Opinion: We all need alternative lives out of the city

Opinion: We all need alternative lives out of the city
  • PublishedFebruary 20, 2021

For the first time in our lives, we are seeing men and women retiring and electing to live in the city instead of the village.

In the days gone, when people reached retirement age, they retired to the village to go breath clean air, eat organic food, and play with grandchildren. But city life can be addictive and people have gradually lost interest in rural life, which should not be the case.

Lately, I am not a big fan of city life and my desire is to establish myself a home far from any city. Why? Because cities are not good for our health and souls.

We live in tiny houses and most of us have no outdoors with trees to enjoy some clean air. We eat bad food and breath polluted air. The traffic jams drive us nuts every day and if you use public transport, it is a crazy life. You have to leave home early and get home late. No time for children. No time to unwind. No time to be with yourself, for self-introspection. Or even to be in a mood for love making.

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But the worst thing about cities are the people. Everyone is angry. It is not possible to relax when bills are harassing you, people are dishonest or transactional, and merely surviving. Cities damage people in so many ways, it is not possible to have functional relationships with your relatives, friends, and even your neighbour. Being woken up at 4:30am to move your car from the parking lot to allow someone who parked deep inside knowing very well they will leave early can ruin your day.

You would think with all this madness people will invest in good houses and compounds in the village so as to take regular breaks from the madness.


Kenya is a relatively small country and most of us can afford a regular trip to the countryside. Such trips should encompass total relaxation and submission to nature. A good compound with trees, well-kept lawn and some livestock and poultry to keep one busy.

In the city, money is the catalyst of every conversation and the reason for every angst and fear. In the village you can relax and if retired to such life, there is no threat of rent and runaway bills. The food is readily available or at least very affordable.

But most city dwellers prefer paying expensively for this in hotels and recreational resorts when it is possible to have such affordably and at virtually no cost in the village.

Another good thing with the village is that there is no rush since people are not motivated by money like in Nairobi and other cities. It is possible to visit the village shopping centre, drink tea and have a good conversation with the folk, maybe not as intellectually stimulating as in the city but who said conversations have to be intellectually stimulating?

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I also like the village because, save for a debilitating disease or some pressure about school fees, people often go about their lives unencumbered by stuff like cheap competition, the need to impress, and the crass materialism of the city.

This is not to say that life in the village is perfect and there aren’t challenges. Far from it. There is a high dependence ratio in the village, the worse, if you come from the city, since everyone thinks everyone in Nairobi and other big cities has money. But it gives us an opportunity to help others and the help does not have to be necessarily financial. Sometimes all people need is a little push, a little motivation and just leading life by a good example.

Cities, for all their misgivings, do afford us decent exposure that we can use to help the villagers. We can transfer the knowledge and the different ingenious ways we use to survive in the cities to the rural folk, who may want to try life in the city.

Our health is dependent on many factors, and the environment is key. Whereas we can’t settle in the village for good, it doesn’t hurt to have a haven, where we routinely – monthly, or once every two months – escape to relax and connect with our kin. We should not visit the village only for funerals.

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