If you are visiting Nairobi for the first time you will be so happy thinking that you are on another planet, but wait until you move around the streets. You will be surprised by the number of people you will encounter in the busy city. It is always noisy, dusty and overcrowded, but not all the people you come across are genuine; there are many who are in the city to make a living either by stealing, conning, robbing or begging.
After a successful expose of the rich Kenyan beggar, I went straight to town where begging is the order of the day. I made several stopovers whenever I saw a beggar, but not all were willing to talk. Luckily though, I came across a group of women and children (approximately 7 years and below) seated in one of the many lanes leading into the backstreets, busy asking for money from passersby. Kids were the ones who were doing most of the begging as their mothers sat and kept a close eye on them in case city council askaris appeared or something happened to their children; they would be ready to take action.
The children looked healthy and they were smartly dressed in heavy clothes to protect them from the harsh weather conditions, leaving me wondering if they were really poor.
“Aunty, nipatie mbao”, one of the little girls who seemed sharper than her counterparts told me. I quickly removed a 20 shillings coin and gave her. My presumed generosity saw the group of more than 6 kids come towards me, each asking for the same amount of money. Thank God I was well prepared, I dished out several coins and gave each and every one of them something. As if on cue, all the mothers started calling for them to give them the money to keep safe so that they could carry on with begging. “Wangechiiii, leta hiyo pesa haraka kabla upoteze!” I heard one of the mothers shout. I smiled deep in my heart because I knew my mission was now about to start.