Nairobi, the Capital of Kenya, is nicknamed Nairobbery by the locals. I have heard stories about people being robbed in CBD and within the estates but had never experienced that side of Nairobi until early 2021.
My work involves sitting for long hours, and whenever I get an opportunity, especially on the weekends, I take a walk around my estate or within the quiet roads in the City. Those walks serve as therapy. On this fateful day, I was walking along Professor Wangari Mathai road, and as I was nearing Pangani footbridge, two guys joined the sidewalk from City Park. This was ten to 7 PM.
I had a feeling that something was not right. However, because the guys were in front, I did not see them as a threat. They were talking and laughing, and this made me lower my guard. A few meters away, one of the guys bent down to tie his shoelaces while the other stood beside him, still chatting. The stop meant that I had to pass them, and now they were behind me. At this point, I had ceased viewing them as flawed characters; I wish I had remained vigilant.
Four steps forward, one of the guys comes in my front, pointing a sharp, shiny blade knife to my stomach. The other one had closed his hand across my waist, meaning that I could not turn back that easily. I had been boxed. Well, when I saw the knife, I did not require a Bible to know what was happening, so I straightforward gave them my phone; it was only three months old. The guy in front proceeded to say, “Uko na pesa ngapi,” how much money do you have? As the robber is asking, they are all over my pockets. I removed my wallet and two hundred shillings above it, showed it to the guy with the knife, and he took the money. Inside the wallet, I had one thousand, but he did not bother to check. They quickly left me, jumped inside the cemetery, and disappeared inside City Park.
As an African man brought up in the village, I always considered myself tough as far as mental issues are concerned. However, the ordeal proved me otherwise. It made me feel weak, small, and inferior. I hate that feeling. I had never thought my life would be at the mercy of another person, thieves, to make the matter worse.
I was in love with the City, but this changed that day. I do not like leaving the house unless it is work or somewhere I must go. I no longer take my walks regardless of where I am in Nairobi. I always panic whenever I see men dressed or walking like “my robbers.” If you are well-conversed with Nairobi, you understand the dress code or walking style I am talking about. Yes! It might be a stereotype, but seeing such characters should give you a reason to watch out and be alert.
I believe I did the right thing to comply and not let my masculinity get the best of me. I probably would have died or ended in hospital with severe body injuries had I tried to fight back. I have seen multiple people stabbed to death from the slightest resistance. After I calmed down and shared the experience with a friend, she informed me to report the matter to the police and take my IMEI number. I did so after three days. Several months later, I got the phone back, but the experience had changed me; I am primarily paranoid and do not trust anyone.