It’s in the way they walk

People have been walking to some extent in every city I have visited.  I always enjoy seeing people on the streets and it is nice to see them move along one foot in front of the other, in their own little rhythm.  But until now I have never thought too much about how they walk and the beat, the bounce and the attitude that a walk can give to the street.  From my taxi on the way to Nairobi I became captivated by the way the Kenyans were walking.  They were making otherwise dull streets have movement and colour that almost made you want to dance yourself.  It felt like a small step between the movement I was watching to a street party where everyone was getting into the groove.


Once I got out on the street myself I couldn’t help but hope that this walk was contagious and I was somehow walking with flare.  Well, I definitely felt more fun and alive while I was walking.  I tried to have a bit of attitude but then I just felt like I was kidding myself and I break out in an internal giggle that definitely portrays no style at all.  While I don’t have much gangster or catwalk style about me, I thought my relatively large bum might make up for it, but I just feel ridiculous when I try.  I am hoping that I am acquiring the walk gradually without thinking about it (like one might acquire and accent) and when I come back I will have a walk that will make people.


Yesterday I took a local up on an offer to go for a walk around a slum.  This involved walking in all sorts of conditions, without footpaths, through dusty roads and paths, along a railway track which dictates the length of your stride and then across puddles that I tried to avoid contemplating the contents of.  We walked constantly and I tried not to be tired but I felt like collapsing at the end of it. I just didn’t have the stamina of the kenyans (and we are at altitude).  On my way I was stuck in a matatu in a traffic jam.  A small voice in my head was saying that getting out and walking would be faster but then a much more dominant voice told me to sit where I was and enjoying slipping in and out of sleep as the bus lurched two metres forward and then sat idle for a few minutes.


2 thoughts on “It’s in the way they walk

  1. I am totally curious about the transport in this place Jacqui!
    Are people as courteous to each other on foot as they are in traffic?
    Do they talk to each other on the street in Nairobi?
    How far do they walk to get their daily activities done? Where do they walk from and where are they going?
    Are they all fit? Or are some totally sick (from other illnesses) and still walking, because that’s the way life is over there and there’s no choice? Or is there a choice!? Why are they walking!?
    Do they like walking? Hate it? Not think about it?
    Are cars/ bikes any less common over in Nairobi than Pune etc? Are the streets less crowded and if so, why?
    What are they carrying? Is it on their head! In their hands? On their back?
    Are they walking alone? With children? Are they old or young generally?
    Is public transport any cheaper/ dearer/ worse quality than in other cities you’ve visited?
    So many questions!
    Oh and mum says don’t eat the salad or coleslaw in Nairobi. Just a warning…
    And she’s wanting to know if you’ve seen the big birds up in the trees? If you’ve seen them, you’ll know! Tell us about them!
    Ciao ciao!

  2. Hi, Wow, so many questions.

    OK, let’s start at the bottom … Pt prices have been quite cheap in all the cities I’ve been to actually – usually around 25 cents. Here it’s a little bit more about 40 – 60 cents I guess. The cheapest was probably india. I should do some currency conversions to double check. As for quality – it is different. In Nairobi everyone seems to be seated unlike busy buses in other cities where it is a scramble to find a place to stand. India was probably the most full on for the buses but this might have just been my luck and time of day. In every city, people have spoken of extremely crowded buses. You will have to listen to some of the interviews I have.

    I think motorbikes and bicycles are less common in nairobi than Pune or Hanoi and about the same as in Qingdao.

    As for walking, I think some probably walk to avoid paying for a matatu but others are walking to or from public transport or don’t have too far to walk or know that they will probably fast than being stuck in a traffic jam. I haven’t seen too many people that look overly sick, most people look fit enough and neither too happy or sad. They seem to walk with purpose and attitude but I think that’s just their look. When they are walking with friends they are often chatting away and I have seen people run into people they know as they walk along and stop for a chat.

    I don’t think people are overly courteous to each other when they walk, but I think they are more courteous than they are on the road. I guess most people I have seen are workers but there are some children (although there is a strike at school so less kids are walking to school at the moment), but not so many older people I guess. I’m going to do some interviews tomorrow so I’ll keep your questions in mind. Thanks for taking an interest – I feel like we are going to have a lot of catching up to do when I get home 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s