Sad story behind the demise of entertainment joints in Nairobi

The now closed Simmers Bar and Restaurant on Kenyatta avenue.

By Jackson Kairu

Nairobi’s struggling entertainment industry has been hit hard by the emergence of the Covid -19 pandemic, bars, hotels and restaurants have been the biggest casualty.

Investigations by The Weekly Vision established that what we are currently witnessing is a sorry state of affairs of the once big crowd pullers now reduced to empty shells. At centre stage are newer more inviting and “comfortable” modern outlets, also struggling to attract clients. 

The same fate struck the once-popular “kuku kienyeji” famous Beer Pot on Mfangano Street. It was frequented mostly by Luhya revellers renowned for their love for well-done chicken. It is now no more reduced to selling tea and mandazi

Revellers in Nairobi, famous for trying out newer joints have been switching joints now and again, forcing old guards unable to compete to close shop. A survey conducted recently found that the once-popular Embassy Bar opposite Gill house on Tom Mboya Street has long since closed down, it is has become a shopping mall. 

The Embassy bar was open 24/7 in the 1970s to 1990s, and just like Princess and Mercury was the preferred “watering hole” for Kenya’s post-independence political elite who included the then treasury bureaucrat Barack Obama Senior, dad to ex USA president Barack Obama and retired president Mwai Kibaki.

The same fate struck the once-popular “kuku kienyeji” famous Beer Pot on Mfangano Street. It was frequented mostly by Luhya revellers renowned for their love for well-done chicken. It is now no more reduced to selling tea and mandazi.

A further spot check established a grim picture of steady decline for all traditional entertainment facilities. Gone are the days of “hot dates” points by revellers at popular movie joints famous in the 1980s and 1990s. The Kenya Cinema a popular “date” meeting point is no more.

Thanks to smartphones, videos and tablets, the cinema hall is now a restaurant. Nairobi cinema is a church and exhibition shopping mall. The 20th century Fox movie is now a 4 class ultra-modern restaurant selling Somali food and delicacies.  Live music especially played by Congolese Rhumba musicians have not been spared either. Indeed veteran music promoter and Citizen radio anchor Fred Obachi Machoka laments at the sharp decline blaming, smartphones, the Internet, Yu Tube and Video shooting.

Not even sparing world-famous disco chains Florida “Mad House”, Florida 2000 once the pride of Madison square gardens in the USA and replicated around world capitals like Nairobi. The entertainment business in Nairobi is a disaster.

Entertainment industry watchers argue that even if Pop Mega Star Michael Jackson were to resurrect today he would play to an empty audience. Before he died in 2010 from drug complications, Jackson was rated the world’s best entertainer who ever lived. He sold a record 60 million albums with his Thriller album. His performances around the world drew huge crowds that turned any politician green with envy. The future remains bleak as Covid-19 continues its uninterrupted March. 

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