Nairobi Half Life Analysis

Nairobi Half Life Analysis



Nairobi Half Life Analysis

The development of African cities was largely initiated by the Europeans during colonialism. During those days the cities such as Nairobi were restricted to Africans. Today, Nairobi is regarded as a world-class African metropolis but the city continues to represent the colonial aspects of restrictions and difficulties for immigrants. The Nairobi Half-Life is a Kenya local movie that captures and represents the primary issues and concerns of Nairobi city. The film tells the story of a young villager, Mwas, who hawks DVDs but moves to Nairobi to pursue his dream of acting in the theaters. However, upon arriving at Nairobi, life becomes tough and challenging that it took time before he realized his dream. The film shows the difficulties in the city of Nairobi such as robbery, tough working conditions and challenging livelihoods among individuals of the lowest class.

Nairobi Half Life illustrates the difference between the city of Nairobi and villages since the city offers a tough livelihood which is enjoyed by the people in the upper class. After Mwas traveled to Nairobi, he learned quickly that it is a city with more than just glamour and opportunities. On his first day, he was faced with numerous challenges including being robbed and assaulted by thugs and left stranded. He was later arrested and jailed falsely. Ng’weno (2018) illustrates that to understand urbanity across Africa it is necessary to address long-term residents and the migrants. In this case, Mwas as a migrant offers insights through his experiences to help understand the Nairobi. The experiences of Mwas show that Nairobi is a city characterized by crime and injustices.

The Nairobi Half-Life shows that the individuals who have lived in the Nairobi for a long time understand life there compared to the migrants. Mwas found life in the city to be very challenging but found a crook Oti who tries to show him how to survive in Nairobi. Unfortunately, he introduces him to the life of robbery. Oti introduced Mwas into his gang which was about grab and snatch thievery of vehicle parts. Apparently, due to lack of opportunities, this was the life some of the youth had resorted to surviving. Ng’weno (2018) argues that Africans with access to housing and permanent jobs had a different perception and interaction with the city which makes up their understanding of cityness. In this view, Oti having stayed in Nairobi for a longer period than the Mwas knew the city better and that’s why he helped him.

Nairobi Half Life demonstrates that to understand Africa’s urbanity, it is important to learn more about the migrants and the long-term residents. The people who have stayed ling in a city such as Nairobi have a different perception and understanding of the city compared to people who just move into the country. Mwas found life difficult in Nairobi because he had just moved into the city while Oti having been there for a while had improvised survival tactics. Hence, both the long-term residents and migrants offer insights into the issues and concerns in the city to enhance a better understanding.


Ng’weno, B. (2018). Growing old in a new city: Time, the post-colony and making Nairobi home. City, 22(1), 26-42.

Gitonga D. (2012). Nairobi Half Life. Sarika Hemi Lakhani.