necessarily greener on the other side, rather, it’s greener where it’s watered.
I spent an entire morning-afternoon in Nairobi CBD (Central Business District), and curated a short list of things to do, that you should try out, even just once. If you’re like me and you enjoy going on solo dates, then consider purposing to do some of these activities in the near future.
Happy reading, enjoy.
To be a Nairobian means that at some point, you’ve stood or sat outside the Archives building on Moi Avenue as you waited for something or someone; or, you used the building as a directional landmark before you were well acquainted with the ins and outs of the city center.
I made my way once through the humongous wooden doors into the building, and I suggest you also make your way inside the next time you have some free time in town. Archives is exactly whet its name suggests; it is an archive of Kenyan history. In there, you get to see newspapers, post stamps, artefacts, Mau Mau history, and so much more. It is a brilliantly curated array of items that tell stories that span decades upon decades.
Photography is prohibited inside, but for good reason. This is definitely a place I would visit again and again, as there’s always something new to learn.
Standing at a height of 105 m (344 ft) with 28 floors, the KICC was the tallest building in Nairobi until the early 2000s. KICC is most famously known for its rooftop/helipad, where one can see a 360 degree view of Nairobi in all her glory. The compound also houses the statue of Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya’s first president.
KICC is held dear in the hearts of many Nairobians as it has shaped the Nairobi skyline for decades. Some of us might even recall visiting KICC on school trips when we were younger, just to marvel at the unique structure of the building.
It’s worth stopping by to take a few pictures and spend some time on the rooftop.
Also, ever heard of the revolving restaurant in Nairobi in the 1970s-80s? Yup, it used to be housed on one of the top floors of the building. Ask about it when you go!
It’s well known that Nairobi became what it is today as a result of the railway line, as it sparked settlement into the city. The railway is arguably the backbone of Nairobi, even though it may not seem like it today. The Railways Museum is another hidden gem in Nairobi CBD of whose existence I was unaware of until only recently. The Museum offers a glimpse into what the railway would have looked like all those hundreds of years ago.
Commissioner of British East Africa Sir Charles Eliot once stated “It is not an unusual thing for a railway to open a country, but this line literally made a country”.
Situated on the outskirts of the CBD in a small building adjacent to Uhuru Highway, it’s easy to miss this hidden gem. Nairobi Gallery consists of an impressive arrangement of African jewelry, crafts, tools, artwork, and the eye-catching Murumbi Collection (Joseph Murumbi was the second Vice-President of Kenya). Art lovers would especially love this little gallery, as there’s a room dedicated to showcasing art work by African painters and crafts people. This is one of those places that you’d just have to see for yourself, and can’t quite be articulated in words. Highly recommend.
Central Park is what I would call an oasis. It’s a tranquil, serene, green, peaceful spot juxtaposed against the busy bustling city. I spent a weekday morning lounging on the grass by the water fountains, taking pictures at the monuments, and enjoying the view of the blue sky. The park is a well needed punctuation to all the fast paced action that takes place in County 047. Nairobi is fortunate to be home to a number of parks; after all, it is the only capital city in the world with a National Park (the literal embodiment of a concrete jungle). Apart from Central Park, you can also visit Uhuru Park and the August 7th Memorial Park, that are also located in the Nairobi CBD.
You don’t have to be outside Nairobi for you to get some fresh air. Pack a shuka, some snacks, a book, and unwind in a park near you.
There you go folks, my little list of things to do in Nairobi CBD.
I write all this to say, there’s a lot to be seen and done in Nairobi, so go see and do them.