“Traffic jam”. This is the keyword when being late for an appointment in the centre of Nairobi: it’s enough to avoid disappointment.
In Kenyan capital, life is scheduled by traffic and driving for hours just to make a single kilometre is getting more and more usual.
Symbol of urban metamorphosis, vehicles’ flow forces people to reorganize their meetings and appointments: lots of professionals, hanging around the centre of the city, have learnt some useful expedients, such as going out their houses at 5 am to get to the office at 6 am, avoiding being stuck in their cars for three hours – a situation which is likely to occur if they depart just an hour later. Only on Saturday and Sunday the roads, empty with workers, show distances as they really are: short.
Just two trips, from the suburbs to the centre of the town, are enough to notice an established mechanism: car is the space for Africans to do any kind of things, while they optimise the time spent inside it. A matatu crowded with people, cars carrying vegetables and a crowd of tireless people walking to work. From your car window you can see lives on the move: career women working on their laptops while being stuck in the traffic jam, two colleagues having their first meal, someone buying something for the week at the street vendors – fresh fruit, vegetables, newspapers, handkerchiefs, peanuts…
The engine is off, you don’t lack time to choose.