Last updated on May 15th, 2017 at 09:33 pm
2010 (MMX) was the year that marked the beginning of a journey that we fortunate that you joined us on. We started off as Moran in The City, a mixed platter, doodle-like blog hosted on blogger.
“Moran” as we felt like 21st century warriors amidst all the “African Rising” narrative. Obama had already been president.South Africa was preparing to host the FIFA World Cup. Africa had given the world Mobile Money! Surely, it was Ke`nako and we weren’t to be left behind.
“City” because we faced a new wilderness in the form of a rapidly growing concrete jungle that threatened to swallow us. Globalization was at our door knocking. It hadn’t come alone having brought along its cousin: information overload as both Wikileaks and Facebook exploded.
We knew we had to cut through the noise and be as crisp as possible without losing the bigger picture. We needed a manual to hack the 21st century.
Moreover, we felt pressed by the 21st Century that was now picking pace—-little did we know that such exponential pace were the first signs of the 4th industrial revolution—- But we chose to speak rather than cower in silence. We knew there was a tale to be told and
Maybe it had something to do with Kenya’s economy growing at 8.4%. In the last quarter of 2010, Nairobi reported a 12+ % GDP growth! Can you believe that? In testament to this, Nairobi’s skyline was changing fast.
Upper Hill was leading the way and it wasn’t too dreamy to picture the next Burj Khalifa in Nairobi. At the time, Nairobi’s tallest building 163M high,UAP/Old Mutual towers, was still in the proposal phase.
The fun part was that I came to learn of such proposed developments thanks to an online forum of cityscape enthusiasts that I stumbled upon online (today I can’t find the website for all I have). Thanks to this online community, I spent many evenings in 2010 walking in the the then hybrid neighborhood of Nairobi’s Upper Hill.
The walking sure did my health a lot of good. What was marvelous about all this was the fact that I had found communion with strangers online. This was something in an age when My Space was still The social media site.
Man! We could do with more of this 21st century life. What was better though were the unusual sights of a high rise skyscraper rising next to a family home.
Upper Hill’s roads remained narrow and winding meant to serve households but patronized with tippers and cement trucks. It wasn’t exactly chaotic given the disturbance to a sleepy neighborhood. It was more of a willing transformation as one by one the old British style homes gave way to skyscrappers.
The unbalanced nature of it all gave one that tingly “go- getter ” feeling.
I tell you nothing beat the feeling of walking by one evening to find the foundation of a building that the guys over the skyscrapper forum had been talking about being excavated.
This addictive feeling had something to do with the power that comes with knowledge. That insatiable drive that comes with knowing. The confidence and clarity It is this feeling that we tried to capture in our early attempts through Moran In The City at delivering a crisp analysis of 21st century entertainment, science and lifestyle.
We desired (still do) that our readers get to ‘live in the 21st century‘ rather than miss out on what promises to be humanities most prosperous period ever.
As with any worthy undertaking in life, a sound track is needed to power the main characters on. In this regard, 2010 didn’t disappoint. The music was Bruno Mars “Just the way you are”good; Jay Z and Alicia Keys “Empire State Of Mind” good; Owl City “Fire flies” good….In 2010, even hip hop music was positive.For Kenyan music, this must have been Juliani’s breakthrough year.
It appeared like as humanity closed the first decade of the 21st century, in the manner of Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist : In 2010, the universe conspired to be something great.
I had just finished my undergraduate degree and the world was an oyster. But it hadn’t been easy. The last year of my studies were the toughest. I had to struggle not to drop out in a tried-to-be-like-Steve-Jobs-but-failed style. Nonetheless straight after, broke and fueled by nothing but optimism and ambition, I took a sabbatical to do nothing but take in 21st century Nairobi’s culture.
My peers were queuing up looking for jobs. There I was in my bedsitter in Nairobi’s Umoja’s estate some 21 days to my next rent. My possessions? My PC and a plan………..
In 2009, Kenya had been connected to fiber optic internet. Here is what the then President Mwai Kibaki had to say:
“With the launch of this project Kenya is now equipped with one of the most advanced and cost effective, nation-building tools,” said Kibaki, adding it would allow east Africans to be “fully digital citizens of the 21st century”
Oh boy! And didn’t we take on the 21st century with gusto! We were young and we knew our way around the internet enough to pay for the needs of a mid twenties young lad in Nairobi.
You see, some of my close friends had dropped out of college to run mini BPO’s in their bedrooms. At the back end of 2009, I had practiced my writing doing some freelance work working for them. In 2010, I too was a boss!
It was fun while it lasted. It sure felt like being 21 all over again.
But the story within refused to die —As you will come to see, so many times after, this dream has faced the same fate—
What kept it alive?
Some feelings stick with us for life once experienced. Like the feeling of the open road ahead on a Sunday afternoon.
Or brush in hand, standing over a blank canvas mounted on a stand over looking a generous window in April.
Or with stale coffee for company, the blinking of the word typing cursor on your computer screen at 1.30 am in the morning.