Nairobi is an ugly city, if you don’t have the money to live in nice villas with lush gardens and big cars. It’s harsh. The rivers are polluted. There are few side walks and too much corruption. Everyone is on the go. It’s a hustler city.

The reason why we love Nairobi are her people. People who have the imagination and creativity to transform grimy spaces into vibrant connection points. Who are pursuing the old art of alchemy: To turn dust into gold.

Artists, since old, create a connection to the transcendental, disrupt and glue communities to transform realities. Someone once said, the reason why artists are potentially dangerous is because they have a greater vertical fluidity than other groups of communities. They dine with kings and live in poverty. They make money but hang out with the homeless/ know what it’s like to be homeless. They are courted in shiny events while injecting disruption into the comfort of complacency. They know too many things and are able to code them in ways that dodge censorship, power-wielding crooks and simple-minded consumerism. Of course, not all of them do, but this is the potential.

I love the creatives of Nairobi. Their connections form a fabric that is like a flying carpet – it can take us into the depths of humanity at the brink of the 21st century and to the heights of the different reality that is possible. They are stubborn, desperate, resilient, brilliant, hungry, fighting and loving each other in the search for more opportunities and deeper understanding of themselves and their communities. Some get lost along the way. Others don’t.

They are like a giant pile of puzzle pieces which, if put together in the right way, can revolutionise our lives and the way the rest of the world relates to East Africa.

Communications and Community Director at | | + posts

Geraldine 'Gigi' Hepp is a connector at heart, supporting professionals, organizations and communities to transform and create positive impact. She is the co-founder and creative director of E.A.S.T., the East African Soul Train.
She is also the Communications and Community Director at Amani Institute and managed the Hatchery in 2015, an innovation management program for creative sector hubs in East Africa in collaboration with Hivos.