Africa: the upper middle class experience

It’s not all 18-hour bus rides.

The picture of Africa’s growing middle class is sometimes lost among the breathless dispatches from more rustic corners of the continent. I thought it’s worth posting this photo I just took in the Java House in Sarit Center, Nairobi, an upscale mall in the Westlands neighborhood. Having just enjoyed a perfectly brewed latté and a blue cheese hamburger, I am now surfing the net for free on my laptop.

Java House, Sarit Center

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Jacaranda trees, cool breezes, a downtown that feels something like San Francisco (for lack of a better reference point). Seventeen hours on a rickety train, terminating in a landscape that looks something like the high desert between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, or the llano further east. Except that there are giraffes running off the train tracks here, ostriches prancing wild, and bizarre birds alighting and something hairy and baboonish lumbering through the bush.

I must be in Nairobi. It seems like life has been drawing me here for awhile. Continue reading

Music break: “ninafeel so nice”

I’ve been wanting to do some more substantial blogging, but busy and the internet connection is not as fast as it should be (ironically, in these net-boosting times, which I have helped contribute to: East Africa gets connected to fiber optics).

So, while you’re patiently waiting for me to say something of earthshaking importance, a little treat. Sauti Sol is from Kenya. Here’s their multilingual hit track, “Lazizi,” which sings about a date of coffee drinking and gazing into each other’s eyes. Notwithstanding that Kenya apparently drinks only 2 percent of the coffee it produces, partly because of some archaic colonial-era laws (hat tip to @coldtusker on Twitter for alerting me to that piece), I am digging this song. Especially the Luhya part (go figure), which is the second verse. Feeling good about going to Kenya soon. Enjoy.

PS, did you catch that Sheng in the title? I’m not speaking Swahili yet, but love that inventiveness.

Hat tip, LL.