Nairobi started as a colonial train depot settled by the British during the construction of the Kenya Uganda Railway line also known as the lunatic express. Throughout the years Kenya’s capital city has shifted from a colonial outpost to one of the most thriving administrative centres in Africa. The financial and governance aspects of Nairobi aside, it is also a centre for history, arts, music culture and education.
In Kanairo sounds and tales of the city, we explore different stories and aspects of this urban environment through a four-part series. So grab your pop-corns, get your drink, sit and check out our deep dive into Kanairo.
Welcome to the world of Matwanas, a culture of its own where the streets meet design, clubbing
and essential travel collide and road etiquette counts for sh*t. It is characterized by blaring music, hypnotizing lights in between darkness, aggressive touts, wicked graffiti from creative
gods like Rajahkzmoecustomz, Mwasgraffixx, Martin Ojiambo and Moha Grafix.
In Ronga, the coolest matatus are referred to as ‘ýa wire’ of the cable. No, they’re not like cable
cars that creep along powered by electricity, these matatus are the electricity. Zooming from Rongai on the outskirts of the city to Nairobi where they defy road rules to dodge the gridlock that plagues Kenya’s capital. They charge higher fares, of course, for allowing you the privilege of actually getting to work on time. Board one with your inhaler handy and avoid them if you have a pacemaker because your heart will pump and you will gasp multiple times as you hold on to your seat.
Pin Popping Paps caught up with Brian ‘Graffo’ Wanyama, who has dedicated his life to Matwana Culture. So much so that he’s started an organisation that documents this counter-culture that was featured on CNN.
Mahindi Choma (roast maize) costs like KSh 30 for a cob but the vendor will likely go down to 20 shillings if you tell him “Mwezi Iko Kwa Kona Mbaya” It’s Mid Month. That’s when your next pay cheque is two weeks away and you used up your spending money on expensive “Ya Wire” matatus and you’ve been throwing rounds of tusker baridi and nyama choma for your friends after work. Before you get there though there’s a Kenyan delicacy that is delectable, perfect and difficult to describe. Mutura blood sausage, intestines stuffed with tripe with a little bit of blood for taste. Some people say that the salt comes from the cook’s sweat as he grills the intestines but that’s an urban myth, that earthy salty taste is from the blood added to stuffing (we think). Pin Poppin Paps jumped at the chance to interview Amoh from the Junction Family Butchery, a man deserving of a Michelin star for his work with this amazing (often misunderstood) delicacy.
Veve/Miraa Khat is a shrub that grows along the equator and is chewed for its euphoric and stimulative properties. It’s consumed all over the world but particularly in the middle East and Eastern Africa. The cultivation, sale and consumption of Veve brings in USD 400 000 a day in Kenya alone. Kuchana Veve chewing miraa is often a social activity and in Nairobi this mostly happens at a ‘Veve Base’. These are retail shops often with a small seating area for groups of clients. These spots often have negative connotations attached to them. These honestly draw from stereotypes that assume any group of young people together from a particular social class has to be a gang. Pin Popping Paps goes to his favourite veve base to meet up with his friends to chew Khat, chew the fat and discuss
sheng culture.

Veve is mostly chewed but let’s be honest for a lot of people the image of chewing Miraa is of a guy
with one bulging cheek, a little green dribble on the side of his lips and a 200ml soda bottle in his
hand shouting “BUUUDAAAA!” every time one of his mates says something. It’s not the most
pleasant image.
That’s why more and more people are developing new ways to consume it. One scientist in Australia
even tried to extract the active ingredients and turn them into a snortable powder….That’s what he’s
using his chemistry degree for, imagine.
Ghat Juice’s founder, Hiram, isn’t going to such extremes. His company is one of the few that are
liquefying miraa and turning it into a drink. They go one step further and add herbal extracts to their
product. Curious about hibiscus and lemon-infused miraa juice, our film crew visited their farm in
banana to find out more about what they Ghat in store for their consumers. (They use that pun a lot
we’re just staying true to their brand image)

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