Growing Old in a New City: Time, the Post-Colony and Making Nairobi Home

Colloquium | October 4 | 3:30-5 p.m. | 575 McCone Hall

 Bettina Ng'weno, University of California, Davis

 Department of Geography

Once imagined as a colonial city with restricted access to Africans and now planned as a “world class African metropolis,” the rapidly changing city of Nairobi has rarely been thought of as home. Nevertheless, the dreams and practices in old neighborhoods produced urban imaginaries and transformed the city. As yet another new Nairobi is taking shape, this article tries to understand what long-term residents imagined their city to be and how that relates to current changes. How does aging with the city change the understanding of the city and urban life? What does it mean to grow old in such a rapidly changing city? What conflicts of urban imaginaries and life manifest between the dreams and aspiration of planners, their implementation and ideas of home? This article looks at Nairobi from the point of view of long-term residents to analyze the temporal understandings of the city that is thought of as new and is constantly being rebuilt.