Post main image
Photo by


Walk Fast And Confidently: How To Survive In Nairobi

You cannot afford to let your guard down

BY Pauline Katethya

Mar 20, 2023, 11:13 AM

Photo by

Nairobi, the city under the sun can be a chaotic place to visit. It is different things for different people at different times. In the morning, people swarm into town as they make their way to work. In the evenings, it’s exceedingly crowded, the streets busy with hawkers selling their goods on the roadside that there’s barely space for people to walk on.

What’s constant though, are the thieves waiting for you to let your guard down and steal from you or the street kids carrying poop in their bags waiting to smear it on your face if you refuse to give them something small.

Sometimes, small kids calling you aunty will beg you to buy candy from them or leave them some money.  And as if that’s not enough, there will be a couple walking in front of you, occupying all the space and with no possible hurry to get home. 

The CBD is unpredictable. No one is safe and you never know when terror is going to unleash because, no matter how street-wise you are, Nairobi will teach you that you know nothing. From avoiding eye contact with a hawker to looking homeless while shopping downtown, here are tips that’ll help you survive in the city. 

Confidence Is Key. 

Walk fast and confidently, like you know where you are going. If you appear to seem lost someone will smell your naivety from afar and take advantage of that. Even if you don’t know where you are going, even if you are lost keep walking, hoping that somehow you’ll find your way. 

It’s important not to ask for directions from anyone unless it's a traffic officer or a security guard. You can never trust a civilian like you. They might end up leading you to a dark alley and robbing you. 

If you can, try and be unpredictable. Make it seem as if you crossing the road and then take a turn or walk in the opposite direction. You have to confuse your enemies in case someone is following you.

Mind Your Business. 

Do not talk to anyone no matter how gentle, kind or elderly they may look. If they tap or poke you to ask for directions, high chances are they are looking forward to stealing from you. Even if you meet someone who looks like your deskmate back in primary or high school, ignore them. 

Any form of physical contact is discouraged because that’s how people will drug, lure you, and steal from you. You wouldn’t want to end up in Kiambu naked with a packet of condoms lying next to you. 

If you see an envelope or money lying on the ground, remember, that is not God talking to you, just assume you haven’t seen anything. And because many people get mugged in the CBD, if you see a gun pointed at someone’s head, you don’t go to their rescue, keep walking.

Don’t Use Your Phone In Public.

No one knows the day or the hour when a thief will snatch your phone or open your zipper’s bag and steal it. To be safe, keep your phone in a smaller pocket inside the big pocket in your bag. 

You have to resist every urge to check your Instagram notifications. No matter how many times someone calls you can’t pick up, even if it’s your mother. And you can’t return the call either when you are in a matatu because someone can smash the window and run away with it. Hell, the person seated next to you can also steal it.

If You See A Promotion Van, Run For Your Life. 

Sometimes, especially around a place like Archives, there’ll be groups of people; with a van purporting to sell appliances and whatnot. You’ll buy a t-shirt and they’ll later tell you you’ve won a phone, money, or a fridge, but in order for them to send you money or the items, they need your bank or Mpesa details.

Some people know this is a scam but others fueled by greed will want to know what’s in it for them. And that’s when the conmen transfer the little money they had in their Mpesa or bank account. Stay woke.