I just got back to Kenya after a month at home in the glorious British summer time. Seeing my family and my friends and my pets and almost everyone I spent time with that had the ability of speech, voiced their concerns about the security situation in Kenya and whether safe it is to be here.
Of course this is all my own opinion and is by no means a validation of security or insecurity. It’s just a subjective insight in to what it’s like to live in what may be depicted in the international media as a dangerous city. I can only generalise based on those I know and what I have observed.
Nairobi is a vibrant place where flash mobs break in to dance in unexpected places, and trucks blaring Chris Brown full of people singing and dancing crawl along the streets, and ladies try to sell you second hand Zara skirts amidst festivals, art exhibitions, music concerts, yoga centres, graffiti workshops and tango dancing. This is the norm and it all continues as planned and people always seem to be having a great time. Perhaps security is something that is on everyone’s mind, but it is by no means the only thing on people’s minds. My mind is full of all the usual issues and although security is part of the pie chart, it’s not usually the biggest slice.
Over the last three years that I’ve lived here, the threat of terror in Kenya, and especially Nairobi, has increased and in response, life has changed. However, in my opinion, not to the extent that foreigners, or people with homes outside of Kenya’s borders, are choosing to leave. Of course if a terrorist attack shakes your city people may feel a sense of post-traumatic stress that manifests as a certain paranoia, a thinking twice about approaching certain situations. We have seen this in the West too. This does not however, mean a descent in to chaos, a total lock down or a fear of leaving the house.
The Kenyan government have responded to attacks with an increase in security in shopping malls, at the airport, and just about everywhere. Life continues without a huge deviation from the norm, changes to routines are slight and tend to be manifested mostly in subconscious decisions to decide to avoid large crowded gatherings and low security areas, or not to watch that particular football match in that particular bar tonight. Yet even in these situations, people seem to be calm and composed, not obviously uncomfortable and preoccupied with worry that they may be a target.
To close I should mention that although the British Government travel warnings have to be precautionary and sometimes can evoke fear, they do also say that most visits by British nationals have been trouble free. Most relevant for Dig Deep’s Kilimanjaro Climbers travelling from Nairobi over land to Tanzania, they also note that the “FCO’s advice against all but essential travel to low income areas of Nairobi does not include or affect transit through Nairobi airport.”
Whilst it’s true that people should only travel to places they feel comfortable going to, I personally wouldn’t think twice about flying in to Nairobi and travelling by road to the Tanzanian border. Last time I took that journey I saw some of Kenya’s most stunning landscapes, people, small towns and brilliant horizons. There was even a giraffe in the road at one point.