Parents Scramble at Nairobi CBD Shop With Form One Offers

  • Parents crowded at uniforms shop in Nairobi.
    Parents crowded at uniforms shop in Nairobi.
  • Back to school is always a frenzy that catches many parents off guard. From getting lost in the city, to others ending up being extorted by unscrupulous vendors and sales agents. 

    Fares hike and the desire to make extra cash bring the worst out of many Nairobians. 

    As I walked around CBD running errands, I pitied the parents who a majority were struggling with their student's boxes, late purchase of uniforms and paying fees. 

    “It’s a struggle my friend. Long queues here in the CBD. Kwanza karibu mtu wa cart atoroke na box ya Sandra. (The cart pusher almost ran away with Sandra’s box).” I overheard a parent lamenting on the phone.

    He appeared exhausted by the hustle in the city. 

    By that time there was this gentle wind and some showers of rain not strong yet not unpleasant. 

    With the cold weather, I bet many of us could sit still and feel it robbing the last whispers of heat from our very bones, or feel the blood begging for heat flowing in our veins. 

    Hii baridi ni kama imetumwa. (This cold has an agenda). 

    I remember reading a manuscript where an author lamented that the weather in the context was cold enough to make his atoms shiver and he has to do all it takes to keep warm, keep the air and soul thermostats in a good range.

    Boda Boda riders in Nairobi CBD in 2020.
    Boda Boda riders in Nairobi CBD in 2020.

    It was his chance to don the warmest winter coats and woollens. But not many agreed. I saw a lady wearing a white dress with thin linen. Walking in stilettos and swinging a brown handbag on her wrist. 

    As most of us blew warm air into our palms, rubbed our hands and breathed the Carbon dioxide out of our lungs, and others drank some warm coffee and clutching on the ends of their blazers, she walked like she was enjoying the heat of a nonexistent sun. 

    Ogopa masiste wa Nairobi (Fear the ladies in Nairobi).” a tout trolled and whistled as nearly everyone around burst into laughter. 

    I switched my focus on a parent not having a field day, visibly expressing her lamentations. 

    “Where did you place your pay slip? Nilikuambia mambo ya kua confused uache uskie. Na ushakua msichana mkubwa unaenda Form One. (I told you to stop acting confused especially now that you have matured and proceeding to Form One).” she vented at the daughter. 

    Some had queued at the banks, for late payment of fees discussing how principals declined to lower fees or other necessities despite the intervention of the Ministry of Education. 

    Wamepandisha fare, school fees iko juu, mtoto anataka pocket money (They have hiked the fares, raised school fees and we have not even factored in pocket money,” another lamented outside the bus terminus. 

    I navigated my bike around the traffic and sped towards Kirinyaga Road. My attention was drawn towards a shop where parents were scrambling. 

    I always use this route to avoid traffic in the CBD, especially during the morning hours. 

    Out of curiosity, I stopped to witness the bustle and wondered if I would go through a similar ordeal when my Grade 6 student nears joining junior secondary under the new CBC curriculum. 

    Hawa wanangania nini hapo (What are they scrambling for?” I asked one of them. Many Nairobians call wasee wa nduthi (bike riders) the udaku society (rumour mongers). 

    “This shop has offers on uniforms and books. Most of us have decided to rush here first before even paying fees as the banks are full to the brim,” the parent stated.

    He further lamented that the recent 5 day holiday affected the program of many parents. 

    “The holiday, from the ceremony of the late President to the 2 days Labour day celebration to Eid al-Fitr delayed our salaries. Banks were even inaccessible,” he added. 

    I remembered my cousin had also mentioned something about waiting for the holiday to end to pay his girl’s school fee. 

    Na siungebank online. Vitu ni digital skuizi mama (You should have banked online. Many banks offer digital services,” a photographer, I think he was a journalist because he had this workstation tag stated.

    He took a few photos and then looked at the parents.  “Where do you bank?”

    A boda boda rider vrooms past a building with Cooperative Bank signage
    A boda boda rider vrooms passes past Cooperative Bank.

    Co-op Bank,” the stranded parent responded. 

    “Co-op Bank kwanza ni rahisi (Co-op Bank is easier). Pay school fees conveniently through MCo-opCash, M-Pesa PayBill 400222, PesaLink or at a Co-op Kwa Jirani agent near you.

    “When you need a loan to pay the fees, you can apply for an MCo-opCash Salary Advance of up to Ksh500,000 with a repayment period of up to 3 months. Use your Co-op VisaCard to pay for your back to school shopping at No Extra Cost, and enjoy discounts at selected outlets.

    The parent then looked at me.

    “Unabeba (Are you free to ferry me around?” he asked. I nodded.

    “Rush me to the nearest Co-op Kwa Jirani Agent,” he urged. 

    I sped with my pillion passenger into the cold Nairobi weather. We passed the lady in the white dress with a thin linen, walking in stilettos. 

    She was now drinking coffee and purchasing a hoodie at a hawker. 

    These cold Nairobi days can chew and chill your bones, as your body seeks the merest spark of heat to survive. 

    A Co-op Kwa Jirani agent at an estate in Kenya
    A Co-op Kwa Jirani agent