The Fast Pace of Nairobi: Kenya and GlobeSmart

Posted on September 3, 2013

The Fast Pace of Nairobi: Kenya and GlobeSmart

Ross van Horn

As you may have noticed, we’ve added quite a few countries to GlobeSmart this year… and more are coming! We took a few minutes to speak recently with Ross van Horn, who coordinated with and interviewed subjects in and about Kenya in order to add the country to GlobeSmart.

Ross lives in Kenya currently, having moved there six years ago because “Africa is the continent where things are happening and [Kenya’s capital] Nairobi is at the center of that.”

“Nairobi is a cosmopolitan city,” Ross said, “fast-paced… people here maintain a brisk pace and may seem brusque compared to people in the rest of the country. It’s almost a 24-hour city. It reminds me a bit of Bangkok, Thailand, actually, where the city has a markedly different character than the rest of the country. Once you get out of the city to someplace like Kisumu, or even Kenya’s second largest city, Mombasa, by the coast, the pace of life slows down. The Swahili culture, which is a mix of Kenyan and Arab cultures (among other things) is more polychronic and slower-paced.”

Ross had access to a wide variety of contacts to interview while doing research for GlobeSmart. Not only did he speak with people from Kenya, he also talked to Africans from other countries and individuals from three other continents with experience in Kenya. Interviewees came from both public and private backgrounds, including people working in government, telecoms, the United Nations, the automobile industry, entrepreneurs, high-tech and many others.

When asked about the interview experience, Ross said, “This project reaffirmed for me how complex this country is and how much great potential there is in the future narrative of this country.”

To start getting a handle on this complex nation, look up Kenya the next time you’re in GlobeSmart!


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