...Nairobi does have its share of crime, and is certainly not the safest of places. My compound has electrical fencing, and my home has safe havens, motion detectors, and panic buttons.
But while petty theft, burglaries and carjacking are common, killing is not the norm. Some of my friends have been carjacked by polite and cheerful young unemployed men of reasonable education, who have been at pains to explain the dire circumstances that have forced them into such diversions.
There is another city where I was cautioned, just a year ago, to exercise extreme caution, and it was Washington DC. I was told that its crime rate was horrifying, and that I should be specially careful not to venture into certain marginal areas of the city, such as where the blacks and latinos live. In Nairobi, you will be similarly warned not to move around in Eastleigh and certain colonies in the industrial belt.
I was struck by another similarity with Nairobi - just as the US Embassy in Nairobi was the target of an Al Qaeda terrorist attack in 1998 (in which mostly Kenyan bystanders perished), the Pentagon in Washington DC was hit, on September 11, 2001, by an aircraft manned by Al Qaeda terrorists.
I made enquiries to find out if there was a travel advisory out against Washington DC, or against other cities in the United States. I was told that Washington's gates remained wide open to tourism (and other isms, like neoconservatism). Indeed, it transpired that there is no travel advisory out against any US city at all, though reliable sources such as CNN and BBC routinely report that people there live under constant threat of unexpected attack by viruses, microbes, Kalashnikovs, snipers, serial killers, shoe bombs, water supply poisoning, anthrax, truck bombs, nuclear strikes, radiation leaks, surveillance, loss of civil liberties, and so on.
The similarities between Washington and Nairobi are multiplying faster than the differences. Makes you wonder if Kenya's Department of State should start issuing travel advisories similar to this one.