Moving Out of Nairobi Turns Into Success

  • An aerial photo of Nairobi
    An aerial photo of Nairobi
    Eddy Mwanza
  • Just over a year ago, I plucked my 12-year-old like a weed and took all our belongings (no, that isn't true, I didn't bring, the microwave, the 43 inch smart TV, the 5-seater sofa, or the refrigerator, which all belonged on our 'most prized possessions' list) and we drove 47.5Km to the outskirts of Kitengela.

    We stopped in front of a dusty 3 storey apartment whose paintwork had seen better days. A handcart with yellow 20-litre jerry cans tightly packed in neat rows was parked across the driveway.

    "No water?" Lisa (my daughter) said. "This is where we are going to live"?

    I could feel tears welling up in the corner of my eyes. Burning to just flow out and wash away the events of the last few days.

    Auctioneers mallet.
    Auctioneers mallet.
    File

    But no. A 12-year-old girl watching her dad cry was out of the question. I needed to be brave for the both of us. 

    "Hey, cheer up. Remember what I told you about life and lemons and lemonades," was all I could conjure up in response, I laced it with a smile.

    "We still need water for the lemonade dad," she said, before rolling on the front seat in hysterics.

    "Gotcha. hahaha...you should see your face," she added in between bursts of laughter. 
    "It's going to be okay dad...you need to take a chill".

    The tears I mentioned earlier were now seriously threatening to burst out like an over-flooded dam. How did she grow up so fast?

    We had had 2020 to remember which is why some of our prized possessions needed to find new homes.

    It wasn't easy, far from it. But it had to be done. The 2-bedroomed apartment in Ruaka also turned out to be an expense that needed trimming.

    That was then.

    I spent the next 12 months toiling away in the unforgiving concrete jungle dubbed Nairobi as a cab driver. 

    It hasn't been an easy ride, but looking back, I'm glad we made the move.

    There are days when I find myself on my last thousand bob note, but then I find comfort in knowing that all my earnings have been structured to cater for Lisa's future.

    The grand sale that took place in 2020, helped me set up her fees kitty at Co-op bank, where I also bought into their cashless pocket money product.

    I remember the look on her face the day I handed her that Co-opPay Prepaid Card thing'y. Her almond shaped brown eyes lit up.

    "I love you dad," a warm and fuzzy feeling ran through every fibre of my being.

    I didn't know it at the time, but this was going to bail me out in a huge way one day.

    That day just happened to be August 26, 2021.

    Mid-terms were here and I was down to my last Ksh500, with no idea how Lisa would come home.

    My sky-blue Toyota fielder was a rainy day away from total brake failure, replacing them cost an arm and a leg.

    So there I was, scrolling through my phonebook in search of a corporate bailout.

    I did get a few odd trip requests here and there, but they were mostly those Ksh180 bob trips we cab drivers detest.

    “Vipi Peter, naeza pata 1500 refundable jioni”?
    “Acha nione,” was what Peter and everyone else I reached out to said.

    That’s Kenyan for ‘you need a Plan B’.

    At around 9:30 a.m. I got a call from an unknown number.

    “Hi dad. Unafika home saa ngapi”?
    “Lisa? Where are you na hii ni simu ya nani”
    “I just got home, uko”?

    She spent the next 24 hours explaining to my 4-year-old brain how she used the Co-opPay Prepaid Card thing'y to get home.

    I don’t know what a miracle looks like to you, but this was one for me. It’s how I found myself reminiscing on the year that was.