Nairobi is a wonderful city to visit. But just like any other place you have never been to before, it is important to know a few things about the place before you finally make your trip. This is how you will blend in with the locals, avoid insulting their culture and also stay away from having an unnecessary run-in with the authority. Generally, Kenyans are very warm people and they will be glad to have you in their country. As you plan for online passport renewal and head over to this great East African city, here are some of the interesting things you should know, but which no one will tell you about-:

Traffic lights are just a suggestions

The Nairobi traffic can be very notorious and you may think that the traffic lights are in place to help control the flow of both cars and people. However, in Nairobi, they are nothing but just a suggestion. Nobody follows them and so don’t be surprised if you see people jump right to cross the road when the lights are red. In most cases, a traffic police officers will man the crucial crossing and the traffic lights will be basically useless.

You will be arrested when you cross the streets while on the phone

In Nairobi, you must never cross the streets while talking on the phone. This is a criminal offense and you can easily be arrested by plainclothes county government police. If you have to cross the road and you are on the phone, either end the call then cross or cross then proceed with the call. Kenyan jails are the last place you want to spend even a second of your life, so don’t get arrested because you were talking on the phone while crossing the road.

Not every Kenyan runs

Kenya is known in the world stage of athletics. They shutter records left, right and center as if winning races is their divine birthright. However, not every Kenyan is a runner. As a matter of fact, a very small population from a very specific region within the Great Rift Valley are known to excel in the races. So when you get into the country, don’t engage everyone you meet on matters athletics thinking they are also pro runners.

Don’t bother about the time

If you are from Europe or America, this may seem rude, but when you are in Kenya, just drop your strict time consciousness, unless you are in the city for some serious business with equally time conscious people. But if you are on a casual visit, you will have to wait for people to show up. Don’t even think about arriving at events earlier. It is fine if you arrive half an hour late because that is actually when you will find that they are starting.

Don’t ask people about the tribe

The tribe is a sensitive and very emotive issue in Kenya. Rather than it being a unifying factor, Kenyans are greatly divided along their tribal lines, and as a foreigner, simply avoid asking people about their tribes or trying to impute that one tribe is superior to another. Though it may not be offensive, it is something you don’t want to ask where there are large gatherings.

No one says “Jambo”

Jambo is a marketing mantra perfected outside the country, but no Kenyan ever uses it, even in greetings, unless they are talking to whites who have been made to believe that it is a form of greeting in the country. Yes, it is a greeting, but only it is one Kenyans don’t use. So don’t get surprised if someone looks at you confused when you say, “Jambo” to them. If you want to say safe, learn a few Swahili phrases, or stick to the normal English Greetings.

All Kenyans are not Masaai

Again, the Masaai community has featured prominently in marketing Kenya’s tourism abroad. It a community with a deep heritage and culture and they have been a great source of attraction to millions of people around the globe. However, not every Kenyan belong to the Masaai community. So don’t be surprised if you don’t find everyone dressed in the characteristic tunics of the Masaai, with clubs and knives and the black sandals.

Kenya is the capital of Mobile Money Banking

Kenya was the first country in the world to implement a mobile money banking system, where people could send money to their contacts via mobile phones and without going through banks or credit cards. It is a very convenient and safe way to transact since you don’t have to carry along large amounts of cash. Simply deposit the money with an agent and you can access it at any time via another agent or pay for things directly without withdrawing it. This is one thing Kenyans are very proud of and you should give it a try when you visit Nairobi.

Not everything is negotiable

It is a common thing for local merchants to overcharge tourists, and tourists know this fact and will always negotiate. However, it is not everything you will always negotiate about. This is especially true when you are thinking about buying hand crafteditems from the Masaai markets. Some of those items are truly expensive and some of the vendors may not take it politely that you want to get them at the least prices. They may get offended in the process and this may ruin the experience for both of you. Therefore, know how far you can go with the negotiation the read the merchant to ensure that your pressing isn’t offending them.

Security checks are everywhere


Due to recent incidents of terrorist attacks around the city, security is a bit tight and there are lots of checks. Whether you are getting into the mall, bank, shopping center, and sometimes public transport, you will in most cases be subjected to security checks. You are not a suspect. They just want everyone to be safe so don’t feel offended or engage the guards in unnecessary arguments. After all, Nairobi is not the free world where you can do as you wish. Just obey and cooperate.