Nairobi Travel Guide

Society and culture

Nairobi is a cosmopolitan and multicultural city. The names of some of its suburbs, including Hurlingham and Parklands reflect Nairobi's early history.

By the mid twentieth century, many foreigners settled in Nairobi from other British-occupied regions, primarily India and parts of (present-day) Pakistan. These immigrants were workers who arrived to construct the Kampala – Mombasa railway, settling in Nairobi after its completion, and merchants from Gujarat. Nairobi also has established communities from Somalia and Sudan.

Nairobi has a diverse and multicultural composition, there are a number of churches, mosques, temples, and gurdwaras within the city. Prominent places of worship in Nairobi include the Cathedral Basilica of the Holy Family, All Saints Cathedral, Ismaili Jamat Khana, and Jamia Mosque.

Nairobi has two informal nicknames. The first is "The Green City in the Sun", which is derived from the city's foliage and warm climate. The second is the "Safari Capital of the World", which is used due to Nairobi's prominence as a hub for safari tourism.

There are a number of shopping malls in the Nairobi Area. These include: The West Gate mall, Prestige Plaza, the Village Market, the Sarit Center, the Junction. A variety of amenities are provided at these malls and include: cinemas, fashion and apparel retailers, bookshops, electronics and grocery stores, coffeehouses, restaurants and bars.

Literature and film

Kwani? is Kenya's first literary journal and was established by modern writers living in Nairobi. Nairobi's publishing houses have also produced the works of some of Kenya's best known and most respected authors, including Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, Meja Mwangi who were all part of the post-colonial writing boom.

Many film makers also practice their craft out of Nairobi. Film-making is still young in the country, but people like producer Njeri Karago and director Judy Kibinge are paving the way for others.

Perhaps the most famous book and film set in Nairobi is Out of Africa. The book was written by Karen Blixen (pen name Isak Dinesen), and it is her account of living in Kenya. Karen Blixen lived in the Nairobi Area from 1917 to 1931 (the neighbourhood in which she lived, Karen, is named after her).

In 1985, Out of Africa was made into a film, directed by Sydney Pollack. The film won 28 awards, including 7 Academy Awards. The popularity of the film prompted the opening of Nairobi's Karen Blixen Museum.

Nairobi is also the setting of many of the novels of Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, Kenya's foremost writer.

Nairobi has been the set of several other American and British films. The most recent of these was The Constant Gardener (2005), a large part of which was filmed in the city. The story revolves around a British diplomat in Nairobi whose wife is murdered in northern Kenya. Much of the filming was in the Kibera slum.

Most new Hollywood films are nowadays screened at Nairobi's cinemas. Up until the early 1990s, there were only a few film theatres and the repertoire was limited. There are also two drive-in cinemas in Nairobi.

Food

In Nairobi, there is a wide range of eating out joints to choose from. There are fast food restaurants such as KFC, which is incredibly popular, and the longer established South African chains, Galitos and Steers. Coffee houses, doubling up as restaurants, mostly frequented by the upper middle classes, such as Artcaffe, Java Coffee House and Dormans have become increasingly popular in recent days. Traditional food joints such as the popular K'osewe's in the city centre and Amaica, which specialise in African delicacies are also widepsread. The Kenchic franchise which specialises in old-school chicken and chips meals is also popular, particularly among the lower classes and students, with restaurants all over the city and its suburbs. High class restaurants specialising in specific cuisines, ranging from Italian, Lebanese, Ethiopian, French and seafood are more likely to be found in five star hotels and the wealthier suburbs in the West and South of the city.

Music

Nairobi is the centre of the Kenyan music scene. Benga is a Kenyan genre which was developed in Nairobi. The genre is a fusion of jazz and Luo music forms.

In the 1970s, Nairobi became the prominent centre for East and Central African music. During this period, Nairobi was established as a hub of soukous music. This genre was born in Kinshasa and Brazzaville. After the political climate in the region deteriorated, many Congolese artists relocated to Nairobi. Artists such as Orchestra Super Mazembe moved from Congo to Nairobi and found great success. Virgin records became aware of the popularity of the genre and signed recording contracts with several soukous artists.

More recently, Nairobi has become the centre of the Kenyan hip hop scene, with Kalamashaka, Gidi Gidi Majimaji being the pioneers of urban music in Kenyan. The genre has become very popular amongst local youth, and domestic musicians have become some of the most popular in the region. Successful artists based in Nairobi include Jua Cali, Nonini, Camp Mulla, Juliani,Eric Wainaina, Suzanna Owinyo and Nameless. Popular Record labels include Ogopa DJs, Grand Pa Records, Main Switch, Red Black and Green Republik and Calif Records.

Many foreign musicians who tour Africa perform in Nairobi. Bob Marley's first-ever visit to Africa started in Nairobi. Acts that have performed in Nairobi include Wyclef Jean, Shaggy, Akon, Sean Paul, Wayne Wonder, Alaine, Ja Rule, and Morgan Heritage, and Cabo Snoop. Other international musicians who have performed in Nairobi include the rocking show by Don Carlos and the Elephant man crew.

Nairobi, including the coastal towns of Mombasa and Diani, have recently become the centre of Electronic Dance Music (EDM) in Kenya, which includes Trance, Techno, House, Progressive, Drum & Bass, and Dubstep. Prominent international composers & DJs have graced their presence in these cities, including Kyau & Albert, Solarity, Ronski Speed, and Boom Jinx.

Many nightclubs in and around the city have witnessed a growth in the population that exclusively listen to Electronic Dance Music, especially amongst the younger generations. These youth also support many local EDM producers & DJs, such as Jahawi, Mikhail Kuzi, Jack Rooster as well as up and comers such as L.A Dave, Raj El Rey, Tom Parker and more.

Gospel music is also very popular in Nairobi just as in the rest of Kenya, with gospel artistes having a great impact in the mostly Christian city . Artistes such as Esther Wahome, Eunice Njeri, Daddy Owen, Emmy Kosgei the late Angela Chibalonza among others have a great pull over the general population while others like MOG, Juliani,Ecko dyda, DK Kwenye Beat have great influence over the younger generation. Their concerts are also very popular and they have as much influence as the great secular artistes.The most popular being Groove tours,TSO(Totally Sold Out) new year concerts.

source: Wikipedia

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