Nairobi’s middle classes is in trouble. ‘Winter’ has arrived, and the yammering classes are walking about with chattering teeth and layer upon layer of second-hand clothes. This cold is not for the African!
Some are looking to pair up with potential spouses, to brave the cold together. This has turned Nairobi into a spouse marketplace very similar to a car market. But people need to make the right choices, so listen up.
As with a car market, Nairobi’s spouse market has several classes of the potential spouse. At the very top are the brand new, showroom cars.
These are unused, straight from the manufacturer. They correspond to those nice girls and boys who go through teenage and university untouched, and show up on the spouse market as a bit naïve, but superb quality and reliability.
These are total spouse material. But remember, when you buy a brand-new car, the salesman will tell you that you should drive at no faster than 50kph for the first two weeks or so.
You want to ease the new car into usage. Similarly, the untouched girls and boys fresh out of university, brand new, should be handled with care. Hakuna haraka!
A rung below these are the demonstrator models. Before you buy a brand-new car from a showroom, you want to know how the car feels, how it drives, the comfort, even the smell.
The car shop will usually give you what’s called a demonstrator vehicle – these are cars that started out as brand new cars in the showroom, but spent the first few months of their lives being test-driven by potential customers.
Those customers rarely buy them: they test the demonstrator and, if they like the car and its feel, they buy a brand-new car of the same make and model.
After the demonstrator has done a couple hundred miles, it’s sold at a substantially reduced price compared to the same model when brand new.
In the spouse market, these are the formerly good boys and girls who’ve been out of university a little too long, and have started on the Nairobi club scene.
Their mileage is not too bad, but someone else has been there and done that. They’re not bad spouse material, just remember they’ve already been broken in.
Below the demonstrators is the second-hand car market. This is massive, bewildering, and full of cons. Most cars in this market have been used heavily for a few years, some have been used and abused, some are third-or fourth- or more-hand, many have had accidents and the dents are clearly visible, papered over with a little panel-beating here, a little paint there.
These correspond to the plethora of single girls and boys who’ve been on the dating scene for too long, some have a baby or two, others are just trouble waiting to happen.
One needs to select with care here, no wants to be stuck with a wheezing old jalopy just so the neighbours say you have a car!
The odd gem might be found in the second-hand car market, but a used car is a used car – you’ll always discover niggles the salesman didn’t mention, some parts will be wearing out from heavy use. Just like a spouse with pre-marital mileage, you get what you get in this market, so select with care!