The insider’s cultural guide to Nairobi by Josephine Opar

Arts and culture journalist and magazine hoarder Josephine Opar is putting Kenya on the map with her recent article on the Guardian. She is giving tips on the insider’s cultural guide to Nairobi: Tusker beer, urban slang and ‘writivism’.

She gives an insight on the best places to visit while in Kenya, Nairobi’s love for Nyama Choma and Tusker, the current trending songs to listen to, the TV programme to look out for, street art etc…

Check out the article below;

From Lupita Nyong’o street art to occupied playgrounds and poking fun at socialites, let Josephine Opar guide you round Kenya’s capital. Nairobi culture in five words is Sheng, sun, writing , matatus, genge.

Sound of the city
Beeps from security wands and metal detector machines are the norm in Nairobi, because of the compulsory security checks at every major building, mall, event locations and some buses in the city. In short, security checks are everywhere. Individuals are required to put their bags and phones in trays while they walk through the metal detector machine and in some places security guards also frisk people.

Everyone’s tuning into
The Trend, NTV’s hit show, chats with popular and polarising personalities that people in Kenya are talking about on Twitter: from pop stars to skin-bleaching socialites.

The look on the street
Nairobians are all about mixing local and international trends. Local accessories are popular, while clothes are often sourced from markets (mtumba), or from vendors who select pieces from overseas. Designers and tailors are increasingly becoming a popular choice for producing original attire.

Best current venue
Kuona markets many Nairobi-based artists. Recently, director Sylvia Gichia spoke out about the Venice Biennale scandal, which sees Chinese and Italian artists representing Kenya instead of local artists, for the second time.

What’s the big talking point?
Digital migration – three leading private TV stations operating on analogue platforms were switched off for three weeks in February for failing to migrate to digital. The conflict caused Kenyans on social media to swap memes making fun of the situation. Now that all the stations are back on air, Kenyans are required to purchase set-top boxes to watch local channels, unless they already have satellite TV.

Who’s top of the playlist?
Kuona Trust is a vibrant and accessible arts space in the Hurlingham district of the city. It’s a great place for discovering local painters, glass artists, visual artists, sculptors and photographers, who showcase their work there at regular exhibitions and installations, events, workshops and community outreach programmes.

Best street art
Bankslave is a socially conscious graffiti artist. His work ranges from a massive portrait of Lupita Nyong’o to screaming faces with active pipelines coming from the mouths. He calls these “screaming souls”.

He recently honoured the world’s oldest primary pupil Kimani Ng’ang’a Maruge on a wall in Kariobangi. The famous Kenyan started his primary education at 84 years of age, and is the subject of the film The First Grader.

What Nairobi does better than anyone else …
Tusker beer is made in Nairobi, and is popular with Kenyans and tourists alike. Locals often drink it with nyama choma (barbecued meat). Now that police are on the look-out for drunk drivers, Kenyans are doing their best to enjoy their alcoholic beverages responsibly and avoid failing the “alco-blow” tests.

Best cultural Instagram
Artist and content creator Lyra Aoko’s Instagram account is a good representation of the arts scene in Nairobi.

Cultural moment from history
Nairobi National Museum had its 100-year anniversary in 2010. It was a great moment for the city because the renovated museum holds impressive and culturally important artefacts. World-renowned paleontologist and Time Magazine cover star Dr Richard Leakey spoke at the grand celebration, which also featured an art exhibition. Some of the world’s most prized artefacts are housed at Museum Hill, including a homo erectus boy.

Five to Follow
Baz Matters
UP Nairobi
2Many Siblings
Electrique DJs & The Beat Parade Band