Everything is Normal in Nairobi

Life has assumed itself a sense of normalcy here in Nairobi for most people.  A normalcy which was questioned by everyone when the security at work had heightened over the weekend and the latest security warnings had been sent out by the UN and western embassies.

The warnings explicitly state to avoid UN Avenue, the UN, western embassies (particularly the US embassy which is across from the UN) and Village Market (the nearest mall to the UN).  All of these are the key landmarks of Gigiri; the neighbourhood within which my life here exists.

I am not scared or nervous but think this is an interesting time to be here.  Will people operate with the same caution they did when the Al-Shabaab threats first came in autumn?  Or will people assume that the threats have resulted in nothing to Nairobi so far, and that nothing further will?  My observations: while security has gone up, individual awareness and security has not.  I would argue that this and street smarts – operating with extra caution – are definitely the characteristics to presently be acting upon.

However, that being said, some people are not surprised by anything.  I was told today by both security and investigation officers that “everything is normal in Nairobi”.  This means that the odd, unusual and somewhat creepy text messages and phone calls I’ve been receiving are normal.  That being accused of being the girlfriend to a man who already has a girlfriend, whom the man wants to marry, but who turns out to already be a husband to a wife who is in the hospital and just gave birth is normal.  That people find out Westerners’ numbers and try to entrap them in situations later used for blackmail is normal.  That winning the lottery and being dragged into a real Kenyan soap opera is normal.  It was just like one of their popular radio shows where they try to bust people who are cheating on their significant others.  Crazily these stories are common.  Yet, I still do not get it.  How did they get my number and who are they?

Acting on advice, tomorrow I will be purchasing a new sim card – definitely time for a new phone number!  Oddly enough, from what I’ve heard, I have been fortunate to make it 5 months with only an accommodation incidence.  If that’s true, here is to hoping my good luck continues!


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