MAN IN THE HOOD: I have finally made it! I moved from a ‘ploti’ to an apartment

Wednesday April 10 2019

I have noticed that apartments have guards who behave like secret service agents. Every visitor gets probed like a terrorism suspect and asked a million questions before being let in. ILLUSTRATION | IGAH


I have a testimony. Bwana asifiwe. Asifiwe tena. Asifiwe tena na tena! (Praise God. Praise Him again. Praise Him again and again!) Okay, now I am being too much, but that is what my aunt usually says in church before she makes a testimony. She never misses a testimony. And she always makes sure the entire congregation repeats ‘Bwana asifiwe’ after her about 20 times before she starts telling people how her cow that has just given birth is producing 3 litres of milk a day. (Yes, those are her types of testimonies).

She’s always like “Huko nyuma siwasikii jameni! Pigeni nduru! Semeni Bwana asifiwe! (I can't here those at the back. Make some noise. Say Praise God.)” Then some guy who was probably dozing off is forced to cut short his holy slumber and repeat ‘Bwana asifiwe’ after Aunty Agnes.

She’s the best aunt ever. I love her more than I love … wait for it … take a guess … you have probably figured it out now … chicken. You knew I was going to say chicken, right?


Anyway, my testimony is that I finally moved into a better house. It’s still in the same hood but it’s a beautiful and spacious apartment. Despite the tough times I have been through lately, the good Lord has sprinkled some blessings my way and enabled me to move to a better house. Thanks a lot to my pal Gidi for telling me about this hidden gem.

It’s not an expensive place. It’s actually quite affordable, considering how nice it looks. I bet the landlord doesn’t love money that much. He must have listened to Nyashinski in the song “Finyo” where he sang “If your God is money then you are poor to me.”  


I moved due to a variety of reasons. First, I’d like to effortlessly accommodate visitors who want to spend the night, or a few days, without feeling that they are encroaching on my space. This will also enable me to work well.

I also don’t want to keep discouraging potential future wives. I have a feeling that a while back some of them used to show up and they couldn’t help but think “Sasa hapa tutaishi aje? Nyumba ndogo kama lodging hata haina space. (Now how will we live here? The house is so small.)”

I am an apartment guy now and I can’t keep calm. I’ve made it! Have I? I think I have! What describes success better than moving from a ploti to an apartment?

Right now a movie should even be made about me. They should call it “The Man Who Moved Into An Apartment.’’ Simple! That’s an Oscar winner right there. Idris Elba should play me. Haters will say there is a Grand Canyon gap in looks between him and I, but that’s just them. This Luhya boy right here is handsome and he knows it, even if he is the only one that thinks so.

Dear Hollywood executives at Universal Pictures, Paramount Studios, Warner Bros and Netflix, what do you think? Great idea, eeh?


I noticed that new enthusiastic landlords like labelling their new buildings with the word ‘apartments’ when that’s not the case. If you see a thin, dusty building called ‘Bla Bla Bla Apartments’ in Githurai or Kinoo, that’s a fraud. That’s a bloody flat. There is a huge difference between flats/plots and apartments.

I am noticing the difference myself. I am actually experiencing a huge culture shock.

The first noticeable difference between apartments and ordinary residential houses is the protocol at the gate. In a flat or ploti, each tenant normally has their own key for the gate. Sometimes the gate is never even locked, making it open season for thieves. Sometimes there is no gate at all.

If the gate is always locked and you happen to lose your key, no one opens for you when you knock because they are apparently minding their own business. Interestingly, they never mind their business when you bring a visitor of the opposite sex over. Everyone keeps peeping.

Actually, in a ploti, neighbours never mind their own business. Mama Boi at the far corner will even know how much Royco and salt you have in your house yet you rarely talk to her.

In apartments, everyone minds their own business even on those rare occasions when you’d like them to mind your business. In fact, yesterday, I brought a really good-looking female visitor and no one even stared. Normally, in plots, these are the moments you look forward to. You want everyone to see. In your head, you are saying, “Yes, keep looking at her, you people. Look at my new bae. I have taste.” But in an apartment block, you can even show up with Beyoncé and no one will give a damn.

Anyway, back to gate protocol, I have also noticed that apartments have guards who behave like secret service agents. Every visitor gets probed like a terrorism suspect and asked a million questions before being let in. The visitor also has to produce their ID, or at least write their name down. That’s as non-negotiable as a daily dose of bread for a high schooler.

Sometimes when you have a visitor, one of the guards calls you on phone to seek your approval before permitting entry. This kind of treatment makes you feel like a high ranking official.

I am surprised that the watchmen at my new apartment block haven’t even asked for ‘soda’. They must be getting paid well. Musyoka, our ploti watchman used to ask for soda, tea and every other beverage that exists on planet earth.


Another noticeable difference is how ‘shiny’ the children are. In apartments, children always look like they have just eaten Weetabix, rolls of fried sausage and margarine. Yes, children in apartments call it margarine, not Blue Bland. Like “Mummy, could you pass me some margarine.” And the mum is like “Sure son.” When a child in a plot asks for Blue Band/margarine, the mum will fire back with “Soma ununue yako! (Study so you can buy your own!)”

Children in apartments are also dropped and picked from their academies by school buses. Some are picked and dropped by their parents. Children in plots, on the other hand, are usually picked and dropped by a nduthi rider or by a house help who always seems to be walking too fast and the poor, exhausted child can’t keep up.

I am still amazed by other things. Right now everyone has a DSTV dish outside their house except me. I have also been told that I’ll be depositing rent in a bank account yet I am just used to sending M-Pesa or giving cash.

The welcoming message when I moved in read, ‘Dear new tenant. We are glad to welcome you to our lavish apartments. In case of any emerging hiccup or burning query, get in touch with the property manager. He will be glad to offer extensive assistance. Also, don’t forget to deposit your rent in account number xxxxx in a timely and fashionable manner before the 5th of every month. Thank you and enjoy your lengthy stay.’

My goodness! So, apartments have a property manager, not a caretaker that has a crush on your girlfriend? I almost replied with “Thank you very much, can I stay here forever?” I deleted that because sending it would have been silly.

If this isn’t paradise, then tell me where is. Next Sunday, Aunty Agnes will definitely give a testimony about her nephew Philip who has moved from a ploti to an apartment.


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