Nairobi is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world. It is vibrant, scintillating, and extremely pleasant, environmentally and socially. It has a large pool of ethnic restaurants, a robust night life, and a friendly atmosphere not found in many metropolitan capitals.
It is also the most sought-after station for diplomats and international workers. The presence of the UN Environmental Program (UNEP) and many foreign embassies, global blue-chip companies and media organizations, gives Nairobi an international ambiance that is hard to replicate.
In 2014 and 2015 it was voted the most “intelligent” city by one international organization; and according to the City Momentum Index – which tracks economies and commercial real estate markets – it was among 20 most successful cities in the world in innovation, capacity and invention.
But Nairobi has unusual challenges too. The “Green city in the sun” tag which attracted colonialists and inspired block-busters like “Out of Africa” has all but faded. There is more concrete now than trees and shrubs; the vehicular and pedestrian traffic is overwhelming; there is more neglect due to poor management and corruption; and slums in the fringes of the city are getting bigger by the day. Corruption by City officials is chronic.
Though it has grown out of the notorious reputation of “nairobbery” earned in the 1990s due to escalation of brazen crimes, the city can be intimidating for first-time visitors given the crowded downtown areas and poorly lit streets at night in some areas.
That is why Nairobi requires an administrator who is corruption-free and who has the energy, brilliance, and an innovative mind to steer the city to better times.
This coming August, Nairobians will have a chance to elect a new Governor after five years of dismal performance by the highly-rated Evans Kidero. This outgoing election circle has been a disaster for city residents who expected much more in terms of results from the hitherto well-respected professional manager. Instead of progress, they got a lackluster performance interspersed with misuse of office and graft.
This year, city dwellers will have an opportunity to choose among eight candidates who have declared interest in the seat.
Unfortunately, more than half of those candidates are unfit to occupy the high office at the City Hall. They are either educationally unqualified, morally deficient or notoriously corrupt, with at least one of them suspected to be a big-time drug dealer.
In my opinion, only two candidates fit the bill and both of them bear the name Kenneth. One is the former Speaker of the National Assembly, Kenneth Marende, a lawyer, who commands the respect of Kenyans for the manner he spearheaded debates in Parliament. He is clean, stridently commanding, and genuinely patriotic.
The other, Peter Kenneth, is a professional banker and former Member of Parliament who – like Yours Truly – won accolades for being the best manager of the Constituency Development Fund. When he was chairman of the Kenya Football Federation, this Kenneth was known to be strict but fair and his management skills were unparalleled.
Unfortunately, the contest for the Nairobi governorship has been narrowed down to a game of political preferences. Nairobi is too important (Gross National Income per capita 1,160USD) and too big (4.3 million daylight population) to be left to a buffoon just because he or she belongs to a particular party.
In the case of Nairobi, politics should be swept aside and merit should prevail. Anything less is deprecating.
Joe Khamisi is a former journalist, diplomat and Member of Parliament. He is also the Author of ‘Politics of Betrayal:Diary of a Kenyan Legislator‘, a political memoir about the situation in Kenya between 2001, when the ruling party of President Daniel Arap Moi, the Kenya African National Union (KANU), merged with Raila Odinga’s National Development Party.
The book also narrates cases of corruption in Parliament and in the Media and records Senator Obama’s visit to Kenya in 2006. As a friend of Barack Obama Senior, the author also remembers the times and tragedies of the American-educated economist.
Joe Khamisi’s second book, a biography, ‘Dash Before Dusk’ is also now on sale.
Joe’s latest book is ‘The Wretched Africans: A Study of Rabai and Freretown Slave Settlements‘ which has recently been published and is now available to purchase.