24 November 2012

Kenya: The Nairobi Debut for Formula One Motor Race

This weekend is an exciting one in the world of motor racing as the last race of Formula 1 will be run in Brazil. Formula 1 is a series of races run in 20 cities around the world.

Unlike the Safari Rally, the cars do not race over thousands of kilometres in the open countryside with a driver and navigator.

Instead, the race is conducted over a specially designed race track where a driver goes round the track a certain number of times.

What has this got to do with life in Nairobi? A lot. The cities that host Formula 1 are the most advanced as building the race tracks costs a huge amount of money.

Kenya is currently on its march to being a middle income economy with a project dubbed Vision 2030 leading us there. For us to say that we have finally arrived there, we have to imagine that we can host a Formula 1 race.

The decision to host the race will not only be due to the economic benefits but also the prestige this would bring to the country.

We have drivers that can win the race on home soil. If you don't think this is possible, then you just need to see the bunch of Subaru drivers racing down the new Thika Highway that are making matatu drivers look cool.

And the matatu drivers have to be considered for the job too, so clearly, we have the talent. Drivers who have previously been penalised for speeding and overlapping will be sought and recruited for Kenya's own Formula 1 team.

After recruiting the team, the next thing will be the construction of the race track, which will be given a large fancy name with an unpronounceable acronym.

It will be dubbed the Kenya Formula One Race Track Project (KEFORTRAP) and commissioned by the President. He has been on a commissioning spree so it shouldn't be too much of a problem getting his support.

The design of the track is a very important part of the experience and this will be both world class and uniquely Kenyan. It will for instance include an 'uneven grass section' that will be created by allowing cows to graze.

There shall also be a 'zebra crossing' section where the cars shall be required to drive faster, just as it happens locally, where drivers speed whenever someone tries to use the alleged safe zone.

Finally, there shall be a section with traffic lights and traffic cops directing the drivers on how to proceed and occasionally asking them to stop so that they can 'inspect' it.

Off the track, there will be uniquely indigenous features that would make the racers from around the world feel at home.

The pit stop, where the race crews do the changes for the vehicles, will have the usual facilities and some extra ones like a kibanda offering M-Pesa, photocopy and battery charging services.

The crew will initially ignore the services until they discover how vital they are in this town. Come race day, Nairobians will come in droves to enjoy the experience but most will spend the time at the bar section of the area and follow proceedings from their state-of-the-art smart phones.

Ladies will also be spotted at the event with those long sun dresses and sunglasses covering half their faces. When they are not photographing themselves and posting their photos on their social media accounts, they will be on the lookout for photographers from the newspapers.

The chance to be featured in the society pages of the papers cannot be discounted after all. The race will run smoothly although half way, there will be a sudden fuel shortage partly because the Energy Regulation Commission will have increased the price of fuel and retailers will also have increased theirs on the spot.

The race will end with the waving of a Maasai shuka as the winner if feted with the finest music. Beautiful belles and pot-bellied officials of the motorsports fraternity will grace the event. These officials will of course be looking for a moment of glory so they can show important they are.

City Space Club, Moi Avenue

Some imaginative person in Nairobi must have recently decided that red is not the only colour of love, blood and world famous football teams.

It is now a colour of choice when setting up a pub or lounge in Nairobi. A perfect example is the City Space Club in Nairobi's Moi Avenue that I visited Friday evening.

Outside the building hosting it are signs announcing the different theme nights on offer. There is an elevator to the club which is in the first floor which allows wheelchair-bound individuals to enjoy its charms.

At the entrance, I was frisked by a friendly security officer who had a metal detector and on getting in, I was assaulted by the shock of red.

Bright red seats were prominent features in the place and I walked across the club to its main counter as I marvelled at the redness.

At the counter there was a friendly barman who supplied me with my usual poison, a cold Tusker that was selling at Sh200.

At this point it became evident to me that bars have decided that drinking in Downtown Nairobi comes with a tax for God knows what. Too pricey.

City Space Club has several little sections where you can have your share of the oomph of the Nairobi night scene. There was even a section that allowed you look out onto Moi Avenue with its primate energy, that is uniquely Nairobian.

The red colour again was dominant on the seats that looked very comfortable. The crowd was a mix of people from age 20 to 40.

After having my fill, I went to the washrooms which were quite clean which is the least one can expect from a pub where one is forced to buy a drinks at such steep prices in town.

This pub has one thing going for it; clearly marked fire exits. I followed one of the green signs and found that it led to a restaurant called Highland Cafe and I wouldn't be very surprised to find out that both venues have similar ownership.

A quick recap of the venue;


Central location, decent but not-so-creative decor, great service, clean washrooms and clearly marked emergency exits.



My verdict

It is a good place to have a quick beer in the evening as one waits for the roads to clear.

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